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  Nr. 142 - November 2010
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Elections 2010: Interview with Nikos Fostieris

by Massaliotis
Nikos Fostieris, Mayor of Amorgos & Mayoral Candidate - AMORGOS
Ένωση για την Πρόοδο της Αμοργού
(Union for the Progress of Amorgos)
email: amorgos@aigaio.gr

Nikos Fostieris, originally from Katapola, is standing for mayor for a third term. He studied economics at the University of Athens followed by four years at the Hellenic Naval Academy and two years in Portsmouth, England, studying telecommunications. He served as vice-admiral in the Greek navy until 1993.

Mr Fostieris, you are completing eight years at the helm of the municipal authority of Amorgos. How happy are you with the results of your work so far?
Casting a critical eye over the eight years I’ve been at the helm of the municipality I would say I am happy with the work I’ve carried out, despite problems posed by bureaucracy. This opinion is based partly on the general impression of the citizens, which is favourable, but also on a number of efficiency indicators, such as the high rate at which funds are absorbed, the computerised facilities that are at the disposal of the municipality, the fast and competent manner in which citizens’ requests are handled, the creation of a technical department, the island’s growth and other factors.

What are the guiding principles of your party?
Our main focus is the citizen. Our guiding principles are the conservation of our society’s traditions, the protection of the environment, as well as of our cultural heritage, and the implementation of sustainable development policies.

Do you believe that Amorgos is ready to rise to the challenge of the ‘Kallikratis’ reform?
As you know Amorgos remains an independent municipality, so its administrative status remains unchanged. We are fully supportive of the ‘Kallikratis’ reform, which to us means bringing services closer to the citizen, who will henceforth assume greater responsibility with regard to the island’s development. We are ready to rise to the challenge posed by ‘Kallikratis’ on the condition that the devolved powers are accompanied by the necessary funds.

If your party wins the election, how do you plan to solve the perennial issues concerning the selection of a site for a sewage treatment plant and the creation of fishing harbours and tourist marinas?
If you are referring to the biological sewage treatment plant of Aigiali, the municipal council has already decided to acquire a new piece of land that meets all the necessary criteria and the contract will soon be signed. As concerns the biological sewage plant of Arkesini, the Central Archaeological Committee has consented to the construction of a sewage plant in the selected area and the project’s file is almost complete. The sewage plant at Katapola is running smoothly. Regarding fishing harbours, studies for their construction in Katapola and Kalotaritissa (Kato Meria) are at an advanced stage. These harbours will be perfectly compatible with the environment, both in terms of size and means of construction.

How do you propose solving the staffing problems faced by the island’s medical centre?
The transformation of the multipurpose peripheral clinic in Chora to the medical centre of Amorgos and its equipping took place during our terms in office. However, the central authorities, despite persistent efforts on our part, did not provide sufficient incentives to specialist doctors for them to come to our island. Our intention is to create such incentives by building houses on land owned by the municipality where doctors and their families will be able to stay. At the same time, we will continue to urge central authorities to provide additional incentives to encourage doctors to settle on our island.

Are there or will there be any examples of sustainable development practices on Amorgos?
As I said, the protection of the environment and the implementation of sustainable development practices constitute the cornerstone of our policies. Living up to this commitment, we have introduced advanced treatment methods of sewage at the sewage plant of Katapola that allows the output to be used to water a number of plants. The sanitary waste landfill (XYTA) has been operational over the last three years, as has the recycling programme. We will soon proceed with a pilot programme for the composting of waste at home. We have restored the previously used exposed landfill (XADA) on the island and have transformed it into a small grove with endemic types of trees and bushes.
We have also encouraged organic methods of farming and husbandry and are already bearing witness to the first results of our work.

What do you believe are the reasons behind the drop in tourism over the last few years?
Tourism on our island has experienced an increase, not a drop over the last few years and  the tourist season has been extended. This is due to improved ferry connections (there are many hi-tech ferries nowadays serving Amorgos), which is the direct consequence of initiatives undertaken by our party. At the same time, we have developed alternative forms of tourism, such as ‘walking tourism’ by the marking, cleaning and re-arranging of walking trails (Amorgos trails are unique). We have promoted religious tourism by showcasing the wealth of our Orthodox heritage, placing the monastery of Chozoviotissa and its museum at the centre of our campaign. We have developed archaeological tourism by making use of the archeological collection of Amorgos and promoting the archeological sites of Minoas, Kastri and Pyrgos of Aghia Triada that this year received the Europa Nostra award. We have also encouraged activities such as scuba diving and rock climbing.

Has your party thought of additional possible ways to promote alternative tourism on the islands, as well as extend the tourist season?
Since 2003, when we started being at the service of our fellow islanders, we have been implementing a mild, sustainable development of the island which places people at its very centre. This model aims to preserve the traditional way of life and the island’s customs and traditions, as well as to highlight our cultural heritage and contribute to the protection of the environment.
We support and encourage entrepreneurial initiatives with regard to tourism and animal rearing. We promote renewable forms of energy, taking into account the carrying capacity of our island. We support organic farming and husbandry. We seek to foster a voluntary ethic and a sense of social solidarity among the island’s inhabitants. We are making use of new technologies (Internet, optical fiber network) to support entrepreneurial initiatives and improve the quality of information. By implementing new programmes we will promote life-long learning at home free of charge. By encouraging people to participate in citizens’ assemblies, implemented thanks to our efforts, we aim to see citizens play a more active role in the island’s governance. We also aim to support the elderly by improving our ‘Help at Home’ programme.
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