Posts from the ‘Environment’ Category

5.9 Earthquake shakes Cephalonia



A 5.9 earthquake shook Cephalonia at 16.30 today, January 26 2014.

There are no reports of injuries but the earthquake was felt as far as Athens.

Cephalonia, in thesouth Ionian Sea lies in an earthquake prone area. It suffered great damages during the 1953 earthquakes that shook the island and its neighbor Zakynthos.

Environment – one of the big losers of the Greek crisis

On Saturday 12 January 2013 Syntagma Square was occupied by a different kind of protesters: villagers, ecologists, farmers came all the way from Halkidiki to demonstrate against the establishment of gold mines in their area. There were about 3000 people with imaginative pickets and slogans who remained outside the Parliament for a few hours. Previously they had visited the Canadian Embassy who, they claim, is actively promoting the enterprise because of Canadian interests.

Manolis Glezos, always present, walked for the environment

Manolis Glezos, always present, walked for the environment

"Our silence is gold for them.

“Our silence is gold for them.

The Athenian rally was the climax of a year of struggles between Hellas Gold  a company 95 percent of which is owned by Canadian mining company Eldorado Gold Inc. and the remaining 5 percent by Greek construction company Aktor and local committees opposed to the project. More information on one of the blogs created by the local residents:

SYRIZA MPs have submitted a question in Parliament stating that the Company is not following environmental directives which state that mining and building activities cannot be carried out in areas neighbouring with NATURA 2000 protected zones, stressing that while the police are very active when faced with angry citizens they are very slow in checking the Company’s illegal activities.

What prompt me to classify the environment as the “great victim of the crisis” is the continuous efforts to “sell” all open spaces around Athens, starting with the Ellinikon area, the area that was previously occupied by the Athens Airport.  All the ecological studies that are required or should be required for interventions of that magnitude are conveniently overlooked using crisis as an alibi.

It is obvious to everyone that the Greek government is taking the easy way out. Unfortunately the destruction of the Halkidiki forests or the building up of the Ellinikon area are actions that are not reversible. They undermine the future of the country and influence the European environment as well.

Athens main street becomes “pedestrians only” for a week

(From the newspaper NEA)

Panepistimiou street, one of the two main arteries in central Athens, will be closed to vehicles from 17 to 22 September. It will instead be taken over by pedestrians, bicycles, musicians, educational games, etc.

This project was presented by the Athens Mayor on Friday as the city’s contribution to this is done in order to participate in the European week of viable transport. Mr. George Kaminis stressed that “the modern tendency” is to give priority to bicycles, motorcycles, mass transport vehicles and last to private vehicles.

The Municipality claims that it is doing its best to promote pedestrian use of central Athens. The Athens tradesmen Association announced that their union will take advantage of the last day of the “pedestrians” week to offer free gifts and promotional special offers.

Some like it hot



To the people who like it hot Greece is the ideal place in the summer. To its residents who are not used to live in tropical climates it means that it is time to escape and take to the seas and the mountains. Ergo, we all remember the faraway village our progenitors hail from and return to it to the delight (mostly…) of grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins etc.

When you ask a Greek abroad where they come from he/she is either from Athens or from Thessaloniki. It not only makes life easier (who can pronounce Gargalianoi or Petromagoula) but it also lifts us from the category of peasants. Summer and particularly August is village time: it is the time we remember traditional fairs and foods, folk music and dancing, relations and friends from childhood or from previous holidays. Dekapentavgoustos is the climax with the celebration of Virgin Mary’s passing away: every church holds a fair (panygiri), with an open market, free food and evening entertainment. Panayia means the saint of all saints and is, after Christmas and Easter, the most celebrated religious event.

The younger generation which was brought up to despise everything connected to the past moans and groans but follows since the financial situation does not allow them to go their separate ways. This return to the roots is the only good thing to come out of the crisis and might be the answer to it. To me “back to the roots” means more solidarity, more hospitality, more sharing, better human relations. It means less consumerism and more productivity. It means appreciation of your origins and less effort to be something or someone that you are not.


In the meantime, Athens is baking and looks for ways to refresh itself and the few of its residents left behind. Open air cinemas have a field day and in neighbourhoods where there are not any the municipalities organise screenings in pedestrian areas. Coffee shops offer now a cheese pie with every coffee and if you take it with you a bottle of water is free. One of the beaches closest to Athens – that of Hellinikon – is free of charge due to the struggle of its Mayor, Kortzides, who managed to wrest it from a private enterprise. Right opposite the old airport and easy to reach by public transport the Hellinikon beach is packed every day of the week.

Syntagma Square is almost deserted allowing a gypsy imp to have a swim in the fountain.

Hot is not that bad after all.

Big fires in the Peloponese – Patra in a cloud of smoke

The fire that started early this morning near Patra seems to have got out of control. Regional and municipal authorities are cooperating with the inhabitants trying to curb the spread but the strong winds prevailing in the area do not allow their efforts to succeed.

According to a local e-zine ( the Patras Hospital is in danger of evacuation while nearby villages are already being emptied. The Achaia region is in a state of emergency.

A second fire has broken out near the village of Zevgolatio in the Corinth region.

Thank you Wangari Maathai

Wangari Maathai was beautiful and inspiring. I had the great fortune to meet her personally in Copenhagen, in 1995. The UN hosted Conference against poverty was the venue and she was one of the most inspiring speakers.

Wangari, dressed in traditional African clothes, with her colourful turban, won us over with her honest, no-nonsense speech on the needs of Africa, the troubles of Africa and her aspirations of Africa. She did not hesitate to talk about bad governance at home, criticize lovingly her compatriots and propose changes.

Wangare Maathai was a genuine activist because she had a target close to her heart and went after it with all her strength.

In these troubled days in Greece, when I hear the Prime Minister talking about patriotism I think of Wangare with more admiration: Wangari practiced patriotism, she looked after her country and her people doing simple but necessary things for their well being. I wish there were more like her, I wish I were more like her.

Theodorakis protests with music

Mikis Theodorakis, the world-famous Zorba the Greek music composer, continues to be a shiny example for the intellectuals of our country. I do not necessarily agree with all his actions and statements but when an old and sick man has the courage to speak out against the selling of state-owned land I respect him.

On Friday, September 16, Mr. Theodorakis held a concert in the old airport of Athens to promote the idea of a park. The future of this particularly precious land is questionable. While the citizens of the area, environmentalists and people’s movements want it to become a public park, a place of recreation, the government, in its desperate effort to find money, is looking for buyers!!

In order to understand the importance of this decision one has to keep in mind the situation of Athens, its lack of open spaces, its lack of green and how densely populated the city is.

Standing around and listening to Theodorakis emotional music we could not help but think what this sea-side park would offer to the neighbours but to Athenians in general too. The temperature was at least 5 degrees lower than our homes and reminded us of the importance of allowing this breeze to reach our monstrously planned capital.

The Polytechnic School of Athens has submitted a project to the Greek Government about how best to organize and utilise the 5000 acres of the old airport but without response till now.

“Do not weep for the Greeks, with a knife on their throat, tied up in chains they still rise and start all over again and strike at the enemy with a trident made of sun” – this was the song chosen by Mikis to finish the concert. I changed the word “Greeks” with the expression “working people” and was in perfect agreement.