VISA is the MasterCard of Friendship
VISA is the MasterCard of Friendship
Minister Avromopoulos, Greek Minister of Tourism, should check the latest balance of his VISA accounts. No, we are not referring to the Minister’s personal finances. We are, regrettably, referring to a Greek government diplomatic office in Izmir, Turkey, that may be creating a serious deficit rather than a credit to the Minister’s efforts in increasing Greek tourism.
An emergency winter cabinet meeting in Athens under the auspices of Prime Minister Karamanlis resulted in an acknowledgement of a very serious government concern and proposals to solve the problem. The problem is reported to be a 20% cumulative decrease in Greek tourism during the immediately preceding four year period which included the year in which Athens hosted the International Olympics. Proposals designed to solve the problem included the commencement of Greek tourism advertising earlier than usual and the distribution of communiqués to all Municipalities to concentrate greater efforts on tourism within their regional areas so that coordinated tourism efforts are made from the national level down through to the local levels.
The Tilos Park Office immediately responded to this alert. One of its ideas was to search for EU programs that might assist Tilos in adding to its pre-existing tourism markets. Through the efforts of the Tilos Park Office, the City of Armutalan, Turkey, with its natural beauty, National Forest, developed tourism industry and close proximity to Tilos, graciously agreed to explore the feasibility of joint cooperation in culture, tourism and employment for the region by inviting a Tilos delegation at the expense of Armutalan to discuss the subject. The Turkish government at the request of the Mayor of Armutalan promptly waived the visa fee for one hundred members of the visiting Greek party to Turkey.
The results of this May 6-8 Greek visit to Armutalan, which have been reported in this Newsletter, included a reciprocal invitation by the Tilos Municipality to a working delegation from Armutalan as well as Turkish citizens to visit Tilos in June.
The Office of the Greek Consul General in Izmir failed, refused or neglected to acknowledge or respond to the official written request of Mayor Aliferis of Tilos to waive the visa fee for these invited visitors. As a result, all of the Turkish visitors had to pay for a three day visa through the time-consuming and expensive process of mailing passports and paying fees that the Turkish government did not require their Greek counterparts to pay in May.
At the June Turkish-Greek conference on Tilos, the Tilos and Armutalan working committees mutually agreed upon the necessity of future meetings, many of which would be held in Rhodes during the year because it is a half-way point between the two municipalities. As a result, the Tilos Mayor sent a second official request to the Greek Consul General in Izmir specifically requesting a one year visa for multiple visits at no charge for the working committee of Armutalan.
Again, the Greek Consul General in Izmir failed, refused or neglected to acknowledge or respond to the second official written request of the Tilos Municipality to reciprocate what Turkey had already generously given in May.
At the third Greek-Turkish meeting on July 13th in Rhodes in which the Tilos and Armutalan working committees exchanged ideas to expand tourism, culture and employment, the Mayor of Armutalan expressed his sincere and understandable disappointment that each member of the Turkish working delegation, including a Turkish news correspondent who participated in the entire meeting, was required to pay 98 euros per person for a three month, multiple visit visa (except the Armutalan Mayor who received a one year visa). This represents the payment of almost one thousand euros by the Turkish working party just to attend a one day meeting in Rhodes with an unknown number of future meetings for the remainder of this summer. This is the second trip to Greece for the Turkish and the second time that they have had to obtain visas with a substantial fee.
A Need to Account for Accounts for which One May or May Not Be Able to Account
The most disturbing problem concerns the subject of an official letter from the Mayor of Armutalan to the Mayor of Tilos in which each Turkish passport received a stamped visa in July with the receipt showing that only 66,5 euros had been paid by each person even though each member of the Turkish delegation converted for us the amount of Turkish lira paid by each, representing approximately 98 euros. The amount paid appears to be fifty percent more than the written receipt.
Can the Office of the Greek Consul General in Izmir account for this discrepancy and, if it exists, (1) can one explain why a written receipt reflects a lesser amount than the money alleged to have been paid, (2) do the repeated Greek failures to reciprocate visa fee waivers for cross-border tourism expansion committees and the alleged visa receipt discrepancies constitute an official or unofficial policy of the Hellenic Ministry of Foreign Affairs, (3) is the foregoing conduct equitably applied to all countries requiring visas for its citizens to visit Greece or is Turkey treated differently, and (4) is there a specific accounting to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for any alleged discrepancy between reported visa fees paid and alleged visa fees paid?
The Office of the Greek Consul General in Izmir declined to accept the Tilos Municipality invitation to attend any part of the June Turkish-Greek visit to Tilos with cultural events and a working conference that Nilufer Feyizoglu, the Turkish Consul General of Rhodes, assisted in coordinating and participated in fully. There is a time honored expression that states: “In order to have a friend, you have to be a friend.”
Minister Avromopoulos may be well advised to look through his visa accounts that could be at risk of destroying his efforts to strengthen Greek tourism.
An Open Letter to Tilos Park Opponents and Those Who Will Not Listen to Them
An Open Letter to Tilos Park Opponents and Those Who Will Not Listen to Them
Epops: “An open mind is a weapon in itself.”
Koryphaios: “You may be right. At least it can do no harm to hear what they have to say. It may be we shall take some profit even from what we hate.”
Taken from the section entitled Parados of the play: The Birds Written by Aristophanes and produced in 414 B.C. An outspoken play that attacks civil neurosis in its comedy
Taken from the section entitled Parados of the play: The Birds
Written by Aristophanes and produced in 414 B.C.
An outspoken play that attacks civil neurosis in its comedy
On Friday evening, July 8, 2005, at 06:20 p.m., eight island tourists who came to Tilos to absorb some of our local culture, spend time with us, contribute to our local economy, exchange stories about our respective homelands and learn more about our island’s plans for the future from the Tilos Park Director were driven away from our Tilos Park office by a very real fear of impending violence.
These tourists, including British and Swedish guests, came to the Tilos Park Office to learn about our Life-Nature Program sponsored by the European Union and the Greek Ministry of Agriculture, our status as a Special Protection Area for the Birds, our inclusion in the Natura 2000 Network and our most precious asset: our natural heritage on Tilos which shows many different forms when people stop and take the time to look.
The tourists fled quickly when a group of sixteen extremely angry people including a member of the Tilos agricultural community, a hotel owner, a governmental representative as well as several non-resident Tilos landowners, stormed into the office screaming and yelling with gestures that reasonably frightened the Park guests. This intrusion that terminated our Park meeting continued with verbal threats of potential physical violence against those who are currently associated with the Life Nature program and those who are advancing the successful applications for programs with European Union funding to improve the quality of life on Tilos.
Although witness reports of the foregoing incident by members of the surrounding community may be useful to the authorities in the event of any future official inquiries concerning any criminal acts that may occur against the Park office, equipment or staff, it is the policy of the Tilos Park Association to talk with anyone who wishes to discuss island park plans on one condition. This condition is that non-violent conversation will be the sole and exclusive means of communication to make our island world a more peaceful place of mutual understanding through the Park’s efforts to find common goals for future joint cooperation.
This is an open letter to those in the meeting who specifically demanded that we on Tilos stop bringing in money from these EU programs for one year and stop working on programs with Turkey.
One might ask many of the people who disrupted our Park meeting and who own land, homes and successful businesses on Tilos and other cities in the world, (including businesses that enabled some of them to pay thousands of euros for air fare and holiday expenses for themselves and their families), do you even begin to understand the needs of others who are in serious need of employment here on the island and do not have the financial wealth and security that you appear to possess?
The objective of the professional programs that the European Union thankfully has established for remote and isolated European areas such as Tilos Island serves a multitude of purposes including (1) improved infrastructure necessary to support basic health and safety systems (including roads, electricity, a heliport that has already transferred our extremely sick patients to the nearest hospital in Rhodes, a water reservoir for one of the driest land areas in the country, etc.), (2) preservation of the environment, (3) the critical need for our young citizens to have the dignity of basic employment and (4) the critical need to promote peace and understanding between nations such as our collaboration with Turkey for the purpose of employment creation and cross-border cultural exchanges.
I appreciate the apologies I received from some of the Tilos landowners after a two and one half hour discussion that included an explanation of the facts about the proposed Tilos Natural Park as such facts have been documented with the Ministry of Environment in Athens. I also explained that the Ministry of Environment has confirmed with The Tilos Park Association as well as directly in meetings with members of the group opposed to the Tilos Park that there is no truth to the rumors that had been circulating about Governmental land confiscation.
To those Tilos landowners who gave no response to my two and one half hour explanation of what funding programs are currently being implemented and considered on Tilos and who persist in condemning the European Union and Tilos Park employment proposals, I ask you to do only one thing for the benefit of everyone on this island. Kindly explain the following to our youngest citizens:
1. Your personal, self-serving reasons why you want Tilos to stop for one entire year bringing in European Union funding for legitimately needed programs thereby depriving every business owner and our working population from 16 to 65 years of age on the island of the ability to make a living.
2. Specific and detailed proposals each of you has for job creation on this island. You have the right to express your opinion concerning what you are against but you then have a corresponding responsibility to tell us what you propose as a serious and feasible alternative so that we can survive.
3. The reasons you advocate and in some cases demonstrate the very acts of civil disruption (that is frightening to people such as our tourist guests) and threats of violence, both of which you routinely condemn others around the world for perpetrating against the Greeks. Threats of violence and frightening civil disruption, whether on an international, national or local level, causes pain and suffering to its victims for whom you have demonstrated a grievous lack of concern.
4. The reasons you want to destroy our prospects for participating in an EU sponsored joint Greek-Turkish employment program. You complain constantly about our joint historical wars but you seem to demand that we on Tilos should deprive ourselves of an opportunity for peace. How can you explain that conundrum to your children and still say that our tensions are the fault of others?
5. And, lastly, kindly explain the true facts of our employment programs to our youth as the truth was explained to you by the Ministry of Environment after the meeting your representatives had with them in Athens and the same facts explained to members of your group by the Tilos Park Director in October 2003 (Founders Day meeting) in Livadia; on April 12, 2004 at a four hour meeting in Eristos Beach; on January 23, 2005 at a two hour meeting in Eristos Beach; and July 8, 2005 at this two and a half hour meeting concerning exactly what actions are being proposed as well as implemented.
In the event that there are any hotel owners who currently wish to express support for the Tilos Park opposition group demands that Tilos terminate all EU funding programs for one year that include the joint ecotourism expansion plans with Turkey, please advise the appropriate agencies in the event of a desire by any such hotel owner to respectfully decline future participation in proposed joint Tilos-Armutalan tourism packages.
To the group opposed to the Tilos Park and EU programs, we look forward to receiving any written alternative employment proposals for Tilos that you may have.
Special Guests Visit Tilos!
Special Guests Visit Tilos!
An unexpected delegation of five representatives from the Melissa [translation: Honey Bee] Association in Attica, which is a philanthropic organization created for the purpose of providing scholarships for Dodacanese students, came to Tilos to learn about the development of the Tilos Natural Park and Tilos eco-tourism that is designed to support the conservation of our endangered Aegean flora and fauna. The members of this Association who live in the Athens area have familial roots and/or a sincere interest in the Dodecanese Island chain and make regular visits to the islands as part of their philanthropic and educational activities. The President, Themelina Charalampopoulou, and the four visiting members of the Melissa Association were given a guided tour of the island by an enthusiastic resident who was happy to pile his guests into a minivan and show them the natural treasures of the island. He arranged for their meeting with the Project Coordinator of the Tilos Life-Nature Program (subsidized by the European Union) at “En Plo” Café in Eristos Beach where Manolis Hadzifoudas as proprietor offered them refreshments as his guests. The delegation expressed an interest in the unique enthusiasm and initiative of local residents forming an environmental organization to help build a permanent infrastructure for the preservation of endangered resident and migratory birds as well as rare indigenous flora. At the end of their journey, the delegation waived good-bye to their driver and guide who said he hoped he would have the pleasure of seeing them again soon, but he added with a sense of urgency that he must get back to his regular day job. We hope that you, our readers, will join us on Tilos very soon to see all of these exciting developments. Maybe you might even have the same enthusiastic driver with the borrowed minivan who turned out to be Dr. Anastasios Aliferis, the Mayor of Tilos.
We Need Your Support
We Need Your Support
Please, consider becoming a Member of the Tilos Park Association. For just €30 per year, your membership will add strength to our voice in the preservation of the natural heritage of Tilos. To receive a membership application package send us an e-mail at: email@example.com