Yiannis Boutaris

The well-known wine producer Yiannis Boutaris, a Thessaloniki mayoral nominee and head of the Citizen’s Initiative group, appears determined to form a strong opposition. With no party support whatsoever, at least so far, he has already managed to bring together a significant number of the city’s intellectuals. He will not accept that Panayiotis Psomiadis represents the character of Thessaloniki. «Unfortunately, a handful of backward-looking people are distorting the image of the city,» he said to Kathimerini. It is, he continued, «the official Thessaloniki, which through events such as the Festival of Angels, awards ceremonies and statues and gives a very specific political and aesthetic feel.» The mayor’s stance can be seen in the fact that he turned down a proposal by Boutaris to bestow an award on the former heads of the Thessaloniki International Film Festival, president Theo Angelopoulos and director Michel Demopoulos, for their contribution to the institution and the city during their long tenures at the institution. Boutaris also confirmed the financial decline of the city, attributing it to a great degree to the exiting of industrial businesses from the area and to the large numbers of unemployed (over 15 percent). He also rejected Papageorgopoulos’s anti-Athens rhetoric. «When you fail to act, the easiest thing is to blame someone else,» he said. «The mayor’s tactics have an audience in the city, just like all populism. What we need now is to mobilize the thinking citizens, those who have awareness of the issues.» The input he has received so far is encouraging. «A significant number of young people are watching us closely, and they are not the only ones. People have a wish to wake up from this period of inactivity, of lethargy. It is entirely up to us.»

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