NEWS

Giorgos Kordomenidis

«The bitter truth is that the ‘ultra-conservative Thessaloniki’ people talk about is real,» said Giorgos Kordomenidis, director of the literary magazine Endefktyrio. «And this is expressed mainly by the choices citizens make at the level of local government. The almost 20-year domination of the same political party in the central town hall of the Thessaloniki municipal structure is indeed worth studying as a political and social phenomenon.» Abandoned by Athens Many Thessalonians believe – and they are not entirely wrong – that the central governments of the last two decades abandoned Thessaloniki to its own devices, Kordomenidis continued. «And this feeling is so strong that the citizens tend to pardon the ineffectual local leadership, which may even be (re)elected as a counterbalance or as a punishment to the central administration which they feel cares nothing for Thessaloniki,» he said. «Simultaneously, at a local government level we know that there have been convincing alternative proposals. The lack of courage displayed by the center-left to support the truly promising nomination of Yiannis Boutaris unfortunately represents yet one more indication of the declining reflexes of the opposition.» For Kordomenidis, who is at the forefront of the city’s intelligentsia, this is not the only side of Thessaloniki. «Unfortunately, it is the only side that is put forth, almost systematically, as if some people have opted to put their money on those who express stagnation, constantly disregarding the fact that the city has ‘another face’ which is far more level-headed, creative and productive,» he said. «The university, the business world, the world of the arts and letters, the overall society of Thessaloniki (just like every other city of its size and historical background) has some very bright minds and active people, progressive people (in the essential sense of the term and not as used in politics) who, however, are in no rush to cash in on their work or to take advantage – between the commercial breaks – of the 15 minutes of fame they could have had coming to them, as Andy Warhol said.» Lost opportunity Kordomenidis sees Thessaloniki’s reign as the Cultural Capital as a lost opportunity. He said that he doesn’t want to undermine the positive elements it produced, such as a blossoming of construction and renovation, the renaissance was not used as a way to plan for the future – which has now arrived. «What remained from this burst of construction was taken over and completed by the big players in the local government and politicians from other parties with exceptionally warped ideas about the cultural character that was most fitting for them,» he said. «The result, for example, is that on the one hand we have renovated and modernized venues that remain unused, and, on the other, anxious and homeless cultural bodies such as the Techni historical association and small theater groups that have been doomed to carry out their work in basement spaces or wandering from one theater to another.»