Each department has its own reason

Right after autonomy was granted to Vrahasi, Tsaritsani and Zoniana, a number of other communities demanded similar treatment – Rapsani, Falani, Kokkinopilos and others in the prefecture of Larissa, Mavromati in Karditsa, Glafyres, Kerasia, Kanalia and others in Magnesia, Platamonas, Nei Pori, Dion and more in Pieria, Mousiotitsa in Ioannina, Nea Santa in Kilkis, Neos Marmaras in Halkidiki, Hortiatis, Aghialos and others in Thessaloniki, Doxato, Volakas in Drama, Elounda in Lasithi, Kastro in Viotia, Atsipopoulo in Rethymnon and many other municipal departments have called for secession from their municipalities. Kathimerini talked to many local community president. In Dion, a municipal department comprising the old village of Dion that gave its name to the Capodistrias municipality, the some 2,000 inhabitants who live no further than 9 kilometers from the municipality’s new seat are calling for their autonomy. Their president, Mr Kilipouris, claims the reasons are purely to do with history. «This is an important archaeological site and yet now we are having to share the name with others. We want our name back,» he said. In Rapsani, which was incorporated into the municipality of Kato Olympos, residents want autonomy because, as their President Christos Gerovasilis claims, the development of the area depends on the willingness of the mayor. In the Rapsani region, which has about 1,700 inhabitants, nothing was done during the first four years of the Capodistrias program. Later on, however, as even dissidents concede, they managed to be included in development and funding plans as well as the Natura program. «We are not extremists,» said Gerovassilis, «We simply feel dependent on the good will of the mayor who happens to be in office.» Rizomylos, in Magnesia, with about 1,800 inhabitants, has been incorporated into the municipality of Karla. It is calling for autonomy because, as its president, G. Englezos, claims, the village is «dynamic and can hold its own.» The village is on a plain and just four kilometers from the municipality’s seat, but does not want to accept co-existence with other communities that they say have a different mentality and culture to theirs. In Elounda, which belongs to the municipality of Aghios Nikolaos, the call for autonomy is purely an economic one. «We have given the municipality of Aghios Nikolaos a great deal of money,» said community president Giorgos Barbounis, «and our municipal department is not getting anywhere. Between 1999 and 2003 we gave the municipality 1,850 million drachmas but very few projects were carried out here.» The department, with 2,000 inhabitants, is just nine kilometers from the town hall. It has decided to carry out a feasibility study on the issue of autonomy. In Aghialos, Thessaloniki, the call for autonomy was made about two months ago, but less insistently than elsewhere. Aghialos, with a population of 1,000, is perhaps the richest municipal department in the municipality of Thessaloniki, as it is the home of several large industries (such as SIDENOR, Biohalko). It is calling for independence as it feels it has not been treated justly. However, it is generally recognized that many public works have been carried out in recent years.The school has been refurbished, a senior citizens’s center (KAPI) and cultural center have been opened, lighting has been improved and sidewalks reconstructed. However, the locals feel they have been used. In Nea Santa, an industrial area of 3,000 inhabitants almost at the entrance to Kilkis, conflict with neighboring Kambani goes right back to when the populations of both villages lived in formerly Greek areas on the Black Sea coast. Apparently, the inhabitants of Nea Santa were looked down on by the Kambani people because they manufactured the Turks’ weapons. After the Capodistrias program established the seat of the new municipality of Galliko in Kambani, the old conflict was revived.