OPINION

Bar checks are unfair, stifling

At a time when many Greek islands are struggling to maintain their tourist businesses, the local legislators seem determined to contribute to the continuing nosedive of tourist figures. Here in Skala Eressos, Lesvos, local law dictates that music must be kept to a reasonable sound level, and that it must finish by 1 a.m. on weekdays, and 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights. During a pre-season «pep» talk, the mayor assured local bar owners the draconian local music laws would be relaxed in the approach to and during Olympic Games celebrations. Yet on August 10, a woman bar owner, Lena Tzigounaki, was arrested, held overnight, and taken to court, for slightly exceeding the permitted decibel levels at her bar, The Tenth Muse. Every year tourists here are disappointed they cannot dance until at least 3 a.m., and frequently are made to feel intimidated by the presence of armed local policemen invading bars for the slightest reason. However, if the music is live, and traditional, as with the local village festival, the decibel and late music laws are completely disregarded by the police and local dignitaries. Those of us who come to make our lives here come because of our deep love of this place. We do not seek to over-commercialize Eressos but to enhance the prosperity for all who live here. Continual complaints about the failure of the tourist industry are kept to a local level, because of the inertia of local businesspeople, and the oppressive nature of local law enforcement. In a year when we should be celebrating everything Greek, one can only wonder at the self-destructive nature of some of its people. How can it be acceptable for a woman to be arrested and held overnight for such a slight offense? It would be unimaginable in any other EU country, and is an affront to human rights legislation. If the bottom drops out of the tourist industry in Skala Eressos, the local people will have only themselves to blame. CAROLINA DENNING, Lesvos.