OPINION

Passing the buck

The sorry state of the Olympic Rowing Center and the Schinias National Park, just a year after the Olympic Games, should be of concern to us as a civil society and, above all, show the government where they should turn their attention if they want to achieve growth and progress. The unsightly garbage dump in the unique and historic seaside pine forest – where swimmers are forced to take along a rake to sweep away the refuse left by the previous day’s sun worshippers – is a disgrace to our society. Undoubtedly responsibility lies with the individual but there is also the question of people’s behavior and lack of sensitivity. A society whose members don’t care about their environment cannot be brought to order by administrative measures; the state cannot change mentalities. Nevertheless, in this particular case, the state is competing with its disorderly citizens in its negligence and destructive behavior. An indication of its contempt for the environment is the way it is passing the buck – from the Municipality of Marathon to the organization that manages our national parks, the park management back to the municipality, while the Culture Ministry is distancing itself from the park and blaming the destruction of the rowing lake on the growth of reeds. This is where we must examine the political aspects of the issue. The maintenance of national parks is linked to the standards we have as a culture, perhaps the most important ones, as well as being intrinsically tied to the standards of development we hope to achieve. This rowing lake, which cost an exorbitant amount of money and which is fast turning into a swamp and source of disease, is an indication of an amazing degree of negligence and lack of planning, to say the least. At a time when the entire population is being subjected to a tight fiscal policy and reforms, when the prime minister is calling for discipline and caution and seeking an upturn in the economy, it is simply not right to let valuable state property and an irreplaceable natural environment deteriorate in such an outrageous manner. If certain authorities are not able to carry out their duties – including the installation of a system to protect against forest fires that has already been paid for – or take too long in doing so, or if local powers-that-be turn a blind eye to the illegal construction on the coastline of the national park, then the state should remind them that they are acting against national interests. Let the state set an example by protecting national resources with all the means at its disposal.