The real Athens and visions of Paris

We don’t understand why Athens Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis is so worried about the capital becoming like Paris or «other European cities,» because as citizens there is nothing we would like better. We only wish we had clean streets, broad boulevards, parks and fountains. Now, if in this far superior city called Athens we were at all worried about rising tension with immigrants, then maybe we could share the mayor’s concerns. In that case we certainly would be worried about becoming like Paris, but at least we could air our concerns in a nicer environment than the one promised by Nikitas Kaklamanis. Our politicians have one fault. They worry more about things outside their jurisdiction, obviously so that they can spend less time dealing with matters within their scope. This week, for example, Environment Minister Giorgos Souflias expressed his concern at events in Zoniana, Crete, but not once did he mention the pollution of the Agyias River. Similarly, Kaklamanis neglected to inform citizens about developments concerning Panathinaikos’s new soccer stadium, which is within his jurisdiction, but instead shared his views on the immigration issue, which is someone else’s problem. Kaklamanis informed the prime minister of changes in plans for the restoration of the district of Elaionas (and especially regarding the soccer stadium), noting that changes would be made to the current agreement with the administration of the soccer club. «When we are ready, we will announce the details and present them to the municipal council. Things are going well,» said the mayor. But we citizens do not know precisely what is going well and, more importantly, we don’t even know when we might learn. The prime minister has been informed about an issue concerning the city of Athens, but the municipal council, the representatives of the people of Athens, have not. It would appear that the very real issue of the Elaionas district – we don’t mind if it becomes like a «good Paris» – is a matter that concerns the prime minister alone, whereas the possibility of Athens becoming like a «bad Paris» should concern all political parties. There is nothing wrong with politicians voicing their opinion on a broad range of subjects. It might be interesting to hear what Kaklamanis has to say about global warming. But these general concerns come second to the garbage filling the streets and the future of Elaionas. So, let’s first see Athens becoming like Paris in its most rudimentary aspects (such as cleanliness) and then we can all band together and save Athens from the other problems facing the French capital. Before being elected, Kaklamanis said that he’s a man of few words. Now he’s pontificating about the problems facing Paris and we still don’t know what’s happening in Votanikos.