Αρχείο κατηγορίας MAIN ARTICLES IN ENGLISH

WORKS ON THE MAIN ROAD AXIS OF MANI: A BRIEF REVIEW ΟF THE PROJECTS OF THE LAST 30 YEARS

It is a generally accepted fact that the natural and cultural environment of Mani is very attractive. This is proven by the fact that many locals and foreigners choose Mani for their holidays. Tourism significantly improves the income of a large part of the permanent residents of our region, creating an atmosphere of rejuvenation, more so in the coastal areas, but also to a considerable extent in the areas further inland. All this despite the fact that the region’s main road network remains a disincentive for travellers. It it self-understood that its radical improvement should be a top priority in order to maintain and to boost the flow of visitors to the region. Unfortunately, this need has not been translated into systematic and effective interventions by local leaders and no significant measurable results have been produced in the last 30 years. Starting from the need to expand the visitor flow to our region, which is necessary for its revitalisation, we will now attempt to present a brief review of the issues related to road accessibility in Mani.

Until the First World War, transport to and from Mani was mainly done by sea, with boats running on petrol, departing from small coastal ports and moving passengers to the nearby commercial centres of Gytheio and Kalamata. Larger ships offered routes to further destinations, such as Piraeus.  In the following decades, after the publication of the 1955 Law on the Definition of the Provincial Roads and the 1956 Royal Decree on their designation by each prefecture (νομός), construction began, as an extension of the Sparta-Gytheio National Road, which had been in operation for many decades before (Gytheio was also the port of Sparta) and the Kalamata-Kambos Avias road which had been opened in the late 1930s. Because the roads were supposed to be built separately by each prefecture, many delays occurred. In Mani, it took until 1990 for the government of prime minister Tzannis Tzannetakis, οur compatriot, to finance the road linking Oitylo – Agios Nikon in order to join the two sections that had remained disconnected for many decades! Due to the rocky terrain for most of the routes, the limited means at that time and the meagre funding, the roads in Mani, even the main road axis, had to follow the winding routes of the pre-existing pedestrian and mule tracks.

Since the 1990s, for the reasons mentioned above, the number of visitors to our region began to increase, hesitantly at the beginning but with higher numbers year after year. Unmistakable proof of the interest in the region is the significant awards given to Mani from internationally recognised foreign tourism organisations. Improvements to the main road network of Mani in recent decades resulted in  getting visitors from the airport of Kalamata or from the end of the new Peloponnese motorway in Kalamata and Sparta to Mani in a more reasonable time. These are the main public works that have brought a small improvement in the travelling time on the main road axis of Mani:

a) on the western side, the construction of the new bridge at the Rintomo (Koskaraga) gorge in the 2000s; b) on the eastern side, the bypass of Gytheio with a new straight road to the western end of the Marathea – Mavrovouni plain in the 2000s and c) the reconstruction of two small sections on the road from Gytheio to Areopolis, in the area of Passava and Koutrafos in the following decade, which also slightly shortened the time of the road journey.

However, those projects that have been cancelled or delayed without ever reaching the final stage of funding for their implementation are more important. We list the main ones:

I) On the western side: a) in 2006, the failure to approve the completion, by the Prefectural Council of Messinia (Noμαρχιακό Συμβούλιο Μεσσηνίας), of the funded study that foresaw an almost straight route from the end of the new motorway in Kalamata to the bridge of Koskaraga and b) the 25-year delay in the completion of the study for the bypass Kambos – Stavropigio, which has not been funded yet.

II) On the eastern side: a) the study of remodelling the road route from Pyri (at the junction to Monemvasia and Mani) to Gytheio, which was announced 15 years ago by the Ministry of Public Works, is still in progress! and b) several improvements over the last three years to the main road axis are basically made on the traces of the first opening of the old pedestrian road – mule tracks. They certainly provide somewhat more safety for the travellers, however, they do not improve the travelling distance from the entrance to the Mani territory to specific areas.

The inability to promote the study and financing of radical improvements to the main road axis of Mani comes mainly from the lack of a unified course  of action by the local leaders who need to assert the rights of our region. We, from this position and during our personal interventions, assert that the United Mani, which we all support verbally, also means unified action, unified planning and unified assertion. This is the only way to ensure effectiveness in our claims, and to produce economic benefits that are spread throughout the geographical area of Mani, to its inhabitants and its property owners.

FROM MATHEMATICAL INTEGRALS TO ELLIPTICAL 1 APPROACHES OF SITUATIONS. THE CASE OF MANI & DEVELOPMENTAL DELAY

Our era is characterised by fragmentation. Fragmentation in the perception of events, fragmentation in their interpretation and fragmentation in the decisions. This fragmention is caused, even information overload, which to a certain point is misinformation. Under these conditions, politicians, as well as the average citizen, give up on in-depth penetration of information and on examining the purposes that led to its production. They also give up on the usefulness or harm that it causes and to whom, and its con nection to theenhancement or impairment of broader social aspirations. We can say that in most cases the fragmentation is “swallowed whole”. In other cases, however, fragmentation in situation management is produced by narrow political considerations of the data due to limited possibilities or utilitarian pursuits.

Mathematics, the science of cold logic, has established one of its most important terms, the Integrals. Through this term the all-round view of the elements under consideration is determined. It was on the basis of the Integrals that the concept of an integral approach to each situation arose and was transferred to other sciences, as well as to everyday social life. As in mathematics, where, through the Integral Approach, solid and safe results are obtained for the numerical expressions under consideration, so in the generalised application of the integral approaches to other fields, secure conclusions are reached in which only minor deviations can be accepted.

Insight is one of the key qualities that those who wish to serve in the field of politics must have. This is defined as the ability of people to foresee the developments of events at least in the medium term. Only in this way can they transform the immediate approach to the situation into an integral approach to the social causes that give rise to it. Without this comprehensive approach, events run faster than political actions and precipitate them.

The information sector is a typical case of the generalised application of practices that systematically lead to “elliptic” results, with the aim of influencing the recipients of information that is broadcast by newspapers, radio, television and the internet. Because these effects are directly linked to politics, that is, to the way in which power is exercised, it is safe to conclude that, this is how effects are created, to the greatest extent possible, on the global economy, on business activities and even on cultural activities. Ultimately, the elliptical effects in general information, through these sectors, come back to the citizens in the form of compulsory and externally directed

final choices.

The results obtained, through the processes described above, damage the foundations of democratic states, whose sound foundations rest on the universal suffrage of fully informed citizens-voters. The electors-voters, mainly through their intuition, perceive the manipulative enterprise through the elipsis in the projection of events and are pushed into unwanted choices. They are, however, attracted by proposed simplistic proposals with characteristics of immediate utility and are ultimately driven to socially ineffective choices. This is the starting and ending point of the prevalence of populist political proposals, that are based on the non-integrated practices that are applied in many parliamentary democracies.

A characteristic deviation from the integrated approach is how the issues concerning the geographical area and the population potential of Mani as a whole are treated. Although everyone accepts the single character of the region, which is summarised in the two words “United Mani”, when the time comes to draw up development and cultural programs, fragmentary proposals arise, often with no connecting features to create the notion of an integrated approach. This way of dealing with development and cultural issues in the unified Mani area is not a phenomenon of the modern period, but is a long-standing situation. It was thought, in vain, that the concentration of many dozens of self-governing communities in just two municipalities (δήμοι) would lead to a self-evident possibility of agreement on a common unified basis. It seems that the same reasons that led to the1 in this article, the term Oλοκληρώματα rerefs to a situation that is “whole, complete non-obcure”, while the term

Eλλειπτικός to a “fragmented, incomplete, obscure” situation brief dissolution, 20 years ago, of the region’s only unified development expression, the MANI DEVELOPMENT COMPANY (ANAΠΤΥΞΙΑΚΗ ΕΤΑΙΡΕΙΑ ΜΑΝΗΣ), which was founded in 1995 as a multi-stakeholder organization of all Mani & self-governing organizations and operated effectively in the first two years since its establishment, still exist in the same or modified form. The influences of the central political system, for guided choices of projects and persons by funding development programs with decentralised local management, on the basis of voter service, combined with closed local management on the basis of personal choices, continued unabated in the following years, resulting in the reduction of the strong development dynamics of our region.

The new generations have an obligation to contribute to the preservation and expansion of the development dynamics created by the unique natural and cultural space of Mani, reaching their personal goals through the prism of an integrated vision.

THE EDITORIAL BOARD

IN SEARCH OF A COMMON DENOMINATOR

The language of Mathematics with its rigid and inflexible rules can show Sociology the way the members of any society or micro-society are required to act in order to achieve remarkable results. In the case of fractions, for example, in order to be able to add up sums of unlike fractions, it is first necessary to convert them into like fractions. Only in this case can a result, i.e., a quantitative increase, be obtained. In other words, a necessary condition for creating positive results is the existence of a common denominator. Since all sciences have common backgrounds, this rule can be transferred in a similar way to Sociology. In order for the individual groups that make up the society or a region of a state, and for the state expressions of the overall human society to be successful, the existence of a common denominator is a necessary condition.

   Following the developments, decade after decade after the end of the World War II, we find that, after the first period, the loss of human lives and material destruction had created coherent and cooperative tendencies, but later these tendencies were reversed. The process of synthesis in the aspirations of social groups through consultation was receding and the aspirations of the most powerful were imposed, openly through their economic surface, and secretely through their penetration of the power mechanisms. In countries that were rich in investment capital and in highly educated human resources, a high standard of living had been created that covered the basic needs of the great majority of citizens, and therefore the process of synthesising the needs of the individual social groups found, sooner or later, ways of mild acceptance.

   In our country, which has a relatively high standard of living compared to many other countries, the process of synthesising the views and economic claims of individual social groups has not yet managed to find safe ground, although many channels are available in a democratic constitution based on electoral procedures. This is the main reason why our country has been deprived of investment capital. This shortage of capital, combined with the petty political interests of those in power, does not allow an educational policy to be established and implemented. This kind of policy could create a high-quality scientific workforce, which could be then subsequently integrated into the production process, and contribute to the creation of material capital.

   Little has changed in the way political parties operate since the establishment of the modern Greek state. Consensus, even in matters of the highest national importance, is rare and the minimal governmental partnerships simply transfer the external struggle within the government itself. Every attempt to create a private sector, which operates with rules of healthy and socially beneficial competition has failed. In the final analysis, the goals of political parties in most cases, aim at nothing more than to “consume” the state sector and to siphon off the benefits resulting from its management. It is no coincidence that our country has a huge expanded public sector (employees, direct economic activities and complex economic trade transactions with private enterprises) with a very limited degree of efficiency. Irrefutable proof is provided by the disastrous financial data during the country’s substantial bankruptcy at the beginning of the previous decade: the Greek public debt was the same size as private deposits!

   Local governments operate, in general, in a way that mimics the way the central state operates. The introduction of proportional representation in the previous elections highlighted the lack of willingness between local government groups to agree even on self-evident issues. It is rare that a common basis for cooperation between the local government groups participating in municipal/regional councils has been established. The announcements that have been published in the media clearly illustrate this lack of willingness to cooperate. So far the main objectives of both parties, i.e., the majority of the elected officials in local government organisations, as well as those in the central administration of the state, are to continue to reap the benefits of administration and to create situations for electoral victory in the next electoral processes. Coherent programs to address generalised needs of local communities, with evidence-based studies, time planning and financial tools, are rarely seen in public view. Such programs could certainly emerge if everyone, or at least the vast majority of local government officials, were willing to work together to draw them up, without greed or hidden personal ambitions.

   In this human landscape we need a common denominator. It is not only us, the editorial board of our newspaper, that are making this statement. The need for a common denominator is imposed by the difficult situations on the international scene, and their effects are cumulative in our indebted country. May we see a change of mentality imposed by the difficult times we are living in.

THE EDITORIAL BOARD

MANI: COMMON OBJECTIVES LEADING TO HOMOGENISATION OF THE GEOGRAPHICAL AREA LACKING

   Mani, our area, by the structure of its natural topography and its residential composition, defines the framework of communication and the shapes of the aspirations of its inhabitants. Full of self-contained micro-sites, with little production potential, with difficult transportation and with small settlements, Mani determines the self-sufficiency and the autonomy of each micro-site. The relations between the inhabitants of the settlements, while not lacking in sentimentality due to their common origin and genetic make-up, do not extend to complete mutual understanding. There is also the common element, of proud individual egoism, which does not allow it. As the past teaches us, it is only when the region is faced with a great common danger that the reservations are lifted and universally supported common actions are initiated.

   The developments of the last 3-4 decades remove these isolating tendencies and shape development possibilities, which can only be promoted with joint actions, spreading the benefits to all. Tendencies, in order to be able to be transformed into actions and actions into tangible results, require the existence of appropriate human resources that will act as a catalyst. In other words, what is required are human resources that have gone beyond personal aspirations and ambitions and have the ability to plan and coordinate a common course of action by defining goals and their implementation processes without having personal ambitions as the main goal. 

   A few months ago, proposals for the self-governing transformation of Mani were made public. Their announcement at festive events without documentation of how they will be promoted, to put it mildly, can only be described as naive. Such transformations require a great deal of preparation and consensus-building among those closely associated with the proposed transformations, both at the local government level and at the level of the state administration. Above all, they require a long information campaign until ordinary citizens are convinced that the proposed local government changes will have a positive impact on their daily lives and will help to improve their finances in future years. The topography of Mani, with several local centres that define local specificities, do not create optimism for easy acceptance of this kind of proposals by the majority of the individual regions.

   A significant contribution to the process of maturing a common framework could be achieved by utilising the actions of the Mani OXE program. As we mentioned in the editorial published in the previous issue (July 2022) of MANIOT SOLIDARITY: We thought in 2018, when the Integrated Spatial Investments (ΟΧΕ) Program of Mani was announced with public funding of 12,100,000 € as an addition to the credits of the Peloponnese Regional Operational Program (ΠΕΠ) (2014 – 2021), that this special financing could be a model of a harmonious synthesis of the investment needs of the private and public sector of our region. Unfortunately, in the almost four years that have passed since then, an integrated program with a Development Strategy and a solid Action Plan, has not seen the light of day. For the public technical works which have been proposed to be included in the OXE Mani Program, their fragmentary character and their unrelated form were obvious.The above also applies to the intangible actions of general utility that could be promoted through this program and financed by it.

   We have no illusions that, with the above amount of the Integrated Spatial Investments (OXE) Mani program, all the needs of the Mani geographical area could be met. What we claim is that project and action choices could have emerged, either in 2018 with the old local government team or in 2019 with the new one, following a joint proposal of the two main beneficiaries of the funding, namely the two municipalities (δήμοι) of Mani. This could have been achieved through prolonged consultations and meetings that would have as main objective projects and actions of a homogeneous and unifying nature. The lack of action of this kind finally led, due to the risk of losing part of this funding, to the initiatives undertaken by the competent Department of the Region of Peloponnese. The work of this department led to the final formulation of the program through the consolidation of the individual proposals that had been proposed by the two beneficiary municipalities of Mani and the addition of some generalised projects after a technocratic approach.Thus, given the end of the program’s time horizon, in 2023, the very concept of “integrated” contained in its title seems incomplete! And even more incomplete in terms of its potential for implementation remains the idea of self-governing or administrative reconstruction of the geographical area of Mani through the use of the resources of this program.

                                                                                                                        THE EDITORIAL BOARD

MANI: INCREASE IN PRIVATE INVESTMENTS, WHILE PUBLIC SECTOR INVESTING IS LAGGING
… this statement is confirmed by the course of development of the OHE Mani program

Ever since our very first issue of MANIOT SOLIDARITY, we had stated that the private sector invests heavily in all areas of Mani, while government sector investments are very rare and do not cover the needs of the permanent residents and visitors who are attracted to our area through private investments. During the twenty-three years that have passed since then, we can only mention one positive change: the willingness of the Peloponese Prefecture during the last three years to promote some public works in our area.
We thought in 2018, when the Integrated Spatial Investments (ΟΧΕ) Program of Mani was announced with public funding of 12,100,000 € as an addition to the credits of the Peloponnese Regional Operational Program (ΠΕΠ) (2014 – 2021), that this special financing could be a model of a successful synthesis of the investment needs of the private and public sector of our region. Unfortunately, in the almost four years that have passed since then, an integrated program with a Development Strategy and a solid Action Plan, has not seen the light of day. For the public technical works which have been proposed to be included in the OHE Mani Program, their fragmentary character and their unrelated form were obvious.This fact, combined with the long delay in the preparation of complete tender documents for the public works proposed to be included in this program, makes uncertain their reliable and successful completion within the inflexible deadlines of the program.
In contrast to the public investment part of the funding of the Mani OXE program, the tender notice for the “Support for the Modernisation of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises in the Tourism Sector” program attracted more than 120 potential investors from all regions of Mani. Unfortunately, the budget for the proposals that were to be approved through this program, was sufficient to support only one third of them, as it was limited to only 1,500,000 €. The private investors who have qualified, paying almost equal contributions for the implementation of the tourism projects they have planned, double the amount to be invested in the tourism sector in Mani! Given that two thirds of the remaining 80 proposals that were submitted are eligible, but were not funded due to lack of financing, the need to find additional funding for these proposed projects is obvious. Under these conditions, private investment in the tourism sector in Mani, through the co-financing of the Mani OHE Program, could exceed the sum of 8.000.000.000 € by 2024! We are of the opinion that, by restructuring the program’s budget of €12,100,000, the necessary funds can be found to finance the other proposed projects that have been approved in principle, but not funded. Discounts from the public works projects, both under tender or in progress, could be used for this purpose, as well as other types of provisions in the initial budget of this program.
Every summer, the number of visitors to our region rises, with the return of our compatriots of both internal and external migration and the attraction of more and more friends of our region. Τhe private sector makes good use of this generalized trend of attracting visitors,. The Maniot entrepreneurs use their available capital to establish appropriate businesses to welcome and serve our visitors. However, it is not enough that the natural, climatic and cultural environment attracts visitors; it is necessary to collectively address the technical issues that will turn this general trend of attraction into a steady, permanent state by meeting the needs of our visitors. The substantial improvement of the main road axis, the easy accessibility of our cultural monuments, the water supply, the public infrastructure inside our settlements and cleanliness are the most important needs of the visitors and tourists of Mani. The present tourist flow is served by the entrepreneurs of the area in a satisfactory way, but services need to expand with time and enrich the population of our region. Successful coordination to secure the necessary public investment, whether local, regional or state investment, is the responsibility and obligation of our local representatives.
THE EDITORIAL BOARD

MANI FACING NEW UNSTABLE GEOPOLITICAL BALANCES

It is certain that places like Mani, which bravely faced the Ottoman threat for four centuries and maintained strong elements of autonomous action and a stable course through time, have the ability to withstand any threats of the modern times. The war in Ukraine creates powerful changes in the balances so far, political, social and economic, whose repercussions reach even the smallest regions of the world, such as Mani. The challenge is to absorb the shocks caused to the balances that have been created so far and to find the tools that will be needed, given that in our time the means of dealing with new risks have changed radically. The search for new means, however, can focus on the foundations created by the epics of our ancestors: spirit and unity in action.

Before the 1821 revolution, the family economic balances in Mani were mainly based on the income from the men’s warfare and the women’s industriousness. The men collected war booty through expeditions to the sea and on land, while the women supplemented the family income by intensively cultivating the barren land and raising animals, either penned or free range. If no family financial balance was achieved, the solution was to supply labour, male labour for the heavy jobs and female labour for the lighter ones, in the neighbouring fertile plains of Messinia and Laconia.

With the establishment of the modern Greek state, Maniots exploited their natural aptitude to warfare, and a significant number of our compatriots were hired in the army and police forces. Thus was created the first migration flow to other urban and semi-urban areas, which continued unabated during the next century as a result of overpopulation, family conflicts and civil wars. Seasonal migrations during the growing and harvesting seasons also continued for a century and a half in the neighbouring fertile areas, which, in combination with the agricultural and livestock activities, balanced the family budget.

Since the last two decades of the 20th century, the number of visitors to our area began to rise, which in many cases led to the choice of longer stays for visitors. The main factors contributing to the continuous strengthening of these trends were the globalisation of markets and the improvement of air and road transport, which provided the opportunity to travel long distances at a reasonable cost and to get to know places with the quality characteristics of the geophysical landscape and climate, such as the diverse regions of Mani. In addition to the rise of the economy in our region, retired compatriots are resettling here and renovating their family home or constructing new houses to enjoy the quality characteristics of Mani’s nature and mild local climate.

The war in Ukraine has come to upset the general economic balance, and this turmoil tends to also spread to individual regions such as Mani. Inflation, which keeps rising dangerously, is reducing the stable incomes and purchasing power of employees and pensioners, while at the same time, due to the uncertainty of the war developments, it is creating a halting trend in the tourism sector. In view of these situations, each region is looking for ways to compensate for any losses from its up-to-now stable economic situation.

In our region, balance can be achieved by exploiting its underutilized productive potential, but also by effectively claiming funding and implementing public investments that contribute to adding value to its geophysical characteristics.

Agriculture, especially olive growing, livestock farming, both domestic and free-range, and beekeeping, have failed to exploit the full potential offered by the olive groves and the varied and extensive grassland areas of the Mani region. Increasing the area of family farmland, through purchases and rentals, can provide a strong family economic balance, combined with income from the tourism sector through supply of labour or short-term rentals of accommodation to visitors.

The coordination of actions of local representatives to promote the necessary public investments that benefit everyone, especially in road projects (and in particular in the main road axis Kalamata – Kardamili – Areopolis – Gythio – Sparta) and in cultural monuments, is bound to increase the visitor numbers in our region with the consequent general strengthening of its economy. In fact, with the combination of the on-site availability to the visitors of the agricultural production of the area, the local economy can be boosted even more.

The extraordinary and uncertain situations that we are experiencing today require us to remember the attitudes of our ancestors when they were called upon to face high-risk situations: spirit and unity in action.

                                                                                               ΤΗΕ ΕDITORIAL BOARD

GEOPOLITICAL / GEOSTRATEGIC PURSUITS, WARS AND HUMAN LOSSES

   In the unipolar world in which we currently live, power derives from economic robustness generated by the dominance of competitiveness in the markets.

   It is through competitiveness that China’s power has emerged and is tending to become a new pole of power. It has benefitted from the eradication of state bureaucracy through Mao’s Cultural Revolution, the population reduction through Teng Xiao Ping’s one-child-per-family policy and the low wages across a wide range of the production process. In addition, with the introduction and development of new technological systems, China gains points in the competition with the products it produces and threatens the supremacy of the United States of America, the only superpower so far.

   Russia, with its vast energy resources and large nuclear arsenal, is a crucial factor in shaping new power relations in the world. The collapse of the Soviet Union, due to the poor competitiveness of its products because of the central planning of its economy and the “grotesque” decade of Russian rule by Yeltsin that followed, showed that it was Russia’s fate to “exit” from the group of the Great Powers. However, with the combination of its nuclear arsenal and its vast energy and mineral wealth, Russia is attempting to stay in the club of the world’s powerful by exerting a dominant influence in what it calls the “Near Abroad”. Moreover, it attempts to place itself between the United States and China as a major power player, with the intention of moving the scales sometimes in one direction and sometimes in the other.

   The United States of America, relying on the increased productivity of its early immigrant inhabitants who, based on the principles of protestantism, and even more of the followers of the extreme religious sects who were expelled from European countries, managed to make the best of the unspoiled geophysical environment of the new continent and, in combination with its well-balanced political system of governance, to create long-term economic growth that has led the country to the forefront of power. However, as the large fiscal deficits accumulated over the last decades show, it seems that the American productivity is gradually declining, leading it to external borrowing. It is well worth noting that much of this borrowing is from China.

   The local wars that have so far been fought were on a non-generalised basis and were held in order to improve the conditions of power of the aggressor nation and to strengthen its economic base in various ways. Unfortunately, consideration of the value of human life and human losses is not the dominant element in making the relevant decisions of conducting wars.

   Economic competition, military hardware  and value of human life are characteristics of our time that have ceased to be associated with individual geographical units. They have acquired, due to the globalisation of markets, a global reference level. Their management, and the actions undertaken in the context of promoting them, are objects of geopolitical and geostrategic considerations. In this kind of approach, unfortunately, human life is not the dominant factor…

   On the other hand, the globalisation of markets calls for partnerships, through a competitive environment, with energy and wealth resources, the development of new technologies and, above all, the productivity of human resources as the dominant elements. A number of other factors has to be added to this multifactored landscape. Among them, nationalism poses an acute threat of upsetting the balances that tend to be created by the interaction of the individual elements of globalised markets. Economic and military wars, which always start with a cause and/or a pretext, are violent attempts to upset these balances and end up creating large-scale economic crises which, to a greater or lesser extent, permeate all the individual state economies. But the main effect of the combination of military and economic wars focuses on human losses, which thus create irreversible situations. Compared to the humanitarian disasters caused by wars, any economic successes resulting from conflicts among nations are insignificant.

   In this geopolitical landscape, the protagonists, the USA, China and Russia, work together, in pairs or all three, and at the same time clash in order to gain power and/or ensure security. For the time being, the cooperative component has been stronger, and has not yet allowed the creation of military conflicts between them due to their nuclear arsenals. However, this fact pushes them to create local conflicts in order to ensure comparative advantages in the process of economic competition. This is how the Russian invasion of Ukraine can be explained, an armed conflict, each phase of which is resulting in hundreds of human losses.

WAR AS THE WORST ENEMY OF LIFE

Since life is irreversible, it is an absolute good, and every war, which is the main enemy of life, is an absolute evil. Those who use war as a means of promoting geopolitical or nationalist aspirations certainly have a different set of values, but it is certain that life, because of its finite duration, ultimately takes revenge on them.

The hecatombs of dead of World War II, and the shock they caused to the peoples of Europe in particular, led to the belief that in the future all countries would take measures to prevent new wars. Nevertheless, there have been several civil wars, with the Greek Civil War in a prominent position, but also invasions of states in foreign territories. There was always some justification given by the assailants, but the desire for domination was the real reason for all the attacks. With the formation of two blocs of states in the first years after the end of World War II, intervention within another state of the same block by the most powerful member of that group was considered a self-evident possibility. This explains the Soviet Union’s interventions in East Germany, Hungary, Czechoslovakia and Poland, the United States’ interventions in Guatemala, Nicaragua, Panama, Iraq and Afghanistan, Great Britain’s in Egypt and in Cyprus, and France’s in Indochina and Algeria. The intervention of Turkey in Cyprus was based on a similar logic, which, benefitting from the ill-considered supranationalist actions of Greece, netted 40% of the island. All these interventions were really wars on a small scale, resulting in many deaths and abundant spilled human blood.

The almost bloodless dissolution of the Soviet Union and the coalition of states that it controlled was supposed to enable humanity to look forward to a future without blocks and interventions, in a world where states could freely exercise the choices made by their citizens. Unfortunately, this was not the course that was followed. The remaining coalition of states was strengthened and expanded, and a new bloodbath was caused, as it happened with the conflicts in the former Yugoslavia; of course, there were some justifications, which could subsequently be used by others to ostensibly justify their own invasions. That is how we got to Russia’s current intervention in Ukraine. The alleged genocide of Russian-speakers in Ukraine and the need for security have again been used to justify the new war that we are experiencing.

In the world we live in at the moment, power stems from the economic robustness produced by the dominance of competitiveness in the markets. China is taking on a new power role that has emerged through competitiveness. China benefitted from the dissolution of the state bureaucracy through Mao’s Cultural Revolution, the reduction of the population with the policy of one child per family, established by Den Xiaoping, and the low wages in a wide range of the productive process. In addition to all this, with the introduction and development of new technological systems, China is becoming increasignly competitive with the goods it produces and is threatening the supremacy of the United States of America, the only superpower so far. People are watching with concern the interactions between military and economic power that have taken shape in recent years. It is unknown where humanity is heading and what balances can be struck to avoid new wars due to power struggles of a generalised nature and at a huge cost in human lives.

 It is no coincidence that in one of the first ecclesiastical books of our religion, but also of Judaism, one of the most critical events that is narrated is the Cain-Abel fratricide. Perhaps this expresses that the inner tendency of people for imposition and domination often prevails over blood ties and can even lead to fratricidal conflicts. A quick look at the recent civil wars, recorded in history, confirms this. In particular, the wars in Yugoslavia and Ukraine are clearly wars between members of the same ethnic group, but in these cases secondary elements, such as statehood or religion, have prevailed at the expense of a common genetic heritage and a common history in earlier times. The Serbs and the islamized Slavs of Bosnia have a common Slavic origin. So did the Ukrainians (first Russians) with the modern Russians. However, this did not stop Cain’s syndrome from prevailing, resulting in fratricidal wars and heavy casualties.

                                                                                                                                     THE EDITORIAL BOARD

HOW CAN THE CONTINUOUS DECREASE OF POPULATION IN RURAL AREAS, AND SPECIFICALLY IN MANI, BE ABATED

The first statistics of the modern Greek state show that Mani was overpopulated, with a population higher than 30.000 inhabitants. Two hundred years later, migration, mainly for economic reasons, combined with low birth rates, have resulted in population much less than half of that! If we look at the age demographics, the conclusion is disheartening, because of the very advanced age of most of Mani’s permanent population. Low birth rates and migration are fully justified social phenomena, since both usually happen when people cannot satisfy basic needs. Unfortunately, in Greece we have not had coordinated state policies aiming at retaining the existing population and increasing the low birth rates of rural areas, and particularly of Mani. We believe that many areas in the countryside, particularly areas like Mani which have low production, but are endowed with desirable geophysical, climatic and cultural characteristics, could contribute to the increase of the population and the wealth of our country, if the state showed more interest and implemented area-specific development programs.

It is certain that in recent decades Mani has attracted many visitors and that the income of its permanent residents has increased. It is also certain that the tourist needs of the summer are such, that the local workforce does not suffice and it has to be strengthened with workers coming from the neighbouring urban areas and even foreigners. However, this staff is seasonal, and in winter even the seaside resort towns are sparsely populated. The increased value of real estate is very beneficial to its owners, however, it is a deterrent for the permanent settlement of the seasonally employed. If real estate were cheaper, the seasonally employed staff could potentially settle in the area, have families and increase the population of Mani.

If we do not want our country to be weakened in terms of population, we need efficient general measures and complete development problems that will have as a goal the strengthening of its population. These measures should be area-specific, with an emphasis on areas which have growth potential in critical areas, such as tourism. The characteristics of these programs should be the strengthening of public education from day care centres and kindergarten to High School, subsidised low-interest loans so that those who cultivate the land could buy it, and financial support of small year-round tourist units, the operations of which will be coordinated through a specialised “chamber” service run by the state. Of course, all of these integrated programs should be supported by state infrastructure, with the emphasis on roads, so that products and services can be moved quickly and efficiently to their final destinations.

The development policies applied so far have led to the creation of a hydrocephalic urban center, the capital Athens, and 5 or 6 other big urban centres of smaller population. Ιn these urban centres is concentrated the secondary sector (handicraft, industry etc.), assisted by the service sector. The potential for employment in these sectors leads to the gradual movement of persons from the countryside to the cities, and weakens the population of rural areas. What should really be happening instead is that area-specific state programs should promote the establishment and operation of industrial units for the processing of local agricultural products in each of the production areas. These programs should also connect the local industrial units with the export trade network, so that the part of the production that is not absorbed inland can be exported to other countries.

Α popular Greek proverb says: if a child does not cry, his mother does not give him food. It seems that in the area of active promotion of “substantiated proposals”, rural areas fall behind. There has been a lack of the necessary “good pipelines” that will present the needs of the residents of the countryside to the central administration, so that priorities can be established and appropriate political decisions can be taken. The weakening of the rural population has resulted in its under-represenation at both central and regional level. Consequently, the few representatives remaining in each place are overwhelmed with multiple obligations. This situation requires a particularly high level of coordination of residents in each sub-region, in order to strengthen the conditions for submission and promotion of the substantiated proposals to those state and regional institutions which are responsible for making critical decisions for the future of the country.

                                                               THE COORDINATING COMMITTEE

THE CONTINUOUS PRODUCTION AND HUMAN TRANSFORMATIONS OF MANI

From the texts that have been published in MANIOT SOLIDARITY, we can conclude with certainty that there is a continuous change in the productive activities in the region and consequently a corresponding transformation of the perceptions of its inhabitants. All these changes are happening in the same geophysical and climatic background, the characteristics of which are shaping the new transformations. These changes depend on the prevailing trends in the fields of economy and employment on an international scale. Below we will refer to the two transformations which preceded the third one that is currently underway.

The first transformation was in the lives and activities of the inhabitants of Mani, as they evolved in the 18th century until the national uprising of 1821 and the founding of the modern Greek state. Its main characteristics were militancy and the tendency for autonomy, in a social environment devoid of authoritarian powers to restrain them. Βecause it was difficult to secure sufficient family finances due to the limited agricultural productivity, it was necessary to secure the financial resources needed through piracy or armed incursions into neighbouring fertile areas.

The second transformation introduced the model of living and acting that developed during the 200 years that have passed since the founding of the modern Greek state. Since the previous model could not be continued, as it was not allowed by the legal order of the new state, it was necessary to find new ways of economic balance. The new conditions led to migrations to other places where living and working conditions ensured financial family balance. These migrations created dense Maniot communities in Kalamata, sparser in the neighbouring Messinian towns, and even denser in the neighbouring provinces of Lacedaemon and Epidaurus Limira, as well as in the city of Sparta, in Laconia. Migrations were also frequent, initially in the mining area of ​​Lavrion and denser ones in Piraeus. There was also immigration to other countries, to industrial areas of the United States during the first decades of the last century, and to Australia and Germany during the first decades after the middle of the last century. With the gradual expansion of the educational system of the modern Greek state in the areas of Mani, it was possible to transform the traditional warfare into brilliant careers for Maniots in the areas of the National Armed Forces, but also in journalism and politics. This constant migratory flow reduced the domestic population and, combined with the strengthening of the financial resources of seasonally employed families in neighbouring rural areas during the growing or harvesting seasons, ultimately created a family financial balance.  

The opening of the markets and the possibility for fast transfer of products, capital and people gave tourism, both external and internal, the possibility to grow year by year. Mani, with its unique geophysical, climatic and cultural characteristics, has become one of the areas with increased demand for buying land. These characteristics have resulted in larger numbers of tourists in our area, but also in visitors purchasing plots of land or houses and becoming permanent residents. These facts have also been highlighted by international organisations, specialised in measuring the trends of traffic in the various regions, and have led to Mani receiving many international awards. From these starting points, in recent decades, a new, third, transformation has begun to take shape, at the heart of which is the tourism “industry” and construction activity. The conditions are now favourable for the restoration of a stable family economic balance, both for Greek citizens and for the many foreign owners of houses and properties in our area. This transformation is in an evolutionary course, and in order for it to stabilise and to achieve dynamic growth at higher levels, it is necessary to improve the characteristics that make our region so attractive. As geophysical and climatic characteristics change little over time, little remains to be done in order to maintain and develop our tourism traffic, but there are still two things that we could do in this regard: a) preserve and promote our cultural monuments and b) connect our visitors with the local agricultural production in order to form model agrotourism operations highlighting Mani food products. These two goals, in addition to the improvement of public infrastructure (roads, squares, ports, water and sewerage networks, etc.), can be achieved only through joint actions by all Maniots who need to understand the new trends and mobilise accordingly. 

The circumstances are favourable, given that at the regional and state level there is positive interest in our area. It is up to our local representatives to document these needs and to promote them through joint proposals. Let us hope that this will be achieved, albeit belatedly, and that the third transformation of Mani in modern times will also bring the expected permanent economic balance.

THE EDITORIAL BOARD