Αρχείο κατηγορίας MAIN ARTICLES IN ENGLISH

THE DESIGNATION OF THE URBAN AREA OF MANI AT A CRITICAL PHASE OF DEVELOPMENT

In Mani with its strong family traditions, the horizons of interest of its inhabitants were, for many centuries, limited. In the old closed societies of small villages, these interests were confined to the interior of the patriarchal family or perhaps to their village boundaries. People built their houses on barren land, cultivated the few fertile soils and grazed their livestock in common pastures. Only in exceptional circumstances, those that threatened the long-term balance of space and security of life, did Maniots undertake joint actions designed to safeguard pre-existing situations. In our century, however, these closed small societies have opened up permanently. The sources of income have also opened up with them. Barren land has, in many locations, become more profitable than fertile land, and its residential development yields a lot more income than many fertile lands of the same size. Despite all this, joint management, based on the the whole land area, has not made significant progress. Joint management efforts have been limited to uncoordinated loud protests and incomplete approaches to the development of new situations, which are the consequence of generalised planning and legislative initiatives undertaken at the central level.

The residential area that is clearly designated, with the exception of Gytheio, dates back to 1923, and is defined as the outline of the houses that existed then. The interventions to enlarge it, as a result of either social needs or political interests, expanded the residential areas to a certain extent and created new situations, from which many landowners benefited and improved their finances. Expansions of residential space, combined with the possibility of building outside residential areas for plots of land larger than four stremmas, came about through successive legislation starting as far back as 1955. These legislations referred to the possibility of building on small lots with frontage on provincial and municipal (formerly community) roads. A significant boost to construction activity was also allowed by the possibility of building on plots, self-contained before 1985, that were located in the zone of 800 meters from the center of the settlements that were more than two kilometers from the sea and had been classified as population stagnant.

These legislative regulations, which are positive for the finances of many families in Mani, have been inadequately applied by many beneficiaries and government bodies. Tritsis’ legislation for small urban planning initiatives with the provision of roads and squares in the zone of 800 meters of stagnant settlements, was silenced by his successors in the Ministry of Urban Planning and by the Prefects who were deciding to which settlements this legislation was applicable. Land concessions to common use before the issuance of building permits for off-plan incomplete plots, although they were drawn up with notary deeds and were registered in the land registry offices, remained in most cases on paper, due to the inertia of local government representatives to implement them. Something similar happened with the municipal roads, for which there are not even clear procedures for their final determination in each municipality.

In view of the intense tourist development in the country, and particularly of Mani, the need arose for changes in the definition of the urban area of each district, starting from the existing urban situation. The funding from the Development and Stability Fund for the preparation of Local Special and Urban Plans, settlement delimitation studies, municipal road designation, and their subsequent publication, are, in principle, an important contribution to the designation of the residential area. However, it has not become clear how long the whole procedure will take nor have the elements that will be taken into account in order to draw up the urban plan for each settlement been defined. Usually, because it is in the interests of the designers to prolong the completion time of the work and consequently their fees, the contractual time is extended significantly. However, this delay is in direct conflict with the interests of landowners in the study areas, since they are thus deprived of the exercise of their rights over their properties.

Several problems regarding the issuance of building permits have recently appeared in many areas of Mani, especially in those for which there is a significant demand for tourist development through proposals for inclusion in investment laws. There may be a basis for the state’s hesitancy to introduce transitional legislative arrangements, for fear of creating a new generation of residential distortions, but it loses its justification when the supervising ministers cannot ensure the timely completion and implementation of the Local Urban Plans under preparation. An additional and particularly important factor is to ensure transparency in all phases of the development of this urban planning process. It is necessary that the elected local authorities have full knowledge of the framework in which the urban plans of their area will be drawn up. This knowledge, together with the possibility for improvement and the relating of the opinion of their citizens with legitimate claims to the appropriate authorities should be the first obligations of the local politicians. This is because Urban Plans do not only concern the current residents, but mainly the generations to come…

THE EDITORIAL BOARD

QUALITY IS THE KEY TO CREATING A “BRIGHT” FUTURE FOR MANI

Studies concerning the evolution of nations in their historical course over the centuries conclude that the nations which survive are the ones which have a strong cultural base. Migrations, which lead to mixing of population groups with different cultural backgrounds, ultimately result in the predominance of the main characteristics of the culturally stronger population group. Mani’s history confirms these findings. Since the 3rd century AD, when it began to emerge as an autonomous region, it was subjected to diverse relocations of population groups (Romans, Slavs, Franks, Arvanites, Venetians). But with language being the main cultural element from the start, and religion afterwards, it was able to assimilate and integrate most of the different characteristics of these populations into its own cultural backgrounds. An important factor in this development was the autonomy of the region, based on the geophysical structure of its terrain and the warlike character of its inhabitants. The martial nature of the area increasingly developed by enriching the martial ability of its original inhabitants, inherited from their Spartan origins, with corresponding characteristics of the population groups that were relocated to its geographical area.

With the establishment of the modern Greek state, the autonomous characteristics of the region began to gradually fade, first with its integration into the administrative and legal system of the state and then with the removal of its transportation isolation. On the other hand, the migratory tendency of its overpopulation, which had been created in the previous period, caused in some cases a strong weakening of the cultural characteristics of the region.

However, during the last few decades, external changes, both of an administrative and economic nature, have changed the cultural backgrounds that had existed until then. The accession to the European Union, and especially the globalisation, accompanied by easy and rapid movement of people and goods, created new conditions of economic balance in the geographical area of Mani. Its privileged geophysical and climatic characteristics, due to the “opening up” caused by the removal of its transportation isolation, began to attract more and more visitors as well as people wishing to settle permanently in the area. This trend leads year after year to the generation of new income, to the extent of more than covering the shortfall in income from local production sources. What is required, in order to shape the characteristics of Mani of the future, is to make effective use of these trends for the benefit of its residents, both permanent and relocated, as well as the quality upgrade of the area. Above all, however, it is the formation of the necessary new cultural backgrounds that will harmoniously integrate the new population groups settling in the area.

The partitioning of properties, a legacy of the long-standing institution of patriarchal families, creates the first shield against large investment projects that would alter the natural characteristics of the area. It is also an indirect incentive to reinvest in our geographical area the incomes generated by the large number of visitors and the sale of houses and land. If entrepreneurs actually reinvest in Mani, the only thing that will be additionally required is the improvement of the quality of operation of the new investments according to the demands of the tourist market. However, achieving this will require good planning and, above all, joint action.

The aim will always be to offer better quality services by local entrepreneurs in a competitive environment. They, due to the opening of markets, will have to compete with others who may have more investment funds, easier access to international tourist agencies and more organised services for visitors. It goes without saying that this requirement leads to the need for reformed cultural backgrounds resulting from the qualitative upgrading of education and training in the region. We believe that parents have the first say in advancing this pursuit. If conscious parents generally have an obligation to take care of their children’s education, parents-entrepreneurs have a greater obligation to ensure that lasting quality is an integral part of their family businesses. Since the local entrepreneurs of the coming decades will have attended schools in the region, at least in the first stage, it becomes a necessity to upgrade their quality. In order to achieve this goal, the role of parents and local self-governing bodies is as important as the role of teachers and public education in general. Only close partnerships between these factors can lead to the desired results. The historical approach of this kind of partnerships, those created a few decades ago and which led to a revival of the educational structures of our region, could serve as a model for the proposed partnerships.

THE EDITORIAL BOARD

25 YEARS OF PUBLICATION AND WE ARE STILL CARRYING ON…

It is 25 years since one Saturday night the members of our association decided to publish a monthly newspaper with the title MANIOT SOLIDARITY. We started with the desire to find a way for the message of SOLIDARITY to overcome all divisional tendencies, which the Maniots and philo-Maniots were trying to undo. It was not easy, but when the will is strong, all obstacles can be overcome. The difficulties of starting a newspaper were many: none of us knew anything about publishing, and particularly the technical part of this new endeavour was forbidding; we had to face personal and local rivalries and numerous negative reactions from the field of micro-politics. However, we managed to overcome all the adversities that presented themselves by our strong will to create a collaborative dimension and thus contribute to the qualitative and economic development of our region and the improvement of the life of its inhabitants. The fact that this newspaper has reached its readers without interruption every month for all these 25 years is due to the high ideals and lofty goals at the founding of the publication. It was these aims that led us year after year to improve each edition.

The newspaper’s content was crystallised from the beginning. Since human behaviour is, to a large extent, predetermined by the initial genetic characteristics of our ancestors, we agreed that our focus should be the presentation of the Mani of yesterday. It was a difficult argument, given that we would have to resort to historical research and that the findings were mostly scattered and fragmentary. We had to discover these fragments, connect them together and group them. In the name of the high aims of the publication, we shouldered the necessary cost, in time and intensity of effort, to further the original goals. The results of this extensive historical research presented in each monthly issue of MANIOT SOLIDARITY were revisited and homogenised. This is how the two-volume book entitled PAGES FROM THE HISTORY OF MANI was created. The book presents the historical events associated with Mani, from the early years, when it appeared independently on the historical scene, until the outbreak of the Revolution of 1821.

It goes without saying that most of the material is dedicated to the Mani of today and to all Maniots, whether they reside in our area or elsewhere. However, our definition of the concept “news” is different than the one given by most modern newspapers. In our case, we filter out the news that conceals petty political agendas, or news that feeds gossip and contradicts the principle of SOLIDARITY, the overriding aim of this publication.

Since we look forward to the Mani of the future, a Mani that is brighter, open to those who approach it with a friendly attitude, a Mani in continuous economic progress, it is necessary that an important part of our content concerns the development prospects of our region. Since funding for public projects is limited, due to the small political influence resulting from the small number of residents, we attempt to identify and present in a gentle way the shortcomings that lead to reduced efficiency of the projects.

In the 25 years since the beginning of this publication, much has changed in terms of our readership; a significant number of the members of our association are no longer with us, and a new generation of readers has emerged, with a different starting culture. Therefore, we thought it was appropriate to form and display our website, www.maniatiki.gr on the Internet, with a dense content of material. There, in addition to important articles from each issue of the printed publication, many facts, mainly historical-geographical data about our region, but also articles of a timeless nature by prominent Maniots, have been posted on a permanent basis. The high traffic of the website has justified this initiative.

In this retrospective text, which is related to our long publishing effort, it would be remiss if no reference was made to the crucial points of this journey. A strong impetus at the starting point was the voluntary financial contribution of a large number of our members, while in the long course the cost of the publication is limited only to the printing and mailing costs. All the rest (energy, telephone, processing, subscription collection costs, accounting, creation and formatting of the material of each issue) is covered, at no expense to the association, by the main contributors to the publication. However, strong financial shocks have been created by the three increases in postal fees as well as the recent increase in the cost of printing materials (paper and ink). This last obstacle has been overcome by the fact that the main contributors to the publication have taken over the last phase of the layout of the material, i.e., the pagination of the material to be printed.

It would be an omission in this report if we did not note, along with our thanks, the strong contribution to the progress of our publishing effort, of Maniot and philo-Maniot businessmen, who entrusted us with entries promoting their business activities through the columns of our newspaper. In closing, we feel obliged to thank, also on this occasion, all our faithful subscribers who pay their annual subscription fee on time, with many of them paying paying more than the subscription fee.

It is with these pillars of support that we continue our publishing effort, envisioning Mani of the future, as brighter, more cooperative and with increased prosperity for its children.

THE EDITORIAL BOARD

WE ARE IN A PHASE OF PROLONGED INTROSPECTION…

The tragic train accident in the valley of Tempi has strongly shocked Greek society. The reports and the accompanying images have overturned individual laissez-faire attitudes, family complacency and ambitious political plans for success. The emotions created have thoroughly permeated all layers of our society horizontally and vertically. It seems that as long as this shock lasts, radical changes will be initiated in the long-established perceptions of easy wealth and indifference to the societal consequences, which are held by a large part of the country’s population.

Until now, the mismanagement of public transport projects has been limited mainly to material losses, with a significant part of the financing being used for purposes other than those that it was intended to promote. Dealing with this type of mismanagement was aimed mainly at silencing rather than eliminating these wrongdoings. An extended parasitic middle class benefited financially and in return supported the political leaders that tolerated and covered these wrongdoings. Until now, these administrations have mainly led to the quiet deterioration of public finances. This deficiency was compensated for mainly by means of indirect taxation, which mostly affects the lower strata of society, and in this way everything was taken care of for the protagonists of the fraud and their supporters. Car accidents were excessive in comparison with other European countries, but because they were scattered over time, they appeared for a short time in the public sphere and then they were quickly forgotten. The same thing happened with maritime and air accidents. The statements by the government officials promising to address the causes of these accidents were also quickly forgotten. Now, however, the shock is too strong due to the large number and the young age of the victims, as well as due to the biblical images that we all saw, vividly depicting the disaster. Society now looks forward to an in-depth and retrospective investigation in order to find the causes which, while creating economic benefits for a few, ultimately led to the loss of life of innocent young people. The election period in which the country finds itself pushes for “cleansing” processes, and citizens expect to see them consolidated before the impact of the shock wears off.

As it appears from the data so far, the fatal railway accident at Tempi resulted from the combination of two main causes: a) the deficient supply of services in key sectors and b) the failure to implement necessary modernisation investments. The first is the combined result of entrenched attitudes and a lack of basic education. The second is an extension of common practices in the execution of public works. It should be noted at this point that the aforementioned are phenomena which, in most cases, are passed over without much social reaction. It is from this lethargy that the deaths of our unfortunate young people have come to bring society out. Let us be optimistic that they will succeed in doing so by uprooting deeply entrenched attitudes.

The first of the above-mentioned causes is rooted in the inefficiency of the country’s educational system in its obligation to provide students with a broad base of general education. This inadequacy prevents the effective retraining of the workforce which, due to the rapid change in the demand for specific skills in the labour market, is deemed necessary to combat unemployment. Unfortunately, the origins of the problem are not understood by a large part of society, which wants to believe that retraining can be carried out through formal seminars, which the trainees do not even bother to attend regularly and in their entirety.

The second of the causes mentioned above, the generalised underperformance of public works, and especially of transport projects that have a more direct impact on the safety of citizens, is a permanent situation in our country. (We analysed this problem in its entirety in the editorial of the March 2023 (No. 288) issue of MANIOT SOLIDARITY, which was entitled: European Community Programs: EU Funds Inefficiently Used). Theentire development – grid – study – tender – implementation – delivery – commissioning – is carried out within a small circle of persons far from societal control. Unfortunately, the relevant legislation also supports this approach. The following few observations confirm our views:

a) the techno financial studies, which are the starting point for the implementation of projects, are often revised during the course of construction, resulting in significant financial impacts on public finances, without the authors being held responsible;

b) the original studies are often revised in terms of the allocation of amounts to the individual works foreseen for each project, often even by providing for new works with new prices that had not emerged through the tendering process;

c) the above often lead to additional costs that significantly increase the cost of their implementation;

d) the acceptance of the projects is usually carried out using random approaches since the supervisory controls during their execution are limited; and

e) the deadline for automatic approval and amortisation of responsibilities for any bad work is very short.

Unfortunately, most of the above are also true for the long-running project to allow remote control of the Greek railways, the lack of which contributed to the recent tragic accident at Tempi.

Most of the aforementioned observations also apply to the few public road works that have been or are being carried out in the Mani region, fortunately with limited impact on the safety of citizens so far.

                                                                                                     ΤΗΕ ΕDITORIAL BOARD

ΕUROPEAN COMMUNITYPROGRAMS: EUFUNDSINEFFICIENTLYUSED

The European Community Program 2014-2020, which was extended until 2022, is now a thing of the past. Now is the time of reckoning. Brussels will soon reach its conclusions and present them. We have been following the course and development of this program and will be presenting some of the facts regarding projects that have been financed by the European Community Program 2014-2020 below.

Mature projects have been integrated with long delays. For the most part, the institutions, mainly state and local authorities, which had not prepared the necessary technical and economic studies in time and had not obtained the permits required by the current legislation, were responsible. Many bodies, mainly local authorities, imagined that with just a project title and a brief cover letter they would win the coveted funding for a project important to their region and its inhabitants. When they realised their delusion, they discovered that the time had advanced significantly and that the remaining time until the end of the program was simply not enough. Thus, their ambitions remained unfulfilled.

The projects included and financed by the European Community Program 2014-2020 required a standard fulfillment of conditions, but in many of them the content of the actions necessary to be undertaken was precarious and uncertain. Dealing with the problems that arose was at best time-consuming and poorly-coordinated, resulting in additional delays. The Technical Assistance foreseen by the legislation of the European Union, and generously financed by the departments responsible for monitoring the implementation of each project, in practice made little contribution.


In the grid of phases from financing to awarding a contract, although the timeframe had been limited by recent legislation, the increased rights of the tenderers to submit objections prolonged the finalisation of the procedures until the signing of the contracts with the successful bidders.

The main problems, however, concerned the implementation phase of the projects, whether they were technical or societal. The limited possibilities for the timely development of the planned phases, due to the limited human and technical resources of many of the project contractors, resulted in new delays as well as shortcomings in the practical implementation of the contractual obligations of the successful bidders.

In practice, the ability to exercise effective supervision during the execution of the projects was also limited, as was the ability to prevent any deviations from the provisions of the contract articles and timely undo any failures. The relaxed legislation regarding the treatment of any bad workmanship, or, more generally, deviations from the contractual obligations, led to a looser implementation of the content of the contracts, which ultimately resulted in a loose approach to the intended goals for the execution of the projects. In particular, the amortisation of contractual obligations for good performance, and the automatic final acceptance of projects as well performed in a short time, increased the slack during the execution phases.

Finally, the web of deviations from rationality is sealed by the “anguish” of the political heads of the departments or services responsible for promoting Community Programs to show absorption of the relevant credits allocated by the European Union. The absorption of the funds is an apparent reinforcement of these agencies’ political profile, as being active in promoting projects to be implemented. But this is not what society and citizens want. The question is the essential efficiency of the projects, what people call “making the money work”. We believe that this can be achieved if the conditions are created for addressing the problems mentioned above, both at the legislative level and at the level of planning and execution of the projects, by the competent agencies and services. It is a pity that the huge funding from the many European Community Support Frameworks that have been implemented in the country from 1980 until today have produced much smaller results than expected. Improving the efficiency of Εuropean Community funding will also bring about improvements at the qualitative level, since it will significantly limit the corruption and illegal practices that appear prominently in the financial indicators of international rating agencies.

In our region, Mani, the aforementioned pathogens, during the implementation of the few European Community Programs allocated to the region, have a magnified form. The main reason for this is that our region is far away from the control and supervision centers, but also has limited local supervision possibilities. These causes and the limited capacity to draw up public investment proposals in full are responsible for the strong lag of public investment compared with that promoted by the private sector. Let us hope that the local human resources will collaborate and focus their efforts on reversing these negatives in the near future.

THE EDITORIAL BOARD

MAIN REASONS LEADING TO DECREASED PERFORMANCE IN THE PUBLIC SECTOR

As equal citizens of our state, it goes without saying that the mandate we give to our representatives, elected by universal suffrage, is a mandate to maximise the effectiveness of their political administration. This authority is granted on the condition of broad agreement on the objectives pursued and of minimising the required costs. All this is described extensively and in detail for each area of political activity in the current Constitution. However, these are theoretical obligations that vary considerably in their implementation, mainly due to interference from the human factor, which dilutes the general objectives in favour of individuals or groups that have greater interference in the electoral process. Ultimately, many of these variations from the general goals come to the attention of the electorate, which ultimately elects those most consistent in promoting the common goals and with the lowest management costs. We will describe some of these deviations in more detail below.

Expensive party mechanisms, with their overstaffing and substantial administrative and promotional costs, absorb a significant portion of government spending. Of course, the direct funding of parties from the state was introduced in order to counteract their indirect funding by groups of powerful economic factors who were seeking to promote their own interests by integrating their goals into the general objectives promoted by the government of the day. The extent to which this has been achieved is always a matter to be proven and can only be determined after a detailed examination by citizens of the relevant legislation and its implementation in practice, which is no easy task.

Guilds, in the broad sense of the term, have a strong influence on government decisions, particularly in critical areas linked to everyday life and smooth social living. The privatisation of a large part of the state monopolies has reduced the influence of guilds through mobilisations for strike action, since their interests can no longer be promoted through the state budget and to a certain extent are in conflict with the interests of the new owners of these enterprises. However, the union influences, which ultimately lead to increased costs in the course of the implementation of common goals by governments, have taken another form. They are promoted, to a considerable extent, through informal arrangements between like-minded public and private sector professionals involved in the implementation of policy decisions. It is noteworthy that the present government has chosen ministers in many critical ministries from different professions and backgrounds from the main cadre of the sector. This generally mitigates guild-like choices in the management of state finances, but only at the level of central planning and legislation. A long-term and conscious effort is required to achieve positive management results, generalised down to the last state level, through the elimination of this kind of guild logic.

In particular, the public works sector is one of the most critical areas for the development of the above-mentioned logics, due to the high level of funding for public investment and its complex ramifications. A significant attempt to address side effects in this sector was made in the late 1990s, when major roads were designed and put out to tender. At that time, the political leadership (Souflias, Xanthopoulos) attempted to limit the large number of contracting companies by setting high financial and technological requirements in order for the bidding companies to be recognised and to be able to participate in tenders for large-budget project auctions. Reactions at many levels and from many directions have relativised the initial intentions. However, something important was achieved at the time: the implementation of major projects was linked to their long-term maintenance. Combined with bank financing for the construction companies, the good and safe execution of the projects was ensured through the possibility of control by the technical services of the banks, which were a third party between the contractors and the state, since banking interests forced a squeeze on the cost of long-term maintenance of the projects. From the above we can conclude that the way to eliminate the union influences in the public works sector is through the establishment and implementation of a legislative framework with competitive characteristics that can be applied in practice.

The catalyst for all of the above is the human factor and, in particular, the formation of the personality of citizens through the education system. The frequent lessons on the ancient Greeks should not be only of a verbal and pendantic nature, but they should also be focusing on the model of citizenship that our ancestors attempted to shape. The aim of education in ancient Athens was the formation of the ‘good citizen’. This ideal citizen gathered all the characteristics of Virtue, which according to Plato were wisdom, bravery, prudence, justice and piety, but also many other mental and physical virtues. The formation of the good citizen is also the only way to combat the rationales that lead to guild-like partnerships with weaken public finances.

In our region, Mani, these rationales have a small economic footprint, but because of the sparse population of the area they are very easy to see. Since the beginning of publication of our newspaper MANIOT SOLIDARITY we have been trying to discretely identify them and to contribute towards a solution…

                                                                                                ΤΗΕ ΕDITORIAL BOARD

GENOME ΤΕSTING AS AN ELEMENT OF DETERMINING THE MANIOT

The mapping of the human genome that has been completed in recent decades has fostered many subsequent research projects, including comparisons of individual genomes with others or with genomic patterns of tribes from modern or earlier times derived from examination of human cells. These exciting advancements in the science of biology have the potential to help shape more elements of our self-awareness. Since our genetic origins determine the majority of our actions over the course of our life, knowledge of our individual genome can provide explanations for most of our characteristics, from our physical makeup to our mental impulses. A necessary condition for reliable diagnoses, however, is the comparison of the individual gene profile with confirmed racial archetypes. The results of these comparisons, those obtained after assured scientific validation of all phases of the research and comparison process, can help explain many of the inner impulses in our adult life.

The most difficult phase in the evolution of the process described above is the selection of the standards against which each individual genome is compared. In our region, Mani, whose population composition has been little modified during the four centuries of Ottoman rule and to a small extent during the first century and a half of the modern Greek state, it is possible to draw largely safe conclusions about our individual genetic constitution after comparison with genomes of our ancestors from those centuries, as derived from scientific research of the remains of bodily material and used as standards for comparisons. In this way, it will be possible to identify the Maniot idiosyncracy which, in the current period, some people consider honourable and others renounce, despite the existence of clear evidence of their Maniot origin.

If we also wish to know whether and to what extent our genome is linked to the important migrations and settlements in Mani during the ten centuries (5th-15th) or how it is linked to the relocations of groups by the Crusaders of Western Europe in the 13th century, we can proceed by comparing our genome with the gene patterns of these tribes.

The self-awareness that emerges from these findings can provide a further impetus for joint action in the name of recently verified common biological origins. This self-knowledge will strengthen the common way of thinking of a large part of our compatriots which was formed as a result of the struggles of our ancestors for the preservation of the freedom and autonomy of the region during the many centuries of Ottoman rule.

It was mentioned earlier that there is also a significant portion of individuals who, although their personal data proves their Maniot ancestry, they deny it for various reasons. These deniers are the descendants of two different groups of Maniots who left our area for two reasons:

a) after the 1821 revolution, Ottomans got expelled and some Maniot warriors settled permanently the areas that they used to occupy. In these areas they earned income from estates that were much more prosperous than those they previously had in Mani. However, since the legalisation of their relocation was difficult and arbitrary, they had good reasons for concealing their origin. This tendency was passed on to the generations that followed until today.

b) after deadly family conflicts, in order to avoid reprisals, some Maniots left their ancestral homes and moved to areas, either remote rural or populous urban areas, where it was difficult to track them down. Strong evidence of the Maniot origin of the first group is the preservation in many cases of the surnames ending in -έας and -άκος (established mainly during the years of the revolutionary period 1821-1827) and of the second group the preservation of the surname “Mανιάτης” established after relocation to their new residences. However, as many decades have passed since their relocation, the original causes of ancestry concealment no longer exist, and the recognition of their ancestry could contribute to the strengthening of the population potential of Maniot origin, helping to promote the development goals of our region, which is also their ancestral land.

The above-mentioned procedures for checking individual genomes could lead to the verification of origin, but also to the interpretation of many of the specific characteristics of non-identified origin. Comparing the similarities of individual traits with important Maniot characteristics that have been generally recognised on the basis of historical patterns, such as the appeal to free action and individual autonomy, might also lead to the formation of Maniot consciousness.

MODERN MANI AS A HOST FOR NEW RESIDENTS

In recent years, significant property οwnership changes  have taken place in many areas of Mani. The increase in the number of visitors to the area, particularly Europeans, has led to a general recognition of its special geographical and climatic characteristics. These visitors have a greater economic potential, and when they get acquainted with the area, some of them end up purchasing land for residential, and also often for business purposes. They usually purchase old houses with the particular architectural characteristics of our region or plots of land with a view of the open sea and the Taygetus mountain range. The construction of new houses and hotel developments increase year by year. Irrefutable proof of these trends is the great increase in the number of informal brokers who act as links between the demand for purchase and the availability of buildings and plots for sale…

This trend is leading to the strengthening of the finances of many of our fellow countrymen who own land. This support is important since many of the houses sold are not inhabited because the owners have moved to urban or semi-urban centres; also the land that is in greater demand due to the views it offers is in most cases barren and uncultivated. This strengthening of the financial resources of many of our compatriots enables them to meet many of their family needs that have been left unattended for a long time, to promote investment in the region or elsewhere, to finance their children’s studies or career choices and to provide them with all kinds of other options.

It is certain that, as changes of property ownership increase, the demographics of Mani are diversifying to a considerable extent. The new residents, who have settled in Mani seasonally or permanently, bring to the area elements of their own culture and habits. It is not a bad thing for locals to take on many of these elements, especially those coming from people of a higher level of culture. On the other hand, these new residents also adopt elements from our own culture, i.e., those characteristics that have long distinguished the Maniots. The transmission of the Greek language and the transfer of elements from the Maniot cultural background are of utmost importance. A coordinated and well-organised promotion of these elements and the formation of channels for their transfer by our local representatives, through well-planned programs promoted in individual regions, could contribute to a balanced exchange of cultural characteristics.

A few decades ago, the resale of Maniot land to outsiders was considered a mortal sin and a cause of public disapproval. Soon, however, the influx of money softened the opposition, and the new changes in demographics proceeded in a peaceful manner. In fact, history has witnessed many situations, in many eras, which led to the diversification of local human resources. This diversification resulted mainly in the preservation of the basic characteristics of Mani and the integration, over a few generations, of the new inhabitants into the local way of life. I will give examples of some of these phases that enriched the first Doric settlements with new human resources, as they have been recorded in history:

(a) the Roman rule left remnants of language and customs, as evidenced by the stone remains of statues and monuments

(b) the Byzantine period that followed was accompanied by significant movements of military and administrative personnel from Asia Minor, who brought their own customs to the area

(c) the numerous settlements of Slavic tribes in the mountainous area of the Taygetus initially, which over the centuries have moved over almost the entire geographical area, have left a strong genetic imprint, as can be seen from relevant biological research

(d) the peaceful settlement of Albanian tribes in the 15th century, which in turn were linguistically assimilated within a short period of time, contributed significantly, among other things, to the formation of the strong fighting ability of the inhabitants of our region and

(e) the effects on the language and habits of the local people have also been influenced by their contact with the conquerors of the Peloponnese at various times: the Franks in the 13th century, the Ottomans for about four centuries and the Venetians for thirty years in between.

The conclusions drawn from the brief analysis above are clear. Modern Mani needs to further strengthen the strong cultural and biological backgrounds of its population in order to integrate harmoniously the new inhabitants, who in turn can contribute to the upgrading of the area’s human resources. This, however, requires integrated long-term planning and people with the ability to implement it…

                                                                                                ΤΗΕ ΕDITORIAL BOARD

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