Every decade or so, a generalised journalistic interest in the natural and cultural environment of Mani returns. The timing is generally associated with rich, environmental projects funded by European resources. Usually, the new study largely duplicates the previous one, yet it is paid for by the new funding! The resulting proposals are based on a free approach to the natural and cultural environment, but with little consideration of the people who live and operate in the area. It goes without saying that the reactions, from almost all the residents and land owners are strong, and these studies only go as far as repaying the costs of their preparation… Having followed the evolution of this issue for over three decades, we suspect that the recent publications are related to the studies financed by the Recovery and Resilience Fund for rezoning the settlements of Greece, prioritising many settlements in Mani. Our newspaper MANIOT SOLIDARITY, in its almost 25 years of publication, has never opposed measures for the qualitative upgrading of the region, as long as this upgrading is not fragmentary and as long as it is accompanied by measures of an integrated nature, with guaranteed funding and a clear timing of implementation. It goes without saying that this view is also valid in the present case. It is therefore appropriate to give a brief presentation of this issue below, which is crucial for the region and has been brought back into the news.
The residential area of Mani, for the greater part of its extent, has been created by the evolution of the first patriarchal family settlements, usually in neighbouring natural outcrops of the natural area. With the passing of different generations, the originally constructed houses turned into small group settlements, usually at short distances from each other. With particular social, political and environmental sensitivity, Antonis Tritsis, Environment Minister in 1982, considered it necessary to create the possibility for residential development of the country’s settlements that were not classified as traditional or coastal settlements. This possibility included many settlements in Mani. However, discrepancies from the lack of implementation or multiple distortions of the original legislation were caused mainly by political expediency for the exploitation of the euphoria of the owners whose properties increased in value. Discrepancies were also caused by the parasitic operation of the network of services offered to the land owners during the procedures leading up to the sale of their land for residential use or for the construction of buildings in the new residential zone bordering the “stagnant” settlements.
From the brief description above, it is obvious that, for the qualitative upgrading of the new residential area of many settlements of Mani, the removal of the deviations or distortions of the original regulations is required. This does not mean abolishing the residential status, because this would violate the constitutional guarantee of property, and it would put land owners who have used it for residential purposes on an unequal footing with those who would exercise this right in the future. But it does mean that the state is obliged to implement public works that it has so far failed to prioritise and finance. One of the best of these technical public works is a form of urban planning of the new residential area, as envisaged by the original 1982 legislation. Another good example is the design and implementation of all necessary infrastructure projects providing for residential densities such as those that have arisen in our area. A form of “cleansing” of the entire matrix of groups of persons involved in the construction system of this residential zone would also be beneficial.
We believe that Maniots, like most citizens who have agricultural roots and an experiential relationship with the natural environment, will stand in solidarity with government decisions that will move towards an integrated quality upgrade, even with their own participation in land and money. However, such decisions must follow the ancient saying of the Oracle of Delphi: he who creates a problem has an obligation to fix it. In other words, the political system, responsible during the 1980s for the distortions of the original legislative regulation of the “stagnant” settlements and the tacit tolerance of all its deviations in order to enjoy the political euphoria of the benefitted citizens during all electoral procedures, has an obligation with its current political expression to make the necessary decisions of restoration which we discussed above. In this way, the political system will be rewarded by the citizens, not only for the qualitative restoration of the residential area, but also for the manifestation of the courage that political ethics requires as a necessary condition for the progress and prosperity of the states and their citizens.
THE EDITORIAL BOARD