On the occasion of the completion of one year of the “SYRA, YOUR TURN” group, its creator Haris Vekrisgave an exclusive interview to CYCLADES24 and to George Solarispresenting the course of his initiative so far, but also the developments in the race to claim the Municipality of Syros – Ermoupolis.
- Your group “SYRA, YOUR TURN” turns one year old in facebook and you recently announced your intention to claim, as the head of the group, the leadership of the Municipality of Syros – Ermoupoli. Give us a brief account of the progress of this initiative so far.
The group “SYRA, YOUR TURN” was created a year ago in facebook to gather the most active and creative forces of the island, which will be able to bring – finally – results. This initiative of ours, which evolved into a Combination which will claim the reins of the Municipality of Syros – Ermoupolis in the next Municipal elections, represents the intention of a group of active citizens of the island to contribute in every way, to enable our island to run with greater speeds. As a combination we might be something unique in all of Greece, since we have a team and a page at facebookactive blog and a website under construction, a radio show that will soon start its 2nd cycle, channel at youtubewall comic and we have already presented the first proposals of our Program for the five years 2024 – 2028. All of this, of course, as you understand, requires a lot of time and seriousness, two parameters necessary for anyone who wants to manage a Municipality.
- Although the municipal elections are in October next year, you and your team already have an intense activity of meetings with institutions and agencies. What are your conclusions so far?
Contrary to what most people may think, the main problem of our Municipality is not financial. That which we identify as the the most serious drawback in its operation is the management of its human resources. For many years, the working conditions of the employees of the Municipality have been far from what is called “a working environment in which someone deserves to work”. Thus, there are not a few who are forced either to request their transfer to other Public Services, or to remain in their positions, without unfortunately performing what they could. That is why the next Mayor must make solving it one of his main priorities, of course being the first to set a good example.
- What characteristics do you think the next Mayor should have? Usually Syrians vote for the “good boy”. Is that enough?
Look. We are all “good guys”, since as people say “the bad guys are in jail”. Of course, this is partly true, because if e.g. you declare 1/3 of the square footage of your property in order not to pay the municipal fees that belong to you, then you are probably not a very “good boy”. You realize, then, that such a case of a “good child” would be suicide for the island, in case he took over the management of the Municipality. Beyond that, I believe that the next Mayor must have theoretical, but also practical administrative experience, a very good knowledge of public sector operations, an open mind and the courage to “break eggs” by making difficult decisions, ignoring the biggest inhibiting factor of the developments, which is none other than the “political cost”.
- As for the people who will surround you, what characteristics should they possess? Will it be only new faces or members of the current Municipal Council?
Experience and prior service in positions of responsibility in the Municipality are certainly not negligible elements. Of course, this does not mean that someone dealing with Local Government for the first time cannot do better than someone who has been re-elected. I believe that the persons in the Municipal Council should change and its composition should be renewed. There must be space for all those who have an appetite and want to dedicate their time to manage – together with the Municipality staff – to improve everyday life, but also to create the conditions for a better future for our Syra. After all, as I have said before, elected officials do not come to fill vacant managerial positions. Municipalities have organizational charts, executive staff and experienced employees who can function without elected “bosses”. The duties of the elected officials are to support and encourage these people, to draw up the strategy and to set the priorities, always according to the “wants” of the Syrians who elected them.
- What are the first proposals of your Program for the five years 2024 – 2028 and what else can we expect?
Following our basic starting points, as we presented them in our founding declaration on October 3, in Ano Syros, we began to slowly unfold the individual actions of our Program for the five years that we will be called upon to undertake the future of our island. For “A Syra open to all“, in 2024 we are proceeding with the Preparation & Implementation of an Action Plan for obtaining the title “Child Friendly Island” of the “CHILD FRIENDLY CITIES” Program of UNICEF. We want an island that defends the rights of children in road safety, in free green spaces and recreation, but also in access to sports. On the axisDestination Syros» of our Program, we include the Creation of an Office for Attracting & Supporting Photography and Film Producers (Syros Photo & Film Office – SyPFO). With this specific action, we seek the development of partnerships between production companies and local businesses from the hospitality, catering and tourism sectors, the promotion and promotion of our island internationally, but also the extension of the tourist season.
And to reveal to you something from the “coming soon”: the next action we will present in a few days is about establishing Syros as a Christmas Destination. Our goal is to succeed instead of the Syrians leaving to spend Christmas in Athens, let the Athenians come to spend Christmas in Syros! As you will find, it is not such an elusive dream.
- Knowing your previous successful initiatives, such as the “Festival of Turkish Delight” and the claim for the title of European Capital of Culture for Syros, we have no doubt that this proposal of yours will also have prospects. But in closing, tell us where you are in terms of putting together your ballot?
Look, Mr. Solaris, already from our meetings until now, we know that if we are called to take over our Municipality, we have a lot of work to do the five-year period 2024-2028. We must improve the working environment of the people working in the Municipality Services, launch projects that will improve the daily life of the island’s residents and support entrepreneurship, but also manage its finances wisely, in order to keep our commitment to the maintaining municipal fees at current levelsrealizing the already unaffordable cost of living faced by Syrian households.
You realize, then, that all this work cannot be done by a Mayor alone, no matter how good he is, but he needs a group of valuable partners, whom the people will choose through the ballot of our Combination. So the criterion by which I choose the people of our Combination so far, is their ability to assume responsibilities from the day after the elections. To me it makes no sense to “safari” names that “have” personal voters, when it is doubtful whether these people can join and contribute to a common, predetermined effort. Rest assured, Mr. Solaris, that for me no one is going to say “Vekris was not a good Mayor”. But this requires equally good, hardworking and creative partners. People with a social contribution, who have practically shown their love for the island. We want such people to participate in this effort and they are welcome in our Combination.