The project for the extension of the current airport runway raises questions and discussions, as much among the permanent inhabitants as the semi-permanent or even occasional of Paros and Antiparos; even more, since this project has not been the subject of full information, nor of an open debate and even less of a consultation of the population in the rules required for this type of project.
Τhere is no opposition to the reasonable improvement of the existing buildings and passengers’ reception, quite the contrary. On the other hand, the runway extension, which would make it possible to serve long-haul aircraft, raises many objections and concerns. These refer to the risks of exceeding the already overloaded bearing capacity of the island and the development of large hotel complexes by entrepreneurs from the island or elsewhere, with the apparent threat of marginalizing smaller-scale initiatives, putting thus endangering social cohesion and worsening the already existing problems in terms of mobility, waste management and treatment, water supply, supply of health services, and saturation of the various services offered to tourists.
Current debates can be grouped into three categories:
- The first is positioned in support of this project, seeing only advantages in terms of economic development.
- The second would instead favour the reasonable extension by phase, starting with the terminal, but considers that preliminary works must be carried out before the runway lengthening to respond to the existing problems that can only worsen with the massive arrival of international flights.
- The third indeed considers that the airport facilities need to be improved, but opposes long haul, the arrival of which will only degrade the sustainable character of the development of our two islands, which the most significant number of inhabitants desires. This group is therefore opposed to the lengthening of the track.
Beyond the terms of this debate, developed within the framework of a perfectly legitimate and acceptable confrontation of ideas, sectarian positions, even hateful, have emerged aimed at excessively dividing the population of the island between the indigenous people and semi-permanent residents, or passing visitors, who would only have the right to be silent, without the borders separating these populations being clearly defined, or even corresponding to reality.
Our two associations defend the right to a free debate between all the island inhabitants whether they are permanent, semi-permanent, or occasional, whether they are Greeks from Paros and Antiparos or elsewhere, even the many foreigners intensely concerned with the development of the island. We refuse to be subjected to intimidation measures and warn those who mention them to alert them to the slippages this type of talk could cause. Everyone is responsible for maintaining a climate of tolerance, first and foremost the heads of local authorities, whether in business or opposition.
The presidents of the two associations
Nikos Malatestas (Federation of Parian Associations – OPAS) | Georges Vlandas (Friends of Paros and Antiparos)