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24 May, 2024
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Akamas environmental issues and Minister's decision

Decoding Minister Xenophontos' pause

Eleni Xenou

Eleni Xenou

There have been signs and monsters about the works being done in Akamas and the breaches of the conditions of the Special Ecological Assessment (SEA) but the Minister of Agriculture, Mr. Xenophontos, is still not sure that he should order a disciplinary investigation to be held accountable.

At least this is what he told Morning Timetable when asked if the administrative investigation would be followed by a disciplinary one. "I will decide and come back" was his answer. And although he admitted that there are responsibilities, he chose "to think and come back" instead of immediately answering that they would be investigated immediately.

What exactly Mr Xenophon needs to think further and what exactly is the content of this reflection that will enlighten him to do the obvious, when the facts are already screaming themselves that accountability is urgent, is really worth wondering.

After all, he himself has admitted that what the environmental organisations have denounced in relation to the breaches of the conditions of the ecological study is true. He also took care to clarify that the final construction works were not presented by the competent authority (see Forestry Department) before the ad hoc committee that carried out the study in question, when they should have been.

But he still considers that he needs to "decide and come back" on whether to proceed with a disciplinary investigation. And the way the Minister responded to Mrs Vrettou's pertinent questions created the impression to any thinking citizen who was lucky or unlucky enough to be listening to him that he either does not know what is going on, or he does know but lacks the gumption to rise to the occasion, especially for such an environmentally sensitive area.

Mrs Vrettou asks: "Did the final construction plans come out based on the legally binding terms of the ecological study?" the minister replies, "This needs to be investigated further. Some things changed and that is why the final plans had to be presented to the ad hoc committee."

Ms Vrettou asks: "Were the ones the contractor had in his hands the ones that were required according to the environmental specifications?" Minister's reply: "I can't answer that personally. It has to be answered by someone who has knowledge of civil engineering and will compare what is included in the design and what is included in the construction plans." Ms Vrettou asked: "Why did you do the administrative investigation in the end?".

Minister's reply: "To answer two questions, whether the terms of the EIA were given to the designers and the answer is that they were, and whether the final plans were presented to the ad hoc committee and the answer is that they were not."

And in reaching this point the Minister feels that he has done his duty even though the substance of the whole matter seems to have escaped him. For the crux of the matter is not whether or not the final construction plans reached the committee but why the legally binding environmental conditions of the ecological study were not incorporated into them.

Moreover, he has admitted that the complaints of the environmental organisations are valid. So? What exactly was he waiting for to say unequivocally that he was ordering an immediate disciplinary investigation? What exactly was stopping him? And how conscious is he that this first reaction by the thinking citizen can only be seen as political timidity?

Simply put, what the citizen requires of the political boss of this case, which seems to be coming from everywhere, is that he show determination to find out who is responsible for the breaches of environmental conditions and who is responsible for the failure to control this non-compliance.

And since, as he said, the administrative investigation only records the facts without seeking accountability, what exactly does the minister need to think about in order to proceed with a disciplinary investigation to assign responsibility for the violations that occurred?

[This article was translated from its Greek original]

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