We would like to respond to letters and posts in social networks of recent days that characterize as 'unacceptable' the image of equines in the port of Hydra in the sun without shade to explain some aspects of the issue that perhaps are unknown to the authors of the protests.
So let's start with the legal framework:
1. Hydra is not just a protected settlement but under laws in force under the Greek state is a strictly protected archaeological space. Needless to say, the existence of so many and often mutually exclusive laws makes it very difficult to explain and apply the law, as even the most often expert have difficulty grasping it.
2. As a consequence of this, it has been decided that any construction in the public space of the island should be supervised and approved by the Central Archaeological Council (KAS).
3. Hydra in its long history (it has been inhabited for almost 600 years) organized as a society and became great. Relying mostly on unwritten laws, the customary law (for the Hydrai the Bessa) rests on the key assumption that I will NEVER do something that bothers my neighbor, and if I must, then NEVER without his approval. With the changes brought about by tourism development in the last half-century this practice has become obsolete because the priorities have simply changed. Unfortunately, the harmonious cohabitation of men and equines that was also regulated on the basis of this unwritten law, has fallen victim to these changes. So while people and equines are still living on the island, there is no legislation regulating the specifics.
When this municipal authority undertook the management of Hydra’s communities, one of its first steps was to consult with professionals, residents, and government agencies about how we can solve the problems that have arisen.
In the framework of this discussion open to all citizens, we invited the professor of the Veterinary School of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Nikolaos Diakis, to come to the island for the day, and he spent several hours in the meeting room of the City Council briefing and advising professionals, citizens, and municipal councilors on issues related to the coexistence of people and equines.
We will not go here into all the specific issues that have been of concern to us, but because most of them, like most of the letters that the Municipality has received, concern the presence of equines in the harbor during the afternoon and their exposure to the sun without shade, we will mention the following:
Indeed, Mr. Diakakis pointed out that exposure to the sun, especially in the summer months and on hot days, poses a huge hazard to animals’ health. He stressed that between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m., their exposure to the sun without shades and fresh water is devastating.
The Municipality then asked a reputable architect who knows Hydra as a resident and also as a professional, Mr. Andronikos Tsigounis, to study the problem and to make a proposal that takes into account all the parameters. Indeed, Mr. Tsigounis immediately prepared a study proposing the installation of mobile sun shades during the day that can be withdrawn after sunset. The study is available to anyone who wishes to see it.
Since then, sadly, despite our constant and best efforts, we have not been able to move one step further. The tragedy of the story is that there are many who for "aesthetic" reasons do not want this simple and painless solution. Even more strangely, they include the Ecological Organization of the island, which is represented in the City Council and exerts pressure not to apply it, perhaps considering that the ecology concerns only the flora and not the fauna of a place.
The City of Hydra has plainly attempted within the framework of the law to find a solution.
So, if concerned citizens who rightly attempt to apply pressure regarding a subject that, the law aside, has a moral aspect, would start to write, telephone, and complain to those who will make the final decision, namely the CSS and the Ministry of Culture, this will offer great and welcome assistance to the Municipality and, more importantly, to the animals that ultimately must suffer the inconvenience of a cumbersome and ineffective administration.
The cliché of "complaining to the mayor," besides being obsolete, is in the case of Hydra also a little irrelevant, because the Municipality has long done what it can but does not have the authority to make the final decision. All we can do is remind, push, and wait.
Lastly, in defense of the professionals who we believe to be unjustly accused and derided, we can assure you that they are aware of the problem and have often pushed for solutions and answers. Some of them have addressed the mayor and the City Council in writing, asking for them to be nominated as a competent person, so they can practice their profession legally and without bothering anyone.
The fact that they remain in the harbor nevertheless has to do with the daily cruise that arrives and stays on the island during precisely the problematic hours. As many have families to support, in addition to the animals themselves, they are not left with many choices.
Pressures are welcome as they are both useful and legitimate, but it would be best to address them to those with the authority to endorse whatever solution we hope for and hope they will soon yield.
Municipality of Hydra