Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Neighbor fight

While in Athens peace still is not entirely restored and the government only reformed into a new coat, an old problem did resurrect: violation by Turkish jets of the Greek airspace and the fight over the territorial waters. According to Greece the Greek territorial waters are 12 kilometers into the sea, the Turkish only agree with 6 kilometers. So when Turkish jets fly over the non-acknowledged 6 miles, for Greece that is a violation of its airspace.

The incident last week started when a Greek plane helped on sea with a rescue of refugees, close to Samos and close to the Turkish border. Then Turkish jets came and harassed the rescue action. The next day Turkish and Greek jet planes went into dogfights, amongst others above Lesvos. Since that day relations between the countries have worsened.

The inhabitants of Lesvos however more and more try to forget the old feuds between Turkey and Greece and start visiting Turkey, the country where parents or grandparents from many Lesvorians come from. Some even still have a house at the other side and they venture out as far as Istanbul.

Turkey is a Walhalla for Greek shoppers because except for the fuel everything is far cheaper than on Lesvos. The business between both coasts therefore slowly grows.

Even protest groups are gathering together. Like last week there was a meeting between Greek and Turkish people to protest at the building of a new electricity plant in Aliagi, under the smoke of Izmir, just 50 kilometers away from Mytilini (from East Lesvos you can see its chimney). Between the already existing polluting petrol chemical industry the plant will be working on coal, what will bring more air, water and ground pollution. And they even do not intend using the good quality of Turkish coal, but want to import a more inexpensive but less qualitative coal from South Africa.

It is estimated that the plant will yearly need 2,8 million of tons of coal, the ash will be spread around in the region. They as well will need a daily 50.000 liter seawater to cool the engines, what means that that same amount, only hot water this time (35oC), will flow back into sea. I have nothing against a nice hot sea, but I can imagine that everything that lives in the sea will not like a warmed up sea. So for sure, this pollution in Turkey as well will bother Lesvos.

Another more invisible fight is about the goldmines in Turkey. First of all Lesvos has many (or maybe all) sources thanks to the mountains of Ida (the Kaz Dagi, named as well ‘The Magic Mountains’, that you see from the North of Lesvos: those high mountains towering in the background above all other mountains). Just imagine a pair of communicating barrels: one end in the Ida mountains, the other end in the mountains of Lesvos. Lesvos not only has that many sources, but as well its rivers thanks to Turkey, because underground water flows to the island. It is good that this is just nature and not a pipeline, otherwise, just like Russia, Turkey could shut off the water when having a fight with the Greeks.

The Canadian Global company got licenced to dig up gold at the bottom of the mountains of Kaz Dagi. Times are over when masses of people looking for gold came to spend years in little rivers to find the gold, like happened in America. To win gold these days you need cyanide: “In the so-called cyanide progress, finely ground high-grade ore is mixed with the cyanide; low-grade ores are stacked into heaps and sprayed with cyanide solution. The precious-metal cations are complexed by the cyanide anions to form soluble derivatives. The ‘pregnant liquor’ containing these ions is separated from the solids, which are discarded to a tailing pond or spent heap, the recoverable gold having been removed. The metal is recovered from the ‘pregnant solution’ by reduction with zinc dust or by absorption onto activated carbon” (from Wikipedia). So for sure this cyanide will enter the ground water and off course some of it will emerge in the waters of Lesvos.

Lesvos is proud of its undisturbed nature, but you see that this island as well can get a source of an international fight. The Greek government however has more important things that matter than these ‘trivial’ environment pollutions as long as this eternal fight about airspace violations and territorial borders will not be solved. As long as this fight will not grow bigger, the inhabitants of Lesvos do not bother and can better help the Turkish to fight against polluting industries for a clean Turkish as well as a clean Greek environment.

Copyright © Smitaki 2009

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