On the island of Amorgos, in Greece, far from Athens and Brussels, residents feel abandoned to their fate

On the peaceful port of Aigiali, on the Cycladic island of Amorgos, the wind carries everything in its path. The tourists have not yet disembarked, and only two cafes are open. In winter, it takes more than nine hours to travel to Athens. In summer, ferries only take seven hours. Ioannis Gavalas has an explanation: “Companies want to save money in winter, because few people get off at Amorgos, it is not a profitable line. In summer, it’s different, thousands of tourists arrive. This gives the impression that we, islanders, are given little consideration! »

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The thirty-year-old, who works in construction out of season and in tourism from June, has little interest in the European elections. He feels that in Amorgos, less than 2,000 inhabitants, it is “very far from the decision-making centers” from Athens or Brussels. “Between an isolated place like ours, where there are few public services, and a large city on the continent, the gap is enormous! We sometimes have the impression of being second-class citizens, who are not entitled to the same social benefits as others”he confides, bitterly.

In front of the Amorgos dispensary, April 4, 2024. There is no hospital on the island and urgent cases are transported by helicopter to Athens.

In love with his rocky and wild island, he wanted to stay and see his family grow up on his land. Katerina, his wife, is a teacher in the village of Lagada, which has only forty-five children. On maternity leave since the birth of their twins, this Athenian first fell under the spell of the tranquility of Amorgos, as well as the beauty of its landscapes. But since becoming a mother, she cannot calm her anxieties linked to the lack of doctors. “There is no pediatrician here. The public clinic, normally designed to accommodate eight doctors with different specialties, only has one cardiologist. If there’s a medical emergency, we have to go to Athens, and it’s a nine-hour driveshe worries. Theoretically, there is also a helicopter to transport patients to Athenian hospitals, but there is only one for the entire Cyclades, and it is quickly overwhelmed. »

“Buying fresh fruit or a heater is not possible”

While her two sons run after stray cats and dogs, the woman says she does not know if she will stay long. “We are seen as taking part in the flagship industry of the Greek economy, tourism, but nothing is being done to improve the lives of residents. The government is not interested in us, so why should Europe? »

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