«The elevation of the history, the civilization, the tradition, the diet, the natural environment as well as the local people of Crete, must be the main aim of Cretan Organizations» stressed in his speech the chairman of the International Council of Cretans (ICG) Mr. Georgios Aerakis for the 35th year anniversary of the Pan-Cretan Association of Europe (PAΕ).
This elevation of the comparative benefits of Crete -he continued- can ensure so that the island can further develop in the future as a tourists’ destination and beyond that. He also said that ‘‘it is necessary to focus our efforts to emerging markets such as that of China (important contracts have already been signed regarding olive oil exports in China) and India, countries that have been lately in the first place of developments in Southeast Asia, as well as countries from Latin America such as mainly Brazil and then Argentina and Uruguay which maintain long-term relationships with Greece.
For the elevation of those comparative benefits, I believe that we have to work on a mid-term yet flexible plan. A scheme that will bring the Cretan Associations all over the globe closer,also with the Greek Government and the Local Authorities of Crete. The way to achieve that is not only one and surely there are alternative options with indefinite possibilities today. However, it is undoubted that such an effort requires above all the organization of displays in international metropolises such as New York, Melbourne, Toronto as well as emerging centres such as Moscow, Warsaw, Buenos Ayers and Beijing.
These displays have to have a multi-level character. They have to be accompanied by the projection of visual-auditory material concerning Crete, by printed material (maybe with the creation of a complete, however brief brochure of Crete), by conferences with the participation of eminent academics, politicians and authorities regarding the history of our island through centuries. At the same time, there should be reference to the various and different choices that Crete offers as a tourists’ destination, starting from the multiversity of the natural environment and resulting in the value of Cretan Diet and other alternative suggestions that verify our island to any other destination».
A second axis -he underlined- which is of grave importance is the participation Cretan Associations to acknowledged Fairs of Tourism among others which are mainly organized in Europe and in other continents as well. Co-operating with Local Authorities and the Ministry of Tourism we can participate either through our physical presence or through brochures in Fairs regarding Tourism and therefore reinforce efforts to attract more tourists. Parallel to that, I firmly believe that it is crucial to organize displays once every six months at the places where there are Cretan Associations aiming at making Crete famous globally. These displays can be thematically-oriented, for instance an evening of dining and wining with Cretan products, a musical evening, a literature evening or an evening of culture.
Also, -he continued- many Academic Institutions where dozens of Cretan students or students of Cretan origins study, are called to play an important role. As it is widely-known in most of those Universities there are Greek Associations and in the largest ones there are also Cretan Associations. At the same time, a great deal of academics of Cretan origins teaches in those Institutions. More particularly, in the U.S.A. and many European countries namely the United Kingdom, France and Germany, the Cretan element not only among students but also among the academic stuff is particularly significant. As a consequence, through co-operation we can organize meetings presenting the wealth of our culture and tradition and the role that Crete has historically played in the past as well as the one that it will play in the future.
A recent very useful tool -he referred- is internet itself. Cretan Associations are called at this point to use new technologies in such a way that every citizen who has access to the internet be given the opportunity to get informed about Crete in real time. It could also be useful to attempt a co-operation with all Cretan Associations and create a website which will offer an alternative, yet modern prospect on Crete and its thousands guests that are interested in it. Undoubtedly, for such a project to become possible there should be assistance, mainly financial on behalf of the Government and the Local Authorities that will help in the provision of the necessary informative material.
Beyond the undoubtedly important contribution that the Cretan Associations can play -he continued- in order to project the comparative benefits of Crete, an issue that has to be mentioned is that of the prospects the Cretan Associations have in the 21st century. It is actually a process of redevelopment and resetting polices, which our Associations will follow, focusing not only on inner reorganization but also on the revealing of this process. We should move, therefore, on these two axes either in the immediate or the remote future.
Referring to the first axis, it has to be noted that Cretan Associations face serious issues that they have to cope. Issues which are expected to signify their future and I dare say their future existence. This occurs because they function in a new puzzling world, where the Community of the Citizens seeks answers to the pressing problems they face. For this reason, one can lately observe that there is a drastic increase in the Non- Governmental Organizations (NGΟ), which aim at attracting not only citizens with common interests but also putting forward claims concerning the form, the organization, the function and the target of their foundation. This process has to act as a guideline for the Cretan Associations, as well. We have to answer convincingly the questions we receive every day.
Do we wish Cretan Associations to remain meeting and dialogue points among the Cretans abroad or do we wish to change their roles so as to function as structures orientated for the claim of unfulfilled demands for years?
Do we wish Cretan Associations to proceed functioning isolated from the rest of the Greek Associations or do we wish to co-operate for the benefit of the reinforcement of our claiming demands, and not simply the exchange of attitudes and opinions? Do we wish Cretan Associations to continue to proceed obstructed by the disputes of the past that keep them apart or do we wish to commence a brave and fertile inner dialogue process so as all Associations collaborate?
This is the point, then, that we come to the second axis of redevelopment process. The second axis is the one that is more interesting. On the one hand, we have the opportunity to announce the realization of the inner changes to the Society. On the other hand, this process of expression will lead us to progress.
We have to establish offices of our organizations in some of the biggest cities of the world on a permanent basis aiming not only at the activation of local communities but at the promotion of the comparative benefits that Crete offers, as well. These cities can be chosen on the grounds of the Cretan element they host along with their general relationships with Crete. A second thought may include a permanent office in Athens so as to promote our affairs.
The displays that are directly scheduled from the International Council of Cretans (ICG) are:
– The co-organization of an International Conference on the topic of ‘‘The editions of Nikos Kazanzakis in Greece and abroad’’ held on 27th and 28th, June in Crete.
– The co-organization with the same central introducer in the second Conference of the Rethymnians abroad, held in the city of Rethymnon on the 7th, 8th and 9th August initiative by Rethymnon Prefecture.
– Co-operation and support of the PSK in the ceremony for the 80 years of the Pan-Cretan Federation in America, held on board around Crete, visiting Alexandria between 17th and 24th July.
– Annual Convention of the PSK on the 1st August having as the central topic the change of the memorandum of association aiming at reinforcing the functionalism and the efficiency of the Institution.
– The signing up of the contract with the University of Crete regarding the creation of a Center of Studies for the Cretans abroad.
– Preparation for the Conference of PSK, held in the summer of 2010, in Lasithi.
– Commitment of the regional counselor of Crete Mr. Tsokas that the members of the council of the International Council of Cretans (ICG) will participate in the Regional Council and also will be able to set issues for election.
Source of publication 6th issue In-On