Friday, June 7, 2013

The island fighting for a new Greece

KASTELORIZO, Greece - When George Papandreou declared Greece was effectively bankrupt in April 2010, the former prime minister chose to do so standing by the sparkling harbor waters of Kastelorizo, a remote Aegean island. It has turned out to be a fitting backdrop.

This speck at the easternmost corner of Europe has become a symbol of Greece's struggle to confront old ills and build a better future. The country's economic crisis has spurred inhabitants of the island, population 350, to challenge the political elite that ruled Kastelorizo for 18 years.

In recent months complaints about widespread graft and poor infrastructure - flaws many observers say led to Greece's general collapse after decades of foreign-fed affluence - have boiled over. The island's mayor, Pavlos Panigyris, has been suspended by Greece's general secretary for the Aegean region, pending trial later this year on criminal charges of corruption brought by a public prosecutor.