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Culture will only benefit if the government stops funding it

14 January 2011 / 15:01:15  GRReporter
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Apostolos Gletsos, 43-year-old popular actor, a former sex symbol and known to Greek audiences for his explosive nature and public outbursts of wrath, the mayor, who was arrested two days ago for removing the railings on one of the Greek highways. The charming actor became famous for his role of a rich engineer in love with a Roma woman in the series Heart Whisper. He was declared the most sensual man of his generation but abandoned theatre and television in order to devote himself to his hometown Stilida.

Apostolos Gletsos talks about his arrest, the financial crisis and the development of culture under these difficult economic conditions in an interview for GRReporter.

Mr. Gletsos, why were you arrested?

We opened a side municipal road to enable the farmers move along it as they go to their gardens to pick olives every day at that time. People here are poor. This year wasn’t good for plantations. The cost of production of their products is 1 euro per kilogram and they sold them for 0.50 euros. Every day they had to pay over 20 euros for tolls to be able to go to their gardens.

The constitution regulates the free movement of people on the roads. Concession contracts provided for the construction of side roads or the supply of cards for free passing through the booths on the highway. None of these was done. We were informed on Monday night that people’s cards would not be valid from Tuesday onwards. So, we went and opened the roads  with bulldozers. I was arrested with charges for damaging the property of other people.  

What is the situation now?

The cards of the residents of the municipality are valid again. The Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport assured us that the side road will soon be built.

I heard you say that it is not necessary a new road to be built as there is an old road.

This is true, but we found out that the European funds for its construction have been approved. Therefore, the road will be built.

What is your opinion about the people’s response to the economic measures taken by the government?

I think one of the necessary conditions to allow the Greeks to agree with and support the stringent economic measures is bringing to justice thousands of politicians, businessmen and officials who have not done their work conscientiously and have grown rich on the back of the others. If these people who are probably 15-20 thousand in number are not convicted and their property is not seized by the state I, personally, will not support any measure.

Do you think that Greek society is ready to change?

Yes, it is ready. Anyway, we reached the bottom. We can not go further down.

How will we emerge from the crisis?

If we coordinate, if we forget about our personal ego and turn it to “we”, if we start working a little more, if we forget about the "national" sport "duty evasion" and if we all start doing our work conscientiously, we can emerge from the crisis. You know that when we all work, we all rest more, respectively. Because if 1-2 people are not working, they are breaking the chain and the whole system.

However, coordination is the most important. If we achieve it, we will achieve everything.

How do you see the development of culture in a period of crisis?

I think its quality will improve if the taps of its funding break for some time. The result would be shocking in a positive sense. This is what history has shown us so far.

How could theatres, for example, find funding?

Let the good theatres be self-financing through tickets sale.

You were a successful actor. Why did you decide to involve in politics?

It is because I like to close pages and turn new ones in my life. I like very much what I do now. I liked theatre a lot too, of course. It is not inconceivable to ever make a comeback. You don’t have to be 20-30 years old to be an actor. You can still do what you like at the age of 60 and 70.

What have you plan to do in the municipality you run at first?  

We have planned many different things. We will work for development through creating new jobs and better everyday life for the people. We strive to make a better quality of life for the people in Stilida.

Tags: PoliticsPersonsTheatreApostolis GletsosCultureEconomic crisisFunding
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