The Mayor of Igoumenitsa, a port-city of 25,000 situated on the northwestern coast of Greece, explains why the city recently joined Efus.
Why did you decide to join the European Forum for Urban Security?
Ioannis Lolos: Efus works on all major issues related to urban safety and security and gives us the opportunity to build up links among European local authorities by exchanging
practices and information. Being part of a network of more than 250 European local authorities, international partners and experts helps us in the implementation and supervision of European cooperation projects and work groups that support local policies for urban security. Our participation gives us access to all of Efus’ resources such as publications and practice sheets, as well as to the Efus Network online platform.
What is for you the added value of working with other local authorities?
Networking is key to our growth and development. It is great for sharing ideas and knowledge. It is also likely that within a group there will be colleagues who have already been where you are today: exchanging practices with them will help us deal with our problems. This partnership provides an opportunity to learn and avoid some of the common pitfalls experienced by other local authorities.
What are the main security issues in your city?
As we are situated on the northwestern coast, we are a tourist destination, hence the security of tourists is a major concern for our development strategy. Another important issue is the safety of our elderly population, and how we can promote their active integration into society as well as cooperation among generations, in particular with young people.
We are also concerned about the refugee crisis and illegal immigration: Igoumenitsa is a destination for illegal immigrants, especially from Africa.
Among other key issues for us are tackling drugs, the presence of large gypsy communities, and bullying at school. Unfortunately, violence does not stop at the school entrance so for effective prevention, we need to reinforce cooperation between the town council and all stakeholders at school (teachers, students, parents, school administration) as well as the police.
What concerns would you like to be voiced by Efus to European institutions?
There are four major issues we’d like to put forward to European institutions via Efus: the security of senior citizens; youth unemployment and violence; bullying at school, and the urgent question of the refugees and illegal immigrants.