Although the Akamas local plan has still not been finalised, the villagers of Ineia have been protesting because they claim, it would not allow them to develop their land. Last Sunday they blocked the road to Lara beach to protest against the unfair treatment, while this Sunday, the Ineia community leader Yiangos Tsivikos said he would go to Lara beach and dig up the turtle nests, many of which he claimed were fake.
Conservationists estimate there were about 2,000 turtle nests in 2021, but Tsivikos insisted that “this is all lies,” and intended to prove it on Sunday. Ineia landowners were “ready for war,” he said because the Akamas plan left them with no options for their land. Agriculture minister Costas Kadis admitted on Wednesday that Ineia landowners were the most affected by the Akamas plan, which covers 181 square kilometres of coastal area and 45km of shoreline.
In a way, the protests of the Ineia villagers are understandable, because they believe they could pressure the government to make changes to the plan that would suit their interests. It would not be the first time the government had been forced into changing plans in order to keep a protest group or community quiet. This has always been the problem with regard to the Akamas. For decades now, governments have been chopping and changing plans for the preservation of the area to keep local residents and big developers happy.
No government or political party, with the exception of the Greens, has taken a firm stand on the protection of Akamas, the common political practice being the pandering to locals complaining that they were being prevented to from exploiting their land, in stark contrast to people in all other parts of the island. Essentially, they were being denied the right to cover their part of island with concrete, a right fully respected in Paralimni, Ayia Napa, Larnaca and Paphos – hence the claims of unfairness and injustice.
The rampant development in the rest of the island has set a terrible example, making it very difficult for the current government to take a hard line, as it should on the Akamas. Kadis has said those who would not be allowed to develop their land would be compensated, although for now this just a vague promise. And we doubt the level of monetary compensation would satisfy the affected communities.
Things can only get worse for the government once it releases the final plan for the Akamas, because hard as it may have tried to keep a maximum number of communities happy there will also be those that will feel wronged. The threat to dig up the turtle nests, was a warning of what could be expected from them.