"My comments were misinterpreted," says Yiannis Seremetis
CORFU. The Deputy Mayor for Cleansing says that he never said that volunteerism was "ridiculous and a big joke" in response to the reactions to his comment.
Central Corfu Municipality press office issued the following statement:
"Following the recent misinterpretation of my comments, I feel obliged to make some clarifications to correct the distorted impression regarding my position and intentions.
I never said that volunteerism was "ridiculous and a big joke". On the contrary, I said that I appreciate and respect the volunteers who, without any kind of reward and with a sincere desire to help, take part in many community activities. I also said that volunteers throughout the island "stepped forward" and, as much as they could, took matters into their own hands when Corfu was swamped with rubbish.
What I pointed out was that this cannot be the rule. What I stated and repeat today is that the responsibilities of the local authority, whether it be cleaning, the environment or anything else, must be carried out by the local authority.
Voluntary work cannot and must not take the place of the local authority in resolving the problem of waste management, organising recycling and providing proper, modern services to the public. These services are paid for by the public. Voluntary work cannot be a substitute for the operations of the state. We cannot load our responsibilities onto volunteers. They can, of course, contribute whenever and wherever needed.
The people of Corfu entrusted us with solving the problems and all our efforts are focussed on this. We will succeed despite any efforts to obstruct us. Understanding our responsibility, we are shouldering these responsibilities, planning and implementing these plans and over time, the Corfu public will be the ones who judge whether we have been successful or not.
In short, what I said was that any authority - whether it be local or state - pushing its responsibilities off onto volunteers is "ridiculous and a big joke".
What I have said above in no way means to demean the work of volunteers - quite the opposite, in fact. I regard any other interpretation of my comments as being politically motivated and is not of service to the community."