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  Issue 64

   

Alternative way of solving the youth unemployment in SEE

Green jobs are the future of Orestidos municipality
 

Marijana Ivanova

As the red bus was driving our group through the villages in the municipality Orestidos near Kastoria (north-west of Greece), I could not but remind myself of the thought and the words “fields of corn, hills of blood” which stand in the title of Anastasia Karakasidu’s book, which is dedicated to this very region, these fields and mountains we were observing from the bus.

The golden-yellowish space, cut at times with hills behind which one can see the tops of Arenes, Odrija and Gramos and the basins of rivers Alijakmonas and Sarantaporos, looked peaceful and tamed, though I knew they were hiding painful stories connected with the civil war in Greece. 
 

“Green” jobs 

Our group which was moving through these places, had a completely different goal – one directed towards the future and improving the lives of people living in this municipality, as well as broader, in the whole region of south-east Europe. How can the development and the international cooperation in the field of environmental protection be encouraged? – was the name of the project implemented by the Greek association Kalisto. In the beautiful region of Kastoria, the project brought together several civil society associations from Macedonia, Greece and Bulgaria. The Macedonian group, coordinated by the association “Erina” from Skopje, consisted of several young people, not older than 25 years of age. For most of them, this was the first experience of the kind, and the first experience with the focus topic.

Implemented within the European Commission Youth Programme, the project had a specific focus – the unemployment of the young people from the region-how can it be reduced by promoting so-called “green” jobs, or, jobs that are related to the environment, contribute towards its protection or use and promote the natural resources in a sustainable way.

The participants had the opportunity to visit several localities where “green” jobs are practiced. They talked to the mayor of Orestidos municipality about the prospects of employment in the field of environment. The ecological, the cultural, the rural tourism, as well as the various forms of alternative tourism, the production of healthy, organic food, mountaineering and recreational movement through the mountains and the river canyons, the forestry, the collection and processing of forest fruits, etc., are some of the jobs that can be called “Green”, and are practiced in this municipality. The local authorities show understanding and readiness to support those activities and to treat them as one of municipality development branches. 
 

River entertainment, petrified woods, traditional recipes…

At Argos Orestikos and at Kastoria one can find guides that will introduce the natural localities of this region to the tourists and provide expert explanation of the local flora and fauna. Tourists can get in touch with professional mountaineers who will take them up the mountains, along the rivers basins, down the waterfalls and Alpine meadows (here the Alpine meadows reach the most south point). In Kastoria, the town with 80 Byzantine churches, one can hire a boat or join a group on a larger boat that goes round the Kastoria Lake. Besides visiting the churches, one can visit museums and other places of interest, among which is the Environment Educational Centre which provides information on the natural localities in the surrounding. The visit to the Museum and the Petrified Wood in Nostimo was the first destination of our international group. The greatly arranged museum was like a magnet to the tourists coming in the region, and the visit through the woods, where mussel and snail fossils and petrified trees could be seen is very attractive indeed.

Every year, in the beginning of Agust, in the canyon of the river Alijakmon near the village of Nestorio, the traditional River Party takes place. The party attracts a number of visitors who come to see the concerts of famous Greek and foreign bands, as well as other cultural contents like: a puppet theatre, hiking and climbing tours, different sports, etc. The guests are offered different types of accommodation – in cottages, small hotels, and they can even go camping. The great camp fire usually marks the end of the party.

We found the visit to one of the farms where organic food is grown quite interesting. The agricultural products are not treated with chemicals and artificial fertilizers. We had the chance to taste the food produced in that manner.

The archeological localities in Greece are a must. We visited the prehistoric lake settlement with pile-dwellings near Dispilio. Several pile-dwellings have been reconstructed, which in a live and very authentic way talk about the life from the past. This settlement is considered to be the oldest of its kind in Europe and t is a place which must be seen when visiting this region.

The monasteries, the diggings from the Hellenist and Roma period, the sport localities, the villages with their original taverns are only part of the remaining potential in this municipality which offers great opportunity for “green” employment. That potential has been obviously recognized by the young people, so now, the result is that most of the villages and the small places are alive and developed. The visits to the picturesque villages, the towns of Kastoria and Argos Orestiko, the cultural localities and the mountaineering were followed by interesting presentations and lectures held by the Kalisto association members, and by some of the guests.

At the end, the thing that marked this ten-day excursion, were the two parties, one of which consisted of cooking typical traditional meals of each country. The Macedonian “kacamak” and “lutenica”, the Greek barbecue and the Bulgarian “banica”, the exchange of addresses and promises that we will meet again, on some other mountain….. 
 

Kastoria and Orestidos 

Beans, apple and chestnut – those are the symbols of Orestidos municipality which belongs to the municipality of Kastoria. On the territory of this municipality, one can find beautiful chestnut woods inhabited by rich wild life, including bears. One of the villages bears the name Kastanofito (in a free translation that means “the village of chestnuts”). Part of this municipality are also the rive Alijakmonas and the mountain Odrija. The town of Argos Orestiko, which is the center of this municipality, was built near the ancient Doclecianopolis. There are about 70 holiday homes there, built in neo-classical style, which give special beauty mark to the place. Some significant paleontology findings were discovered in the municipality, and the Petrified Wood is one of the best-known tourist destinations.

Kostur (Kastoria) is one of the most beautiful towns in Greece. It is located on a peninsula which, like a finger, enters the Kastoria Lake. From one side of the lake coast, one can see a spectacular sunrise and a spectacular sunset from the other side of the coast. Kostur is known by its 80 small Byzantine basilicas, wonderfully picturesque, and by the old villas – the so-called mansions, located on the lake shore. Dulco, the old part of the town, stands out with its beauty and its well preserved architecture, which reminds a lot of the Ohrid and the Krusevo one.    
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