European Small Islands Federation

Archive for HSIN

Europe’s friendliest island?


Tilos won the EU Sustainable Energy Award 2017 with its renewable energy-based battery station and smart microgrid, sending a very strong message that alternative, community-level schemes that foster energy storage are becoming a viable reality and a way to address energy security for islands.

But the 800-strong community might also be Europe’s friendliest island, having made 50 refugees feel at home. New arrivals are being given accommodation and residency, as long as they work and integrate.

Most migrants in Greece live in camps, while Tilos has housed 50 migrants.

Kaousay al Damad

Kaousay al Damad came to Tilos from a camp on Lesbos. He works in the bakery: – “I lost seven months in Lesbos. I need work. I’m not coming here for eating, for sleeping, for ‘please give me money’ or ‘please give me home.’ When I arrived to Tilos, all my life changed. This is not Tilos. This name is not Tilos, it is dreamland.”

The Syrians of Tilos have been here less than a year. Many locals hope they will stay.

Maria Kamma is the Mayor of Tilos: ”If this small island managed to do this then it is a bright example that with a little bit of effort there will be no refugee crisis, no humanitarian crisis, there will be no refugee problem, not only in Greece but in all of Europe, too.”

Maria Kamma is the chairman of the Greek island organisation Hellenic Small Islands Network (HSIN), proud member of ESIN, which will hold its 2018 annual general meeting on Tilos in May, 2018.


Hellenic Small Islands Network


Greek nature is abundant and rich, as reflected in the variety of local crops and goods produced on the small Greek islands. Their agro-food items —although produced in limited quantities— are distinguished by their high quality. These superior products can therefore be included in gourmet categories. Realistically, production and sales of local agro-grain products from many small Greek Islands have the potential for further development.

The Hellenic Network of Small Islands – HSIN – has begun to track local products of the small islands. Their goal is to map and promote local products to enhance our islands’ profile and to increase public awareness of the valuable resources our islands produce.

The transfer of know-how from other national or European regions —with similarly successful examples— is vital in the effort to in facilitate the selection of the right processes needed to strengthen the agro-food market sector.

The social economy of the small islands is crucial to this endeavor. HSIN has researched and conducted studies on this significant subject including: study of the institutional framework of social enterprises; microcredit development study for women; microcredit business office operating plan; social economy guide; social economy study; promotion of corporate social responsibility and sponsoring the social economy in island regions; planning study and monitoring system organization; study for the development and promotion of financial instruments with particular emphasis on microcredit; study recording business operations and third sector bodies in island regions; study for the creation of an observation center for the monitoring and recording of the social economy sector in the island regions; study for the creation of an island network – a social economy observation centre; organization of workshops on specialized topics for potential and existing entrepreneurs; training of potential and existing entrepreneurs etc. It is an implementation of one of the largest projects in the Equal development partnership, called Telemachos.

Another important factor for the agro-food chain of the smaller islands, is the development of production infrastructure, and packaging and sales to markets beyond the island. Today, in some small islands, production and distribution is still in its infancy and the involvement of the state should be apparent, lasting and supportive.


The Hellenic Small Island Network is a Non-Profit organization with members comprised mainly of island municipalities with a population of less than 5,000.

It was founded in 2007 and operates throughout Greece (North Aegean, South Aegean, Ionian, Argosaronic, Sporades islands etc).

The mission of HSIN is to develop the human and social resources of the islands. To this end, HSIN seeks to support the societies and municipalities of the small islands in all matters relating to their development, including Greek administration and the European Union.

HSIN are members of:

The Island Policy Council, which is under the authority of the Prime Minister

The Pan-European Federation of Small Island Networks.

The Yacht Transport Council

The Project Management Team of the General Secretariat of the Aegean and Island Policy

The Bureau of the Council of Social Control of ERT (Greek Radio Broadcasting)

HSIN is a member of the Monitoring Committees NSRF 2007-2013 in the Regions of North Aegean, South Aegean, Ionian, Peloponnese and Western Greece. HSIN participates in the consultation of the New NSRF 2001-4-2020 as a social partner and member of the Monitoring Committees for the Ionian Region.

HSIN has implemented European programs, participated in legislative discussions in Parliament, and have shown our continuous presence since the Council’s founding. At European Union level, it has participated in actions and consultations concerning the small islands and have excellent cooperation with all the coordinating bodies of the European Commission and European Parliament.

HSIN is a registered member of the EU Transparency Register. Its delegations have often participated in various activities (conferences, seminars or meetings) in Brussels and continue to be a member – observer of key European bodies supporting island policy. It is an institutional interlocutor with the European Commission of Insular and Coastal Areas, Conference of Peripheral Maritime Regions.

And, as the readers of this blog are well aware of. HSIN has the Vice-Presidency of ESIN – the European Federation of Small Islands, through its president Eleftherios Kechagioglou.


Bottoms Up

Much of what we know about the ocean floor’s topology we know from data collected by multibeam sonar systems. It is estimated that these sonar systems – which have to be lugged back and forth by ships across the surface of the sea in order to acquire soundings of the seafloor deep beneath them – have left a staggering 90% of the deep-sea bottom uncharted.

Seas, ecosystems and marine resources in general are subject to considerable pressures. Human activities and the effects of climate change, natural disasters, erosion and deposition in waters around islands and along mainland coasts can create serious effects on marine ecosystems leading to environmental degradation, biodiversity loss and ecosystem degradation, and eventually to social and economic stagnation.


Now, ESIN’s Greek member organization HSIN led by its charismatic president Elefterios Kechagioglou has obtained Interreg financing for high resolution seafloor mapping and bottom characterization of East Mediterranean waters, called “GeoMarine”.

The consortium is a transnational, including 8 partners: Hellenic Small Islands Network, lead partner, University of Athens/Faculty of Geology and Geoenvironment, and University of Thessaloniki/Department of Geology (Greece), Institute for Oceanology in Varna and Bulgarian Cartographic Association (Bulgaria), ORION Joint Research and Development Centre (Cyprus), South East European Research Institute on Geo Sciences (Macedonia) and the Municipality of Saranda (Albania).

The objectives of “GeoMarine” project is to develop the infrastructure (eg, boat & equipment) and technology (eg, S/W and tools) offering:

  • High-resolution mapping of the sea bottom using Multibeam echosounder, and
  • Additional technologies & Surveying practices such as sediment sampling and its application in case studies covering pool areas, islands and their surrounding area

We wish the project the best of luck. Preserving and protecting the sea is always a top priority for us islanders. We are living in it.


Loubrieu B., C. Satra, R. Cagna & al. (N. Chamot-Rooke), 2001. Cartography by multibeam echo-sounder of the Mediterranean Ridge and surrounding areas, International Commission for the Scientific Exploration of the Mediterranean Sea (CIESM) & Ifremer, sheet 1 : Morpho-bathymetry, sheet 2 : Acoustic imagery, 1:1.500.000 scale.

Letter from Kastellorizo

Från kyrkan

Small islands can have a large diaspora. So is the case of Kastellorizo, where ESIN held its Annual General Meeting in September 2015 and learned about the great number of islanders living abroad: in the 1920s, 3,000 people lived on the island while about 8,000 lived abroad mainly in Australia, USA, Egypt and Greece.

Today, the municipality counts 492 inhabitants.

Four years ago, the Hellenic Initiative was founded by members of the global Greek and philhellene communities who were compelled to respond to the worsening economic crisis of Greece. This intitative:

– is committed to Greece, faults and all, dedicating its time, resources and networks to secure a different future.

– is about investment, not handouts, focused on impact and outcomes, whether it’s a grant to a nonprofit organization, mentorship for an emerging entrepreneur, or investment in a small business. What matters is impact, not effort.

– does not have all the answers but acts anyway.

Ten days ago, the Hellenic Intiative funded a visit to Kastellorizo of a team from Doctors of the World to provide specialised medical services to the local population. This is a letter from Michael Printzos, Hellenic Initiative Program Director, following that visit:

“Dear All,

I am writing this report from the comfort of my desk overwhelmed with feelings of mixed emotions after my recent visit to Kastellorizo. Following Alexandra’s lead I contacted one of the local doctors (Giannis) trying to map down the island’s needs. I arrived last Friday 18 March together with a team from “Doctors of the World” comprised of 2 dentists, 1 paediatrician, 1 cardiologist, 1 orthopaedic surgeon, 1 neurologist, 1 gynaecologist, 1 nurse, 1 project manager and 1 driver.

We also brought a mobile unit full of medical supplies that the local doctor had asked for (including body bags which unfortunately we were called to use later that weekend). At this point, I would like to say that Kastellorizo is currently served by two doctors on a permanent basis. The first one is Giannis a great guy about my age, eager to serve the local community the best way possible, but the bad news is that Giannis will leave the island in a couple of months.

During the first day, we had some people visiting us as we were slowly starting to build the necessary trust so that others could follow. The queues became much larger the second day when a greater number of locals, as well as some military servicemen, together with their families asked for our specialised services. We even visited a few patients at their homes as in the case of the neurologist who examined some older patients suffering from stroke and multiple sclerosis. By the end of the second day everything seemed peaceful and we didn’t have a sign of what we were about to encounter the next morning.

On Sunday when I arrived at the medical unit, I realised that there was some sort of action taking place outside the norms of the previous days. Apparently during the night a total of 83 people arrived to Kastellorizo (from the nearby Greek island of Ro) with 2 kids, around 2 years old, pronounced dead. The kids drowned when their pregnant mothers tried to carry them on their hands. I happened to be in front when they put their dead bodies in the bags and this is an image that I will never forget. All of our doctors have been running up and down the place trying to help the ones in need. One moment you see the dead bodies and the next, only a few metres away, the smiles from the children who made it and were examined by our paediatrician. Life and death seemed very close together.

The local population was a little bit numb to the news. The whole island seemed a little bit weird to me. It was like God set the most beautiful stage to share the most horrible news. Under the sun, with all its colours, Kastellorizo looked so beautiful while at the same time refugees weakened by their battle with the sea were examined by doctors and questioned by police.

It is the very first time that I report back without any numbers. I decided this time not to write this email as The Hellenic Initiative’s Program Director, but as Michael, a silent observer of a huge humanitarian catastrophe that takes place -every single day – in our islands. What was reported in today’s news as 2 kids dead, for me it was 2 sweet little angels inside a body bag.

As I was leaving this place I made a promise to be in touch with the local doctor (Giannis) and hopefully one day soon to come back. After all the island’s history is full of stories of people trying to reach it or trying to leave it in their own dramatic way. The room that I stayed was next to St George tou Pigadiou church. There is this memorial dedicated to the ship wreck of the Empire Patrol with 33 Kastellorizians drowned as they were approaching their homeland in 1945. The Sunday news and the image of the 2 dead kids somehow proved to me that history repeats itself as a tragedy first.

One way or the other there is something special about this place. Something that you feel only when you visit. I am proud that we organised this mission at a time that it was deeply needed.


Michael Printzos”

Vy-över-Mounta 230m