According to unconfirmed reports from Greece and Cyprus a Cypriot business group is allegedly looking to build a tourist resort on the protected island of Dokos, which has valuable archaeological findings. Dokos is situated between Ermioni on the mainland and to the west of the Saronic island of Hydra, in the Saronic Gulf.
Residents of the nearby island of Hydra as well as archaeologists who have been excavating in the area for years are concerned over these allegations. Though the reports appear to be without foundation, they recall methods used in other similar cases, in which there was pressure to lift a site’s protected status for the purpose of profit. Though declared as a protected zone, proposals regarding its “development” have been raised time and again.
This rumor has been floated in the customary real estate business fashion where a Cypriot firm, the Kerlengou Group of Companies, released an interview with its CEO Costas Kerlengou in the form of a sponsored page in the Cypriot daily Phileleftheros on December 24, 2006. Kerlengou discussed certain business plans amongst which was the bid to purchase islands in Greece by the group’s subsidiary, Kerlengou Island Investments Plan Ltd. Other Cypriot media picked up the news. Kerlengou let it be understood that negotiations to buy Dokos were well underway. The story then reached the Greek media, where Dokos had allegedly already changed hands and that plans were ready for a 12,000-square-meter development, including a hotel, bungalows, marina and other installations.
Kerlengou said that he had not yet bought land on Dokos, but claimed that negotiations with some of the owners, who hold 20-30 percent of the island, were at an advanced stage. Apparently the owners had told him that building restrictions on the island were no longer in force. Nevertheless, he had not sought to contact the Municipality of Hydra for information on the island’s protected status the Municipality confirmed.
“There has been a rumor that the island has been sold, but no candidate buyer has contacted us,” said both Hydra Deputy Mayor Giorgos Koukoudakis and Head of the Municipal Council Panayiotis Markantonis. A lawyer representing one of the owners at a meeting with Kerlengou said that there were doubts about the seriousness of the undertaking as Kerlengou had told the media that he had bought Dokos even before he had contacted the owners.
“It is not the first time efforts have been made to build on Dokos,” said Manolis Tsakiris, head of the Hydriot Seal, an ecology group “In the past, a building cooperative took recourse to the Council of State to try and lift the protected status but was defeated. Six or seven illegally built structures on the island have been condemned but not demolished. Recently a road was bulldozed through the wood, but local authorities have done nothing.”
Known in history as Aperopia, Dokos was inhabited from the Neolithic period (4th millennium BC) and flourished after the 13th century BC with settlements in the areas of Myti Kommeni and Ledeza.
Ruins of Proto-Helladic, Late Helladic and Hellenistic settlements survive, along with Hellenistic and Byzantine monuments. In 1975, the oldest shipwreck in the world bearing a cargo of pottery was found near the island at a depth of 15-30 meters. It belonged to the second Proto-Helladic period, 2700-2200 BC, and was excavated in 1989-1992.