In an exclusive interview for Cyprus in Style Magazine, The Mayor of Pafos, Phedon Phedonos, reveals an insight into the redevelopment of Pafos and his future plans for the City. He has made a huge contribution to the new face of Pafos through his social and political efforts.
Phedonos grew up in Pafos and after his national service, he studied International and European Economic Studies at the Athens University of Economics and Business (AUEB). He later gained a Masters in International and European Studies from the same university and also holds a law degree from Neapolis University in Pafos. He lives in Pafos with his wife and two children.
Not afraid to tackle issues head on or express his own opinion, we meet the man behind the transformation of Pafos.
“We need to promote Pafos as a regional centre of excellence for education.”
Interview by Cyprus in Style Magazine: October 2019
HOW DID YOU ENTER INTO POLITICS?
It was over thirty years ago, as a young student, I developed an interest in all aspects of the community and society in which we live. It fascinated me and I knew I wanted to make a difference. I had always had a strong interest in politics, but when I went to university I became involved on a more serious level. I was President of the Students’ Association when I studied at Athens University. At the age of 25, I became the District Secretary of The Democratic Rally Political Party in Pafos. In 2011, I became Municipal Councillor of Pafos Municipality and then went on to become Mayor of Pafos in 2015.
WHAT IS THE BIGGEST PROBLEM YOU FACE IN PAFOS?
We need to increase the population of our city. We want to attract all nationalities to Pafos, but we want the Cypriot people who grew up here to stay, and not lose them to other locations. We are working on building a new university for Pafos as we need our young people to finish their studies here, rather than abroad. We need to make sure that they return. It is a challenge to create the right environment for them to stay and make Pafos their home.
We have two very strong pillars in Pafos – tourism and property development – but we need to create a third through the creation of further educational establishments. This will help our economy.
“Pafos is changing and this luxury lifestyle magazine is an excellent platform for the promotion of our town and its people. Well done and good luck to the team at Cyprus in Style Magazine.”
WHAT IS YOUR OPINION ON 5G?
This is a very big issue but it is difficult for me to give a clear opinion until all the facts are in. We are waiting for the official statement by the Ministry of Health and also rely on our advisors for further information. Our priority is with the people of Pafos and their health. We will wait to see the statement from Parliament and take it from there.
TELL US ABOUT FUTURE PLANS FOR PAFOS.
The two pillars of tourism and property development are not sustainable in the long-term. Our aim is to make Pafos an appealing destination for companies to relocate. We want to attract innovative, technological companies to ensure we will always be able to employ our young people.
Pafos has so much to offer any company looking for a new base to relocate to. We are by the sea, we have affordable housing, a beautiful town centre and the space to build new buildings to house these companies. In the future, I would like to see Pafos as a smart and digital city.
In addition, we are working on a centre for innovation, technology and entrepreneurship which will help to create wealth in our region. This will be called the Pafos Innovation Institute. It will give great opportunities to students from Egypt, Jordan and Israel. We need to promote Pafos as a regional centre of excellence for education, as we are in a very strategic geographical location.
WHEN YOU THINK OF THE CHANGES YOU HAVE MADE OVER THE YEARS, WHAT MAKES YOU MOST PROUD?
It has been wonderful to see all the changes that have occurred over the last few years. I am particularly proud of the development that has taken place around the Old Town in the centre of the City. I have played an active role in this and feel that everyone involved should be congratulated for the change in Pafos.
Pafos is changing but we are far from finished and our future projects will certainly enhance our city.
The main centre, Kennedy Square, has changed beyond recognition and is now alive with locals and visitors. Current projects include the reconstruction of roads and the development of Green Linear Parks to improve everyone’s quality of daily life.
Of course we have our critics, as some people do not like to see change. We believe that what we have done within the constraints of our budgets has certainly improved our city and the day-to-day life of our citizens – our citizens are always our priority.
WHO HAS BEEN THE BIGGEST INFLUENCE IN YOUR LIFE?
To be honest, many people have influenced me throughout my life but my main philosophy is always to rely on instinct. I have always tried to absorb knowledge from various sources and use it to the best of my ability.
TELL US ABOUT FUTURE LINKS WITH OTHER COUNTRIES.
We are working very hard on creating international relationships across the world. We are the last Eastern European Union country on the map. It is our intention to form a network with our neighbouring countries.
We are developing strong relations with Alexandria in Egypt, Herzliya in Israel and Amman in Jordan. We are also increasing links with Beirut and are very pleased that a direct flight was recently introduced from Beirut to Pafos Airport.
It is very important to create and work for diplomacy with these countries. Our cities need to work together for a peaceful solution. This will allow us to spread innovation and development. Pafos is a bridge to these countries from Europe.
WHAT ABOUT THE PROJECTS YOU HAVE ACCOMPLISHED OVER THE YEARS?
There are many and some of them are ongoing. It is a good feeling to see the positive changes in Pafos since I became Mayor. Of course, there are many more developments we are planning for our city, but for now, we are very proud of our achievements as a team in Pafos.
It is probably easier to list them all so that people are aware of all the changes that have taken place:
- The renovation of the traditional shopping area in the Old Town and Kennedy Square.
- The enhancement and renovation of the Municipal Markideio Theatre.
- The connection and promotion of the squares around the Town Hall: October 28th Square, Kosti Palama and Dionysio Solomou.
- Remodelling and highlighting areas in the Moutallos District.
- Regeneration of the Square of Administration and the area around the District Administration Buildings.
- The full restoration of Ibrahim’s Khan.
- Improvements on sections of Evagora Pallikaridis Ave, Andrea Geroudi, Andrea Tselepou and Zenos Kitiies Street.
- Renovation and upgrade of the Municipal Market.
- Creation of a new Vegetable Market.
- Unification of Kato Pafos Archaeological Sites.
- Creation of a South and West pedestrian path in the coastal area of Kato Pafos.
- Improvements to the Northwest Pafos Sea Front near The Venus Beach Hotel.
- Creation of a new cemetery.
- Restoration of the centre of the traditional fishing part of Kato Pafos.
- Creation of 12 new playgrounds and green areas.
- Creation of 2 new linear parks, East and Northwest of Pafos.
- Creation of the Pafos Central Municipal Park.
- Construction of the Social Welfare Centre for children and the elderly.
- Unification of the Craftsmanship Area.
- Construction for the Pafos Innovation Institute.
- Renovation and configuration of 40 work places for “start-ups” in central Pafos.
- Installation of “Smart Pillars” for street lights.
- Installation of “Smart Bus Stops”.
- Digitalisation of all data in the Municipal Technical Department.
- Investment in an electric-powered bus for free visitor transport.
- Creation of a Smart Mobile Application to provide information and technological advantages.
- Renovation of Fellachoglou Street which incorporates 2 new parking areas.
- Road paving and pavement construction in various areas.
- Renovation of the traditional central area in the Anavargos District.
- Renovation of the southern part of the city’s shopping centre.
- Redevelopment of the Theoskepastis Square and the surrounding streets in Kato Pafos.
- The external lighting of the public buildings in the Town Centre – Town Hall, Municipal Library, public schools, 28th October Square and fountain of “Erotas”.
Interview by Cyprus in Style Magazine.
Written by Sarah Coyne