Greece in mourning

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA) Political leaders expressed their shock and grief on Wednesday in the wake of a bank torching in central Athens that left three bank employees dead.

News of the abhorrent attack found Parliament in session to debate the latest round of government-announced austerity measures – the reason unions were holding protests outside the House.

» President of the Hellenic Republic

Referring to the current financial situation and the frustration many people are feeling with the political system, President Karolos Papoulias stated the following:
“Our country has reached the edge of the abyss. It is everybody’s responsibility that we do not take the fatal step. Responsibility is proven through action, not in words. History will judge us all.”

» Prime Minister

Prime Minister George Papandreou rebuked a murderous attack, while promising that “the perpetrators will be located and will stand trial.” Moreover, the premier called on all Parliament-represented parties to unequivocally condemn the violence.

“Ladies and gentlemen, we are a free and democratic country. We fight, and have fought, for the right to live in a democratic Greece. And each citizen has a right to demonstrate.
But no one has the right to resort to violence, especially violence leading to the murder of fellow citizens. And we know that violence breeds violence. Protest is different from murder.”

» Opposition Leaders

Main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras stressed that the country is going through “critical moments,” while expressing his grief for the innocent victims of fanaticism, and random violence.
The leaders of the remaining opposition parties – the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) Secretary General Aleka Papariga, Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) parliamentary group Chief Alexis Tsipras and Popular Orthodox Rally (LA.OS) leader George Karatzaferis – each condemned the violence and expressed their condolences to the victims’ families.

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Voting for the Greatest Greek

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)  In search of the most influential Greek personality of all time, Skai Television launched on February 16 the first part of the “Great Greeks” series, presented by Alexis Papachelas. After a voting procedure ended on May 2008, the public chose the 100 greatest Greeks, who are being presented in a 4-hour-long documentary. At the end of this project, based on the BBC’s own “Great Britons” series, there will be a final, live debate conducted by Papachelas between the supporters of each of the top ten Greeks and a live audience in order to pick the “greatest.” More information www.skai.gr/greatgreeks (in Greek); Greek News Agenda: Voting for Greatest Greeks ; Foundation of the Hellenic World: Hellenic History 

The Art Collection of National Bank of Greece on Display

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)   The exhibition “Greek Artists from the National Bank Collection” opened recently at the National Art Gallery-Museum Alexandros Soutzos (www.nationalgallery.gr), and reflects the taste and mentality of a number of National Bank governors over the years. “Immediately after the bank’s founding in 1841, art played a major role: it was institutional, with the governors’ portraits, it was ideological, with the promotion of the war of independence – still recent at that time – and it was also a matter of aesthetics, “said National Gallery director Marina Lambraki-Plaka. Portraits welcome visitors, and some are originals, but there are also digital prints because it was difficult to transfer the originals from the halls of the National Bank. The collection comprises 2,500 works in total, 200 of which are on display at the Gallery. The paintings range from art by Nikiforos Lytras to Constntinos Volonakis and from Alexis Akrithakis to Costas Tsoclis. The exhibition runs until March 22, 2009.  Kathimerini daily: Artistic treasury goes on display; National Bank of Greece Cultural Foundation (MIET): Collections 

Greek Prime Minister Confers with State Leadership

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)  Following further acts of vandalism by small groups, Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis met  with President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias early morning yesterday, and briefed him on the latest upheaval triggered by the loss of the 15 year-old pupil. Following their meeting, the premier held  successive meetings with all leaders of the opposition parties who vehemently condemned the acts of violence perpetrated in the echo of the events. Yesterday, Minister of Interior Pavlopoulos clarified that there is no need for emergency measures to be taken and that law enforcement is being carried out through standard procedure. He further stressed that the government will not tolerate the manipulation of the lost adolescent’s memory and its use as an excuse for delinquency.  Secretary General of Information, Panos Livadas was invited yesterday to participate in BBC World Radio’s Newshour, during which, he reiterated the Prime Minister’s commitment on behalf of the government to indemnify the people whose property was destroyed or damaged. He further stressed that the government is determined to safeguard the right to freedom of expression in a peaceful way, without allowing minorities to infiltrate, creating violent unrest. 

Greece Mourns Death of Youth

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)   A tragic incident took place on Saturday night, when a teenager was shot by a police officer. Due process is being followed: the two people responsible for this act of violence have been brought to justice. One of them is charged with premeditated manslaughter, and the second with complicity. The whole of Greece in one voice, be it the government, the opposition, and the people themselves, expressed its condemnation of the tragic incident of Saturday night. Some isolated extremist groups tried to take advantage of this spontaneous expression of sorrow and transformed it into acts of vandalism of public and private property in downtown Athens.In a condolence letter to the boy’s parents on Sunday, Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis promised the state would do everything in its power to prevent such a tragedy from occurring again. Early aftermoon, the premier made the following statement:

“As every Greek, I feel deep sorrow for the unfair loss of the young pupil. At such difficult times, my thought is with his friends and family. I know that there is nothing that can soothe their pain. However, I want to assure everyone that the State will spare no effort to render justice. The culprits will receive the punishment they deserve. Each and every Greek can rest assure that the State will do anything in its power for this tragedy not to be repeated in the future. At this point, everyone has a part to play: The government first and foremost, along with all political forces, the youth and the rest of the society. It is unfortunate that extremist elements have taken advantage of the tragic event to serve their own purposes. With everything that they perpetrated, especially yesterday, it becomes obvious that their sole motive was bare violence and that their aim mere destruction. Once again, their acts turned against innocent people and their properties, therefore against society as a whole. In a State governed by law and democracy, the duty of the government, of any government, is to protect society. Those unacceptable and dangerous incidents occurred, under the cover of the commotion stirred by this tragic event must not and will not be tolerated again. The State will protect the citizens, it will protect society. I have asked the Minister of Economy and Finance to explore every possibility in order, for our co-citizens whose property was destroyed or damaged, to be immediately and fully indemnified. There are specific proposals already tabled which will be further elaborated in the coming days by the competent ministries involved. Life is the supreme good. Its loss is irreplaceable. May the stance of each and every one of us pay tribute to the memory of Alexis.” 
President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias also sent a telegram expressing the state’s condolences to the parents. “I express by deepest anguish for the loss of your son. His death was a wound to the operation of the state of law. I hope that it is the last and I am certain that those to blame will be held responsible,” Papoulias said in his message.  During a news conference on Sunday, Interior Minister, Prokopis Pavlopoulos, said, “It is inconceivable for there not to be punishment when a person, let alone a minor, loses their life.” He added: “The loss of life is something that is inconceivable in a democracy.”  Pavlopoulos tendered his resignation soon after the incident, but the premier did not accept it.  Athens News Agency: PM promises ‘no leniency’ over boy’s death