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International Court of Justice Ruling on Distomo Case

In an announcement, issued on February 3, concerning an International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruling upholding Germany’s position, that it enjoys state immunity from being sued in foreign courts by victims of Nazi atrocities during World War II, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs states that the Greek government will study this Judgement closely, in the light of its firm and longstanding position that the matter of German compensations remains open.
The judgement affects the case of the south-central Greek village of Distomo, where Nazi troops killed 214 civilians on June 10, 1944, one of the numerous instances of WWII atrocities in occupied Greece. The court case concerned the confiscation of German property on Italian soil for reparations to be paid to victims of Distomo.

  • MPs Raise War Reparations Issue

Meanwhile, in Athens, 28 MPs from PASOK, New Democracy (ND), Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) as well as independent deputies tabled a motion in Parliament requesting a discussion on issues concerning the so-called German occupation loan from Greece during WWII, as well as the issue of war reparations to victims of Nazi atrocities and stolen treasures from the country.
In a letter addressed to the presidents of competent parliamentary committees, the MPs called on Parliament to adopt a clear stance on this “crucial national issue.”
(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)

Last Voyage for Theo Angelopoulos

Angelopoulos can be counted

as one of the few filmmakers
in cinema’s first hundred years
 who compel us to redefine
what we feel cinema is and can be.”
Andrew Horton

World-acclaimed film director, and ambassador of Greek cinema abroad, Theo Angelopoulos died on the 24th January, after being hit by a motorcycle, while filming in Drapetsona, near Pireaus. Winner of several international film awards, Angelopoulos had started shooting his latest film, The Other Sea, earlier this month. His untimely death hit headlines around the globe.
Angelopoulos was born in Athens in 1935. He studied Law at Athens University, and at the beginning of the ‘60s he moved to France where he followed courses in ethnography and studied film at the Institute of Advanced Cinematographic Studies in Paris. Upon returning to Greece, he initially worked as a film critic and in 1970 he completed his first feature film Anaparastassi (Reconstruction).
His next three films make up a trilogy on the history of contemporary Greece: Meres tou ’36 (Days of ’36, 1972), O Thiassos (Travelling Players, 1975) and Oi Kynighoi (The Hunters, 1977), followeed by Megalexandros in 1980.
With these films some of the thematic and stylistic constants of Angelopoulos’ cinema were established – the weight of history, a clinical examination of power, a Brechtian theatricality, wherein the individual has no importance with respect to the group, a rejection of conventional narration in favour of an intentionally broken one, in which stationary cameras and sequence-length shots create an alternative sense of time.
Taxidi sta Kithira (Voyage to Cythera), in 1984, won the Cannes Festival International Critics’ Award for best screenplay, followed by O Melissokomos (The Beekeeper), in 1986, starring Marcello Mastroianni. With Topio stin Omichli (Landscape in the Mist) in 1988 he won the Silver Lion at the Venice Mostra. 
His filmography in the 90s included To meteoro vima tou pelargou (The Suspended Step of the Stork, 1991), followed by To vlemma toy Odyssea (Ulysses’ Gaze, 1995), starring Harvey Keitel – which won the Grand Jury Prize and the International Critics’ Prize at Cannes Festival. 
Then in 1998, he won the Cannes Palme D’Or prize for Mia eoniotita kai mia mera (Eternity and a Day) with Bruno Ganz. In 2003, he began another trilogy with To livadi pou dakryzi (The Wheeping Meadow) followed by H skoni tou chronou (Dust of Time, 2009). The film The Other Sea that he was currently shooting was to complete the trilogy.
(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)

Greek Companies prospering in Poland (Warsaw Business Journal)

Greece has made the headlines for all the wrong reasons in 2011, with the country being hit by political turmoil as it struggles under the effects of the economic crisis. However, for many Greek companies based inPoland, this year has been business as usual.
There are currently about 40 companies with Greek capital active in the Polish market, according to figures from the Embassy of Greece in Warsaw.
Greek-owned companies have invested more than €1.4 billion and created a total of 11,000 jobs in Poland, the country’s ambassador to Poland, Gabriel Coptsidis, said in a statement earlier this year.
Mellon Group, a company headquartered in Athens specializing in IT services and sales for financial institutions, telecommunications firms and companies in the retail sector, established itself in the Polish market almost six years ago. A growing Polish client base, which includes lenders such as PKO Bank Polski, Polbank EFG, and mBank, helped Mellon Poland make it in to the top 100 companies of Europe’s 500 fastest growing companies in 2010. Europe’s 500, which makes the ranking, is an association of fast growing owner-managed companies in Europe.
“This year is better than the previous one, and we have not been affected,” said Grigorios Kotoulas, General Manager, Mellon Poland. “However, we see in the market that there is a slowdown, but not a recession. We are making plans accordingly but none that … will affect our forecast for2012”, he added.
For Lefteris Maroulis, general director of sports betting firm Totolotek (owned by Greek company Intralot), business has been going well inPoland. Totolotek is a company which has been organizing sports betting in Poland since 1992 and operates close to 400 locations in the country.
(Warsaw Business Journal, 20/12/2011)

Για την προετοιμασία του άρθρου η δημοσιογράφος Veronika Joy συνεργάστηκε με το Γραφείο Τύπου και το Γραφείο Οικονομικών και Εμπορικών Υποθέσεων. Continue reading

Tribute to poet Odysseus Elytis

On November 2, 2011 Greece commemorates the 100th anniversary since the birth of poet laureate Odysseus Elytis. To mark the centenary of his birth, 2011 has been designated as Elytis Year by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism. Odysseus Elytis was born in Heraklion, Crete on November 2, 1911 and died in Athens on March 18, 1996.
A major poet in Greek language, Elytis is also one of the outstanding international figures of 20th-century poetry. Elytis’ poetry has marked, through an active presence of over forty years, a broad spectrum of subjects with a rarefied and passionate stylistic touch. The first collections of poetry (Orientations, 1939, and Sun the First, 1943) are joyous and radiant, celebrating the Greek landscape as an ideal world of sensual enjoyment and moral purity.
His experience of the war in 1940s marks a departure from the sunny atmosphere of his early youth and poetry, colouring his long poem Heroic and Elegiac Song for the Lost Second Lieutenant of Albania (1943). The attempt of Elytis to identify himself with the nation and speak for himself and also for his country reaches its peak with Axion Esti (‘Worthy It Is,’ 1959), his central and most ambitious work for which he was awarded the 1979 Nobel Prize for Literature.
His experience of the war in 1940s marks a departure from the sunny atmosphere of his early youth and poetry, colouring his long poem Heroic and Elegiac Song for the Lost Second Lieutenant of Albania (1943). The attempt of Elytis to identify himself with the nation and speak for himself and also for his country reaches its peak with Axion Esti (‘Worthy It Is,’ 1959), his central and most ambitious work for which he was awarded the 1979 Nobel Prize for Literature.

Centenary Celebrations
The Athens Concert Hall is paying tribute to Odysseus Elytis by holding a two-day (October 31 to November 1) international conference titled Odysseus Elytis: The 20th century in the poetry of Elytis. The poetry of Elytis in the 21st century, exploring new approaches in the interpretation of his work.
On November 2 and 3, there will be an event of original music by George Kouroupos under the title Odysseus Elytis’ This Small, this Great World!, with poetry and prose set to music, representing the main facets of the work of Odysseus Elytis: lyricism, a restless spirit of inquiry, courage, spirituality, sensation and true emotions. Continue reading

Tourism: Strong Numbers (analysis)

A Global Tourism Destination

Greece is one of the top tourism destinations in the world. In fact Lonely Planet placed Greece among its top 10 destinations for 2010 and the Greek Islands were voted the best island destination in the world globally by Conde Nast readers in 2011.

The number of tourism visits over the last decade has shown a steady increase. From 14.2 million international visitors in 2004, more than 17 million people visited Greece in 2010, and it is expected that in a few years this number will reach 20 million, almost twice the country’s population.

The increasing number of tourists and the evolving profile of today’s traveler demand a host of new tourism offerings and infrastructure projects. In Greece, investors will find a wide spectrum of opportunities, a welcome environment for new investment, and some of the most beautiful locations in the world.

Tourism Industry Strengthened—Three Factors
In addition to the increased number of arrivals reported in 2011, the tourism industry as a whole strengthened in 2011, mainly due to a) the reduction of VAT for hotels, enhancing their competitiveness, b) simplified procedures for travel documents, particularly boosting Russian arrivals and c) partial lifting of restrictions for the cruise industry.

For more:
http://www.investingreece.gov.gr/default.asp?pid=127&nwslID=19&sec=8


Foreign Media and Greece`s Country Image in the Economic Crisis

On May 31, the Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy (ELIAMEP) together with the Association of Greek Press Attaches is hosting a conference on Foreign Media and Greece’s country image in the economic crisis.
The event will be held at the premises of the Secretariat General of Information in Athens. The conference will be addressed by the General Director of the Greek Foundation for Economic and Industrial Research (IOBE) Yannis Stournaras, the General Director of the Greek-German Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Martin Knapp, journalist Maria Houkli, French media correspondent, Alexia Kefalas and Bodossakis Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow, George Tzogopoulos.
(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)

Extended visiting hours for museums and archaeological sites

Culture and Tourism Minister Pavlos Yeroulanos announced new extended visiting hoursof a number of museums and archeological sites in Greece on May 18.
The ministry said that the list will be further enriched in the future weeks, depending on the availability of staff.
The list includes some of the most popular sites and museums in Greece such as the Acropolis of Athens – Archaeological Site, which will be open from 8.00-19.00, all year round; the Thessaloniki Museum of Byzantine Culture; the Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki; the Archaeological Site of Philippi; the Archeological Museum and site of Mycenae; the Archeological Museum and site of Epidaurus; the Archaeological site of Mystras; the Archeological site and Museum of Afaia, Aegina; the Archeological Museum of Messenia; the Archeological site of Ancient Messene; the Catacombs on Milos island; the Herakleion Archeological Museum; the Archeological site of Knossos and the Spinalonga island on Crete.
The list also includes the Archaeological Museum of Drama; the Church of Panagia Kosmosoteira (Our Lady, Saviour of the World), in Ferres; the Grevena Archaeological Collection; the Museum of Asian Art, Corfu; the Archaeological Collection of Arta; the Byzantine Museum of Ioannina; the Ioannina Treasury; the Fortress of Ioannina; the Igoumenitsa Archaeological Museum; the Nekromanteion of Acheron; the Athanasakeion Archaeological Museum in Volos; the Archeological site of Nea Aghialos, Magnesia; the Byzantine Museum of Fthiotida at Ypati; the Monastery of Osios Loukas; the Corinth Archeological Museum.
Ministry of Culture & Tourism:  Brief Guides to Archaeological Museums in Greece Part I & Part II; YouTube: Culture in Greece [VIDEO] [Photo 3: The Nekromanteion of Acheron – Oracle of the Dead]
(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)

Farewell to Iakovos Kambanellis

Iakovos Kambanellis, one of the most prominent figures of post-war Greek literature, died yesterday at the age of 89.
Kambanellis was born on the island of Naxos and studied design in Athens. During the Nazi occupation of Greece in WW2 he became actively involved in the Resistance movement. He was arrested by the German occupying forces in 1943 and was sent to Mauthausen-Gusen concentration camp, from which he was liberated by the Allied Forces in 1945.
His legendary Mauthausen novel, which describes his experience as a concentration camp survivor, was set to music by Mikis Theodorakis and became one of the most influential works in Greek culture.
He wrote more than twenty plays and twelve film scripts, including Stella by Michael Cacoyannis and The Dragon by Nikos Koundouros. In an announcement, the Ministry of Culture and Tourism expressed deep regret for Kambanellis’ passing, noting that the deceased defined the style of post-war Greek theatre, adding that his works were deeply loved by the Greek audience, as they soberly and truthfully depicted the reality of life in Greece, its difficulties and joys.
ERT Digital Archive: Iakovos Kambanellis – Part 1& Part 2 (in Greek) [VIDEO]
(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)

World Poetry Day – 2011 Elytis Year

Odysseas Elytis and his work will be the focus of this year’s World Poetry Day, which is celebrated each year on March 21.
The National Book Centre of Greece (EKEBI) launches a poetry campaign including several events.
One of the day’s highlights is an event jointly organized by EKEBI and the Hellenic Authors’ Society which brings together well-known poets and writers such as Katerina Anghelaki-Rooke, Vassilis Vasilikos, Kiki Dimoula and Evgenia Fakinou to recite poems by Odysseas Elytis.
Athenians and citizens of Thessaloniki, Mytillini, Rhodes and Zakynthos will have the opportunity to come across illustrated verses by Elytis as public transport means will feature some of the Nobel laureate’s most beloved and renowned poems. Poetry reading nights, with young poets will also be held in Athens and Thessaloniki.
Moreover in Athens, poet Nanos Valaoritis will present a new theory regarding Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey at the Hellenic American Union, while at the Michael Cacoyannis Foundation, World Poetry Day will be celebrated through poetry, music and stand-up poetry.
The year 2011 has been designated as an Elytis Year by Culture and Tourism Ministry, in order to mark the 100th anniversary since the birth of the Nobel laureate poet.
Nobel Prize Organisation: Excerpt from Worthy It Is, Poetry International Web- Odysseas Elytis: I Lived the Beloved Name, Drinking the Sun of Corinth, Marina of the Rocks, The Wind That Loiters.
(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)

Holocaust Memorial Day

The opening of the exhibition The Memorial: 16 Artists Propose, featuring projects that were submitted last year by 16 artists, as part of an international competition for the construction of a Holocaust Memorial of Greek Jews, took place at the Jewish Museum of Greece.
The competition was conducted by the Jewish Community of Athens and resulted in the selection of the work of artist DeAnna Maganias which was unveiled at a special event in May 2010. The museum is also organising a week-long programme of educational activities and memorial events, lasting until February 4.
The exhibition –which will remain open until August 2011- is part of events that have been planned for the Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day, co-organized by the Attica region and the Jewish community of Athens for January 26 and 27. A memorial service was held on the 27th of January, at the Athens Synagogue in Thisseio, to be followed by a speech by University of Athens History Professor, Hagen Fleischer.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Dimitris Droutsas issued a statement on the occasion of the Holocaust Memorial Day, in which he referred to Greece’s continuing efforts to preseve historical memory and educate younger generations. He further added that preparations are underway for a permanent Greek exhibition at the Auschwitz Museum.  
(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)

Συνέντευξη ΥΠΕΞ Δ. Δρούτσα στην πολωνική εφημερίδα Rzeczpospolita (22.1.2011)

Η εφημερίδα Rzeczpospolita δημοσίευσε στην έκδοση του Σαββατοκύριακου (22-23/1/2011) συνέντευξη του Υπουργού Εξωτερικών Δημήτρη Δρούτσα, η οποία παραχωρήθηκε στη δημοσιογράφο Katarzyna Zuchowicz κατά τη διάρκεια της επίσημης επίσκεψης του υπουργού στη Βαρσοβία στις 19 Ιανουαρίου και διευθετήθηκε κατόπιν ενεργειών του Γραφείου Τύπου.
Πληρέστερη μορφή της συνέντευξης έχει αναρτηθεί στην ηλεκτρονική σελίδα της εφημερίδας (http://www.rp.pl/artykul/598043.html). 
Με τίτλο «Οι Έλληνες έχουν δικαίωμα να διαμαρτύρονται» και υπότιτλο «Συνομιλία / “Αποφύγαμε το χείριστο, δηλαδή την πτώχευση»” διαβεβαιώνει ο επικεφαλής του Ελληνικού Υπουργείου Εξωτερικών, Δημήτρης Δρούτσας», η δημοσιογράφος αναφέρει εισαγωγικά τα εξής:
«Νέες διαδηλώσεις κατά των κυβερνητικών σχεδίων εξοικονόμησης συγκλονίζουν την Ελλάδα. Τις τελευταίες ημέρες απεργούσαν γιατροί, φαρμακοποιοί, δικηγόροι, υπάλληλοι των σιδηροδρόμων, οδηγοί λεωφορείων στην Αθήνα, υπάλληλοι αρμόδιοι για την καθαριότητα του δήμου στη Θεσσαλονίκη. Την Πέμπτη στους δρόμους ξεχύθηκαν μερικές χιλιάδες άτομα. Στις αρχές Φεβρουαρίου θα πραγματοποιηθεί απεργία στον δημόσιο τομέα».
Ακολουθεί το πλήρες κείμενο της συνέντευξης:

 ΔΗΜΟΣΙΟΓΡΑΦΟΣ: Μέχρι πρότινος η Ελλάδα φαινόταν σαν είναι στο χείλος της χρεωκοπίας. Ορισμένοι άφηναν να εννοηθεί ότι προκειμένου να σωθεί, θα πρέπει να πουλήσει τα νησιά της ή ακόμη και την Ακρόπολη. Πως παρουσιάζεται η κατάσταση σήμερα;

ΥΠΟΥΡΓΟΣ: Η Ελλάδα έπρεπε να αντιμετωπίσει μια μεγάλη οικονομική πρόκληση. Και εξακολουθεί να την αντιμετωπίζει, δεν υπάρχει γι` αυτό καμία αμφιβολία. Η παρούσα κυβέρνηση, η οποία ανέλαβε την ευθύνη της χώρας πριν από 13 μήνες, από την αρχή ασχολήθηκε πολύ έντονα με την αναδιάρθρωση της οικονομίας. Και αμέσως προέβη σε οδυνηρές, αν και απαραίτητες ενέργειες. Μείωσε τους μισθούς, μεταρρύθμισε το σύστημα της κρατικής διοίκησης. Μείωσε τον αριθμό των περιφερειών από 50 σε 13. Μέχρι πρότινος είχαμε περισσότερους από 2.000 δήμους. Τώρα έχουμε 350. Χάρη σε αυτό ήμασταν σε θέση να περιορίσουμε τη γραφειοκρατία και κατά συνέπεια τις δαπάνες του κράτους. Δεν θα διστάσω να πω ότι χάρη σε αυτό μπορούμε να καταπολεμήσουμε και τη διαφθορά. Μετά από τόσο δύσκολους μήνες εργασίας έχουμε πλέον σημαντικά αποτελέσματα. Το 2010 μειώσαμε το έλλειμμα κατά 6%. Σε χρόνο ρεκόρ, σε διάστημα μόλις ενός έτους! Είναι άνευ προηγουμένου, όχι μόνο στην περίπτωση της Ελλάδας, αλλά και σε ολόκληρη την Ευρώπη.

ΔΗΜΟΣΙΟΓΡΑΦΟΣ: Η Ακρόπολη είναι ασφαλής;

ΥΠΟΥΡΓΟΣ: Είναι μια ιδέα που είναι κάτι παραπάνω από παράλογη. Ποτέ δεν απαντούσαμε σε αυτές τις προτάσεις των ΜΜΕ, διότι δεν τις αντιμετωπίζουμε σοβαρά. Αλλά και διότι ο ελληνικός λαός πραγματικά περνά από μια πάρα πολύ δύσκολη περίοδο. Πρέπει να κάνουμε πάρα πολλές θυσίες. Όμως παρόλα αυτά ξεκίνησε τη μάχη για το μέλλον της Ελλάδας. Οι Έλληνες χρειάζονται σήμερα εκφράσεις αναγνώρισης γι` αυτό που κάνουν. Και αλληλεγγύη. Και σίγουρα όχι τόσο ανόητες προτάσεις, όπως η πώληση της Ακρόπολης.

ΔΗΜΟΣΙΟΓΡΑΦΟΣ: Μπορούμε λοιπόν να πούμε ήδη ότι η Ελλάδα βγαίνει στην ευθεία και η κρίση οδεύει προς το τέλος;

ΥΠΟΥΡΓΟΣ: Πράξαμε πολλά, αλλά μας αναμένει ακόμη πολλή εργασία. Είμαστε έτοιμοι – και η κυβέρνηση και ο λαός, αν και η αποδοχή όλων των περικοπών και των αλλαγών δεν είναι εύκολη, διότι αυτές χωρίς εξαίρεση θίγουν τον κάθε πολίτη της Ελλάδας. Η πλειοψηφία των Ελλήνων γνωρίζει όμως ότι αυτές οι αλλαγές είναι αναγκαίες και τις στηρίζει. Πρέπει να θυμόμαστε ότι αποφύγαμε το χειρότερο σενάριο, δηλαδή την πτώχευση. Σήμερα είναι σημαντικό ότι οι Έλληνες βλέπουν φως στο τούνελ και αυτό το φως είναι ευδιάκριτο. Γνωρίζουμε ότι εάν συνεχίσουμε να ακολουθούμε αυτόν τον δρόμο μας αναμένει ένα φωτεινό μέλλον. Continue reading

Christmas in Greece

Traditionally, the Christmas holiday period in Greece lasts 12 days, until January 6, which marks the celebration of the Feast of the Holy Theophany (Epiphany).
There are many customs associated with the Christmas holidays, some of which are relatively recent, “imported” from other parts of the world (like eating turkey on Christmas day and decorating the Christmas tree).
The modern Christmas tree entered Greece in the luggage of the country’s first king, Otto of Greece, who ascended to the throne in 1833 – yet, the tree did not become popular until the 1940s.
In the past, Greeks decorated small Christmas boats in honour of St. Nicholas. Today, they are increasingly choosing to decorate boats, instead of trees, reviving this age-old Christmas tradition. Undoubtedly, celebrating Christmas and New Year’s Eve in Greece is a once-in-a-lifetime experience!
Xmas: A Word of Greek Origin
Where did “Xmas” come from? Some transliterations of Greek spell Christos as “Xristos.” The “X” stood in for the first letter of the word Christ (ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ).
“Xmas” has been used for hundreds of years in religious writing, where the X represents the Greek letter X (chi). While in modern times Xmas is regarded as a kind of slang, it was originally considered to be a perfectly respectful.
Christmas (“Χριστούγεννα”), the Feast of the Nativity of Jesus is one of the most joyful days of the Greek Orthodox Church.
Christmas Elves
Greece’s hobgoblins are called “kallikántzari,” friendly but troublesome little creatures which look like elves. Kallikantzari live deep down inside the earth and come to surface only during the 12-day period from Christmas until Epiphany. While on the earth’s surface, they love to hide in houses, slipping down chimneys and frightening people in various ways.
Throughout Greece, there are customs and numerous rituals performed to keep these hobgoblins away. In Epirus, residents place twelve spindles in front of the fireplace to prevent the kalikantzari from climbing down the chimney.
On Christmas Eve, in the town of Grevena, people place a large log in the corner of the house and set it alight. As the fire burns, lasting until the Feast of the Epiphany, it protects the family from the naughty kalikantzari. On the island of Cephalonia, women burn incense at the front door of their houses making the sign of the cross in order to repel these undesirable “guests.”
The “kallikántzari” disappear on the day of Epiphany when all the waters are blessed, and they return to the earth’s core.
Sweets & Treats
Traditional culinary delights symbolise good luck in the New Year and adorn the white-clothed tables. “Melomakarona” (honey cookies) and “kourabiedes” (sugar cookies with almonds) are the most characteristic. In the past, melomakarona were made exclusively for Christmas, while kourabiedes were prepared for the New Year.
Today, this distinction is not observed anymore and both melomakarona and kourabiedes are prepared and consumed throughout the festive season.
Another traditional custom that dates back to the Byzantine times is the slicing of the Vassilopita (St.Basil’s pie or New Year Cake). The person who finds the hidden coin in his/her slice of the cake, is considered to be lucky for the rest of the year.
At the meal table there is also a special decorated round loaf called “Vasilopsomo” or St. Basil’s bread -which is really identical in form to the “Christopsomo” or “Christ bread” eaten on Christmas Day – and the “Photitsa” or “Lights’ bread” that is eaten on Epiphany.
“Kalanda” or Carols
The singing of Christmas carols (or kalanda, in Greek) is a custom which is preserved in its entirety to this day. On Christmas and New Year Eve, children go from house to house in groups of two or more singing the carols, accompanied usually by the sounds of the musical instrument “triangle,” but also guitars, accordions, lyres and harmonicas.
Until some time ago, carollers were rewarded with pastries but nowadays they are usually given money. Listen to some sound extracts with Greek Christmas carols (Kalanda) from Ikaria Island. Things to Do, Places to Go…. 
A Christmas spirit is taking over the squares and streets of the country’s major cities, as local authorities organise a variety of events and festivities, culminating with New Year’s Eve countdown parties in central squares.
Festivities in Athens revolve around Syntagma Square and its Christmas tree, with daily concerts throughout the season, while the National Garden turns into storybook Magical Forest for children.
Thessaloniki runs the country’s biggest Christmas village: the Helexpo pavilions are hosting Christmas Magic City, featuring shows, workshops and a big Christmas market.
The north-western city of Kastoria celebrates with “ragoutsaria,” the local carnival that starts on New Year’s Day, with every neighbourhood forming a carnival group, complete with brass band. In Agios Nikolaos, Crete, the New Year will come from the sea, with the New Year’s Eve party at the port, and Santa arriving on a boat.
And Holiday Performances
Venues and clubs participate in the Christmas spirit with special holiday performances.
The National Opera’s Christmas rich programme includes the Snow Queen ballet and Hansel and Gretel opera for children.
The Athens Concert Hall hosts the Bolshoi Theatre Academy on December 22-29, in a much-awaited performance of the Nutcracker, and the London Community Gospel Choir on December 27-28.
The recently inaugurated Onassis Cultural Centre presents Jean-Baptiste Thiérrée and Victoria Chaplin in their phantasmagoric yet poetic Invisible Circus, on December 28-30 and January 1-2.
At the Michael Cacoyannis Foundation, on December 27 & 28, the Sounds of Christmas Go Baroque: a festive concert featuring Baroque Concertos.
(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)

Farewell to a great philhellene

Jacqueline de Romilly, a distinguished French academic and great philhellene, died on December 18 at the age of 97. De Romilly was a classical scholar who specialised in the civilisation and language of ancient Greece, and had been the second woman to be elected member of the prestigious French Academy.
In 1995, the Greek state bestowed honorary Greek Citizenship upon De Romilly. In 2000, she was named ambassador of Hellenism, and became a foreign guest member of the Athens Academy. As a scholar, she was known for her works on ancient Greek literature, and thought, especially on the historian Thucydides and Pericles’ Classical Athens.
“The life and work of Jacqueline de Romilly are bathed in the light that comes from the sources of the highest civilisation – the Greek civilisation, the flame of which lived with her till her last breath” said French President Nicolas Sarkozy, while Prime Minister George Papandreou praised de Romilly for honouring Greek thought and for devoting herself to the promotion of Greek literature and arts.
You Tube: Jacqueline de Romilly – La Vigie Grecque
(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)

Local Elections Run-off

Following the second round of local elections yesterday, the ruling PASOK party won the majority of regional governorships (8 to 5).
In municipal elections and -despite a high abstention rate- there was a change of leadership in the three major cities.
In Athens, Giorgos Kaminis, the former Ombudsman, won the mayorship, with the support of Pasok, after defeating the incumbent New Democracy (ND) mayor, Nikitas Kaklamanis.
In Thessaloniki, Greece’s second largest city, the independent Yiannis Boutaris, supported by Pasok, defeated ND-backed candidate Costas Gioulekas, while in Pireus, Vassilis Michaloliakos, supported by ND defeated Pasok candidate Yiannis Michas.
Commenting on the results, Prime Minister George Papandreou said that the citizens “rejected the sirens of destabilisation and gave the government a clear three years of work to enable it to continue the effort for the country’s salvation and recovery.”
The premier also called on all political parties to “assume responsibility” and work together with the aim of saving the country. Main opposition New Democracy (ND) party leader Antonis Samaras said that “the second round confirmed the political conclusions of the first Sunday” and gave the opportunity to his party to emerge “renewed, strong and responsible.”
For more information: Ministry of Interior, Decentralization and E-Government: Regional & Municipal Elections 2010 Results (in Greek); Kathimerini Daily: Pasok gets regional upper hand; YouTube: PM’s nationwide televised press statement (in Greek)
(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)

PM George Papandreou & the Media

Prime Minister George Papandreou addressed yesterday the NewsXchange 2010 Conference currently being held in Athens.
In his speech, the premier commended the role of media in highlighting several of the underlying causes of the financial crisis but also pointed to some of the negative stereotypes that resurfaced in of the international media’s reporting on Greece, during this last year.
“Your job is to report the facts as objectively as possible. My job is to be honest with you, with the Greek people, and of course with the international community, which is supporting us in this effort to deal with the crisis, present the facts as they are,” stressed the premier.
Youtube.com: PM’s Speech at NewsXchange 2010 Conference  
(Greek News Agenda)

Acropolis Museum receives British award

The Acropolis Museum in Athens (see Photo Gallery) has won the British Guild of Travel Writers (BGTW) prestigious global award for the Best Worldwide Tourism Project for 2010.
The prize was presented to Deputy Culture and Tourism Minister George Nikitiades, during a ceremony in London on November 7.
Nikitiades thanked the organizers and the travel writers who voted for the Acropolis Museum, noting that this distinction opens the door for the return of the Parthenon Marbles to their home.
Nikitiades is currently in London with a Greek National Tourism Organisation delegation to participate at the World Travel Market fair, taking place from November 8 to 11.
Greek News Agenda (29.10.2010) Acropolis Museum: Best Overseas Tourism Project

Αγώνες Special Olympics στην Πολωνία (18-24/9/2010)-Ελληνική συμμετοχή

Από τις 18 ως τις 24 Σεπτεμβρίου πραγματοποιήθηκαν στη Βαρσοβία οι Ευρωπαϊκοί Αγώνες Special Olympics, με την συμμετοχή 1.600 αθλητών από 57 χώρες της Ευρώπης και της Ευρασίας.
Στους αγώνες συμμετείχε και ελληνική αποστολή 86 αθλητών, δηλώνοντας με την παρουσία της – πέρα από το μήνυμα της αποδοχής της διαφορετικότητας και της ενθάρρυνσης της συμμετοχής ατόμων με διανοητική αναπηρία σε κοινωνικές και αθλητικές δραστηριότητες – την ενεργό προετοιμασία της Ελλάδας για τους επόμενους Παγκόσμιους Αγώνες Special Olympics (XIII Special Olympics World Summer Games) που θα πραγματοποιηθούν στην Αθήνα το καλοκαίρι του 2011.
Στην τελετή έναρξης των Αγώνων Special Olympics στις 18 Σεπτεμβρίου, παρευρέθηκε και ο έλληνας ευρωβουλευτής Γιώργος Σταυρακάκης, ο οποίος σημείωσε ότι η «Φλόγα της Ελπίδας» μετά την αφή της στην Αλεξανδρούπολη στις 5 Σεπτεμβρίου ταξίδεψε  σε οκτώ ευρωπαϊκές πόλεις για να φθάσει τελικά στη Βαρσοβία για την τελετή έναρξης των Αγώνων.
Ο κ. Σταυρακάκης υπογράμμισε την σημασία των Αγώνων Special Olympics ως το μεγαλύτερο αθλητικό γεγονός για άτομα με διανοητικές δυσκολίες, τονίζοντας την αναγκαιότητα στήριξης –και μέσω του Ευρωπαϊκού Κοινοβουλίου- των προσεχών Παγκόσμιων Αγώνων Special Olympics στην Αθήνα, που στόχο έχουν όχι μόνο να ενισχύσουν περαιτέρω τα ολυμπιακά ιδεώδη της άμιλλας και του εθελοντισμού, αλλά και να βοηθήσουν στην ένταξη στο κοινωνικό σύνολο περιθωριοποιημένων ανθρώπων, καθώς και στην κοινωνική συνοχή.

Warsaw European Special Olympics – Multi-Medal Greek Team

The Greek Special Olympics Team brought home a total of thirty-four medals from the Warsaw European Special Olympics: eleven gold, twelve silver and eleven bronze.
Alexandros Stoupakis was the multi-winner of the event, with a total of four golden medals in weight-lifting. The athletics team performed exceptionally well with a gain of nine medals, including the fastest woman’s in the games, Niki Talamaga’s gold medal in the 100 m. event.
Next big date: the Athens 2011 Special Olympics.
(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)

Poems on the Underground – Greek contemporary poetry

The Press Office of the Greek Embassy in Warsaw promotes the contemporary poetry of Greece and participates to   “Poems on the Underground” events (6-30 September 2010).
“Poems on the Underground” (Wiersze w Metrze) has been inspired by other similar projects  in many cities: Dublin, Paris, New York, Barcelona, Stockholm, Stuttgard and Moscow, organised for the first time in London in 1986.
Wiersze w Metrze promotes contemporary European poetry in public city spaces, through happenings, haiku competition, poetry city game and a performing poetry festival.
Many cultural institutes and embassies participate to the project, which takes place under the auspices of the the mayor of Warsaw, Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz.
Greek contemporary poetry will be represented by two acclaimed poets, Kiki Dimoula and Nasos Vagenas.
Kiki Dimoula has recently been awarded the European Literature Prize for 2010. Her poetry has been translated into English, French, German, Swedish, Danish, Spanish and many other languages.
Dimoula’s poetry is haunted by the existential dissolution of the post-world era. Her central themes are hopelessness, insecurity, absence and oblivion. Using diverse subjects and twisting grammar in unconventional ways, she accentuates the power of the words through astonishment and surprise, but always manages to retain a sense of hope.
Nasos Vagenas, professor of Theory and Critique of Literature in the Department of Theatre Studies of the University of Athens, in 2005 was awarded with the State Poetry Prize for his poetic collection ‘Stefanos’.
His poetic work includes the books: ‘Field of Mars’, ‘Biography’, ‘Roxani’s Knees’, ‘Wandering of a non-traveller’, ‘The Fall of the Flying’, ‘Barbarous Odes’ , ‘The Fall of the Flying B’, ‘Dark Ballads and Other Poems’, ‘Stefanos’.
His poetry has been translated into English, German, Italian, Dutch, Romanian, Serbian.
Two poems of Kiki Dimoula and Nasos Vagenas have been translated in polish language for “Wiersze w Metrze” by the professors and students of the Department of Greek Studies of the University of Warsaw (Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies “Artes Liberales”).

Enjoy a Movie under the stars in Athens

The arrival of summer in Athens is a big event: the high temperatures and the sweet climate just won’t let anyone stay at home. One of the most popular summer activities of the Athenians, as for back as the early ’50s, is the open-air cinema tradition.
Catching a movie in an open-air cinema means that winter is gone for good. Athens is home of more than 30 open-air cinemas, located on terraces, and gardens or jammed between apartment blocks. “Zefyros” in the beautiful Athenian neighborhood of Petralona, “Thission” in Dionysiou Aeropagitou pedestrian precinct or “Vox”” on a terrace in Exarchia square to name but a few.
The movies that are usually projected are reruns of first-run films from the winter period and remakes of famous classical movies.Watching movies under the starry sky, while enjoying your cold drink is a unique experience and the best choice for the warm summer nights in the city.
(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)