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Cultural ties with Georgia

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA) The Institute of Classical, Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies of the Tbilisi State University has undertaken the initiative to compile the first Modern Greek-Georgian Dictionary, containing 50,000 words. The project was funded by the Kostas and Eleni Ourani Foundation

The Greek element has been present in Georgia since antiquity. The first trips had commercial purpose and within years, the first cultural enclaves were established.
The two early Georgian kingdoms of late antiquity were known to ancient Greeks as Iberia in the east and Colchis in the West.
The Western part was strongly influenced by Greek culture – as evidenced in Greek mythology and the story of Jason seeking the Golden Fleece in Colchis – and the eastern part by the Persians.
Greeks in Georgia established ties with the Byzantine Empire, building on a common religious background.
Until recently (1989), the Greek community in Georgia counted some 100,000 residents, but nowadays the population totals between 15,000- 20,000. 
Ministry of Foreign Affairs: Greeks in Georgia; Photo: “The Argonauts”, a publication by the Institute of Classical, Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies of the Tbilisi State University.

Argonauts Revived

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)   A replica of the legendary ship “Argo” which, in ancient mythology carried Jason and his Argonauts in the quest of the Golden Fleece in Colchis, (now city of Poti, on Georgia’s Black Sea coast) reached Poti on June 19.  3,500 years after the first sail from ancient Iolkos (now city of Volos) -according to the myth-, the 50 modern Argonauts reached Georgia anew, this time not to recover the Golden Fleece but to convey messages of hope and peace in a region much troubled.  ‘Argo’ and the Greek delegation were received by President Mikheil Saakashvili.  The reception was followed by the inauguration of a new museum for the Argonaut expedition. An archaeological conference was also held in the city of Batumi.  The modern ‘Argo’ is a reconstruction of an ancient Greek ‘penteconter’ with a ram, a single tier of oarsmen, and a single sail made of half-cured wood cut from forest timber.  It belongs to the same family of Homer’s long ships and later ram-equipped warships of antiquity. The modern ‘Argo’ took over six years to complete, with the use of Bronze Age tools only.  

Bakoyannis at OSCE Parliamentary Assembly

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)  Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis visited Lithuania on June 30, on the occasion of the 18the annual session of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly.   Speaking before the Assembly, Bakoyannis focused on three issues: the need to take the OSCE forward in the economic and environmental dimension; the objective of building lasting stability and security in Georgia; the process of launching a new high-level dialogue on European security.  In Lithuania, Bakoyannis also held bilateral talks with the political leadership of the country (photo), who expressed support for the “Corfu Process” launched last weekend. The minister will visit two of the OSCE’s most important missions in Baku and Yerevan today.

Greek PM Meets with Outgoing NATO Secretary General

karamsceff(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)   Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis met on Thursday (May 14) in Athens with the outgoing NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer.  Pointing out that during Scheffer’s term the alliance was enlarged twice, while in the field of operations NATO was called to meet very demanding challenges, Karamanlis praised the efforts to promote the Alliance’s relations with Russia as well as the progress made in relation to Ukraine and Georgia and the countries of the ‘Partnership for Peace’, the ‘Mediterranean Dialogue’ and the ‘Istanbul Initiative.’  On his part, the NATO SecGen stressed that “Greece’s participation in NATO’s operations and missions was and still is very important.” He also referred to energy and internet security issues as well as to the participation of Greek Navy frigates in the efforts to combat sea piracy.  De Hoop Scheffer also met with Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis and National Defence Minister Evangelos Meimarakis.

OSCE Mandate in Georgia Extended

GREEK NEWS AGENDA)   The 56 participating states in the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), agreed yesterday in Vienna to extend the presence of the Organization’s unarmed military monitoring officers in Georgia until June 30. Chairperson-in-Office, Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis, welcomed the move, saying: “This decision to extend the mandate of the OSCE monitors shows that all states agree that the Organization is a critical part of international efforts to secure lasting stability in the region.  I am confident that we can build on this consensus to ensure that the OSCE will be able to continue its important work for all peoples in the region and help to address urgent humanitarian challenges.”

Greece: News from Moscow

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)   Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis and her Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov met in Moscow on Wednesday and held talks. The greater part of the meting was devoted to Greece’s proposal for finding a compromise solution that would allow OSCE observers to remain in Georgia and South Ossetia. “The proposals of the (Greek) presidency are realistic both de facto and de jure and we are ready to help promote them,” said Lavrov later during a joint press conference.  Following their meeting, the Russian foreign ministry issued a statement saying that “Russia hails the priorities of the Greek presidency of the OSCE in 2009.”The Russian side evaluated positively the priorities set by Greece for the OSCE’s activities in 2009 and hailed the intention of the Greek presidency to organise a special ministerial meeting to continue discussion on the security problems in the and ways of resolving them,” the statement adds. The two ministers continued their talks over lunch, during which they tackled issues of bilateral interest, such as cooperation in the energy, tourism and trade sectors. Chairmanship of Greece at the OSCE: www.osce.org/cio; Ministry of Foreign Affairs: Greece-Russia Bilateral Relations

OSCE in Motion / Greek FM’s visit to Russia

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)       Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis is visiting Russia in her capacity as OSCE Chairperson. The visit to Moscow is the minister’s first visit abroad representing the OSCE. Yesterday, the Russian news agency Itar-Tass published an interview with the foreign minister. Bakoyannis took the opportunity to underscore Greece’s steadfast determination to facilitate the negotiation process for a new cooperation agreement between Russia and the European Union.  Referring to Greece’s bilateral relations with Russia, the Minister stressed that “undoubtedly, Greece’s strong ties with Russia which have endured throughout the years, are bearing fruit and recently, they benefit from a new impetus which is mirrored on the number of bilateral official visits and close cooperation in fields such as energy, constructions, high tech industry and tourism.” Chairmanship of Greece at the OSCE: www.osce.org/cio; Ministry of Foreign Affairs: Greece-Russia Bilateral Relations   

Economic and Environmental Forum

As part of the OSCE Conferences, the 17th Economic and Environmental Forum (Part I) was held in Vienna, in January 19-20. The forum addressed the issue of migration and its ties to economic, social and environmental policies. Representing Greece, Secretary General for International Economic Relations and Development Cooperation, Theodoros Skylakakis emphasised interstate cooperation in the migration management sector and the combating of human trafficking networks. Linking climate change to migration, he further reiterated the Greek chairmanship’s aim to highlight OSCE’s environmental prospective, pursuing the idea of a “greener OSCE.”

OSCE Greek Chairmanship Gears Up for Interesting Times

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)    Strengthening the role of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in early warning, prevention and management of conflicts and crises will be a prime pursuit of the OSCE Greek Chairmanship, said Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis in an interview with the organisation’s magazine. Although the events in Georgia in the summer of 2008 had “shattered longstanding perceptions regarding security in the region”, Bakoyannis stresses that the crisis could serve as a springboard for a broader discussion of new and comprehensive security architecture in Europe, with the OSCE providing “a pretty good table” for this discussion. OSCE Magazine, December 2008: Interview with the incoming Chairperson-in-Office, Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis of Greece  Ministry of Foreign Affairs: Greece @ OSCEFM Bakoyannis’ statement in acceptance of the Greek Chairmanship of the OSCE for 2009; Bakoyannis’ opening speech at the Ambassadors’ Forum (13.11.2008): “OSCE – The 2009 Greek Chairmanship-in-Office: Challenges and Priorities”

Greece at EU Summit

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)   Participating in yesterday’s European Union’s summit, Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis stressed that force is no solution and pointed out EU’s important role in achieving a ceasefire and a peaceful settlement in the Caucasus region. Karamanlis expressed satisfaction over the six-point agreement reached on August 12 and agreed on the need for its full implementation. Once again, the Prime Minister clarified that respect for the territorial integrity of countries and for their national sovereignty is of paramount importance to the Greek foreign policy and greeted the prospect of enhanced European presence in the troubled area.  Regarding EU’s relations with Russia, Karamanlis announced that the Council has “agreed that Russia is an important partner for Europe” and that strong relations between Moscow and the EU must be maintained. In the future, Greece will continue to monitor the developments occurring in the region and to contribute to the cause offering humanitarian aid and protecting ethnic Greeks, if needed. Kathimerini daily: PM calls for Georgia peace settlement; Athens News Agency: PM Karamanlis says at EU summit force is no solution European Council: Extraordinary European Council meeting on the situation in Georgia; Greek News Agenda: Responding to the Caucasus crisis

Greece: Responding to the Caucasus Crisis

(GREEK  NEWS AGENDA)           From the first moment, the crisis in Caucasus has been of great concern to Greece. A precautionary activation of the Crisis Management Unit was deemed necessary in order to tackle the problems which have arisen from the clashes in South Ossetia and make provision for the citizens of Greek origin residing in the area. Within this framework, Greece dispatched a humanitarian aid shipment to Georgia and contributed to the cause of relieving the turbulent area with 100,000€ through the UNHCR. The OSCE, which has also addressed the matter, decided to send 20 international observers and Greece, -in viewof holding 2009’s chairmanship– is ready to assume full responsibility arising in the light of the current developments.  During the extraordinary meeting of the 26 NATO members which took place on August 19 in Brussels, Foreign Affairs Minister Dora Bakoyannis stated that “the NATO-Russia dialogue is very important” and that “Greece-along with many other countries-has been in favour of the continuation of this dialogue at all levels”.  South Ossetia and Abkhazia’s recent succession movement from Georgia has prompted an expedient reaction of the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Bakoyannis clarified that within both the NATO Council and the Council of the European Union, Greece’s foreign policy abides to the principles of territorial integrity and added that Greece endorses the French presidency’s statement condemning the movement.  Today, Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis and Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis will participate in the European Union’s special summit on the Caucasus crisis. Moscow’s relations with the international community are expected to top the summit’s agenda. Before leaving for Brussels, Bakoyannis reiterated Greece’s interest for “a common European position regarding the framework of EU-Russia relations”, “given that Moscow is an ‘important partner’ for Europe”.

Greek Mythology Revived

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)     A replica of the legendary ship “Argo” which, in ancient mythology carried Jason and his Argonauts to recover the Golden Fleece from Colchis, (now city of Poti, on Georgia’s Black Sea coast) received a joyful send-off in the port of Volos (contemporary name of Iolkos, the original departure point) on June 14. With the help of its 50 oarsmen, it set sail for its journey to Venice where, after travelling some 10-15 nautical miles per day, it was expected to arrive on August 12. The modern ‘Argo’ is a reconstruction of an ancient Greek ‘penteconter’ with a ram, a single tier of oarsmen, and a single sail made of half-cured wood cut from forest timber. It belongs to the same family of Homer’s long ships and later ram-equipped warships of antiquity. The modern ‘Argo’ took over six years to complete, with the use of Bronze Age tools only. On its way to Venice, the ‘Argo’ will stop at 37 ports. During many of these stops, its arrival will be marked by various cultural events. The ‘Argo’ flies the flags of the countries it will visit: Greece, Albania, Croatia, Slovenia and Italy. World Media Reports – Google: Ancient Greek ship ‘Argo’ sets sail once again 

From Greece the Routes of the Olive Tree

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)    On the occasion of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, a “lame of Peace”will travel from the Mediterranean Sea into the depths of Asia, Beijing and Moscow. Motorcyclists participating in the “Routes of the Olive Tree” initiative, a programme of cultural journeys and activities inspired by the olive tree,  will ride on the “Routes of Silk” to transmit the messages symbolised by the olive tree, namely the need for peaceful coexistence. The journey will start from Messenia, Southern Greece, on the occasion of a big Mediterranean Feast, the 63rd Rally FIM of 2008 (7-14 July 2008 Pylos-Yalova), during which 2,000 motorcyclists from 44 countries will gather in order to bid travellers goodbye. The event is open only to motorcyclists who will “combine business with pleasure”; they will start their ride symbolically from ancient Messene and will cover 22,000 km with a view to carrying the “Flame of Peace” to 16 countries: Turkey, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, CHINA, Mongolia, Russia, Ukraine, Moldavia, Romania, Bulgaria, FYROM and Greece.  Continue reading

The Greek Language, Ancient & Modern

 (GREEK NEWS AGENDA)   The Greek Language is one of the earliest attested Indo-European languages, spoken today by approximately 12 million people in Greece, Cyprus, Albania, Bulgaria, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Italy, Turkey, Armenia, Georgia, Ukraine, Moldova, Romania, Russia, Egypt, Jordan and in emigrant communities around the world, including Australia, United States, Canada, Germany and elsewhere. Continue reading