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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

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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)

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

Tourism campaign “You in Greece”

Greek tourism is about to be given an image boost – through the launch of the latest advertising campaign “You in Greece.”
The campaign aims to promote the country as an attractive tourist destination, but also provide the media with useful statistics on tourism, while shedding light on little known information regarding this year’s tourism prospects.
Visit Greece at: www.visitgreece.gr

» This Summer, We Travel to Greece
Another goal is to appeal to the Greek Diaspora to visit and promote Greece abroad.

A two-month campaign has been launched under the motto “This Summer We Travel to Greece” by the bilingual Greek-American newspaper “Greek News” addressed to the Diaspora Greeks, and philhellenes.

» 2010 Reasons to Visit Greece

The exhibition titled “2010 reasons to visit Greece” is taking place once again at London’s Harrods department store. The Secretary – General of the World Tourism Organisation, Taleb Rifai, called Greece “one of the most important destinations in the world and a point of reference for us all.”

» So Far Yet So Close

Boundaries in the Chinese market seem to be lifted one by one as increasingly more Chinese explore Greece every year.

Last year, 48 million Chinese travelled abroad but only one million visited Europe.
Chinese tour operators expect this number to increase in the future, stressing that Greece should consider capitalizing on educational tourism.
Visit Greece: “Kalimera” (Good morning)
(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)

7th Thessaloniki International Book Fair

The National Book Centre of Greece (EKEBI) and the Ministry of Culture and Tourism in collaboration with HELEXPO and the Hellenic Federation of Publishers and Booksellers are organising the 7th Thessaloniki International Book Fair (TIBF) from April 22 to 25, with “Antiquity and Us” as this year’s theme.
TIBF is the leading cultural event for books in Greece which has managed over the years to become a focal point for the book world in Greece and the wider Balkan and Mediterranean region.
Thirty countries will be represented in this year’s fair which features more than 100 events: Greek and foreign authors as guest speakers, special features, seminars and workshops.
China will be the country of honour. Over 200 Chinese (publishers, authors, artists, government representatives) will be in Thessaloniki to present China’s immense book market but also a country with a rich tradition and history.
Greek News Agenda (30.5.2008) – Special Issue: Thessaloniki – City of Culture

Greek Woman’s Allure in China

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)  For those who dream a career abroad Dr. Efstratia Zafeiriou might have something useful to contribute. Born in Greece, she completed her studies in Germany as an engineer.

Specialising in market and trend research, today Zafeiriou is responsible for a leading German car maker’s strategic development in the Chinese market.  Speaking to Greek media in the sidelines of a commemorative event marking 20 years of Thessaloniki University’s Laboratory of Heat Transfer and Environmental Engineering – 41 year-old and mother of three – Zafeiriou said she considers her studies in Greece a solid base to start from and she is thankful for the fact that German enterprises value the multicultural features of their staff.  She admits that China is another country that lends itself to rich intercultural experiences, admitting that “my Greek origin has always been a plus abroad.” 

74th Thessaloniki International Fair

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)  The 74th Thessaloniki International Trade Fair (TIF) begins on September 5 and continues until September 13. The Fair constitutes a forum vested with economic and political significance for the country, as traditionally, the Prime Minister and the leaders of major political parties address the event, heralding their intentions regarding the coming year.  Investments are the focus of the 74th TIF:  International state agencies, banks and investment organizations will inform visitors on investment opportunities around the globe. There will also be a possibility – through the Expo Partenariat programme organized by TIF- for prearranged business meetings between exhibitors and representatives from professional agencies. Moreover, immediately after the 74th TIF, a dynamic online investment market will begin operating at www.afterexpomarket.gr, providing all exhibitors and trade visitors with the opportunity to follow up on and extend their investment contacts throughout the year.   This year’s honoured country is India. Visitors to the74th TIF will have the opportunity to become acquainted with this exotic country, its magic, flavours and colours, as well as its cultural and entrepreneurial aspects. Distinguished Indian economists will be analyzing the phenomenon of ultra-fast development of Indian economy at TIF’s Business Forum, while a full range of parallel events have been planned, such as an Indian Film Festival and an Indian Food Festival, music and dance events. Secretariat General of Information, About Brand Greece: Thessaloniki, an emerging regional hub in the Balkans ; Ministry of Foreign Affairs: Bilateral relations Greece-India