Greek Cypriot side taking a ‘discreet stance’ on talks


Greek Cypriot side taking a ‘discreet stance’ on talks

THE GOVERNMENT yesterday called for “moderation” in comments on the Cyprus problem after a number of politicians cried foul over recent Turkish Cypriot contacts with the US government in Washington.

President Nicos Anastasiades yesterday chaired a meeting of the National Council to brief parties on the meetings of the two negotiators in the peace process this last month, as well as their parallel visits to Athens and Ankara. He also discussed the EU’s positions on the Ukraine crisis, and his recent phone conversation with US Vice President Joe Biden.

Asked by reporters why more was being heard from the Turkish Cypriots about the negotiations than the Greek Cypriots, government spokesman Christos Stylianides said the Greek Cypriot side would not negotiate in public, because this was not in the national interest.

“The president will provide a comprehensive briefing to the people of Cyprus when he has something specific to say. After all we just started. We are not close to a solution of the Cyprus problem, but at the beginning of a tough negotiation,” he said.

The majority of party leaders came out of the meeting at the Presidential Palace bemoaning continued Turkish intransigence, while crying foul over the recent visit of Turkish Cypriot ‘foreign minister’ Ozdil Nami with White House staff.

Asked to comment, Stylianides said: “As the government, which is responsible for the negotiations, we will wait to see how things develop at the negotiating table.”

Asked whether Nami’s US visit represented an upgrade of the breakaway regime, the spokesman said these visits needed to be viewed through a historical lens.

“We have all lived through, unfortunately, after 2004, the upgrading of the Turkish Cypriot community worldwide,” he said, referring to former Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat’s meeting at the State Department, and other high-level EU meetings.

“Let’s compare and see if anything has changed now. I would say now it’s better because they take place in a more discreet way,” he added.

The spokesman noted he wouldn’t even need to refer to these issues “if there was more moderation, which is needed from all of us right now. Moderation is not a weakness, it is a strategic strength and should not be construed by anyone as weakness. It is confidence in one’s arguments and views. So let’s not be afraid of moderation”.

He also called on the media to assist in the peace process and not resort to gossip. “The Cyprus problem cannot be a toy in the hands of publicity.”

Coming out of the meeting, opposition AKEL leader Andros Kyprianou said it appeared there remains a big gap in the positions of the two sides in the negotiations.

He called for consensus and collective action among the Greek Cypriot leadership to achieve the most possible in the talks, as opposed to engaging in intense public rows.

AKEL, apart from ruling DISY, was the only party which gave its support to the joint declaration of Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu on February 11, which paved the way for the resumption of talks.

Now that the talks have started, said the opposition leader, different opinions should be expressed in a constructive way so as to help the president in his difficult task.

DIKO leader Nicolas Papadopoulos said the president’s policy of making “generous offers” and playing the “good child” has brought negative consequences, such as a negative resolution passed in the European Parliament on Wednesday, the upgrading of the breakaway regime despite continued Turkish intransigence, and violations of Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ) by Turkey.

Despite disagreeing radically with the president’s policy, Papadopoulos said his party was ready to offer support to the president’s efforts to strengthen his negotiating position.

EDEK leader Yiannakis Omirou also argued that the Turkish side has not budged from its known positions, and warned of the dangers of enhanced status given to the breakaway regime.

Greens leader Giorgos Perdikis said the Greek Cypriots need to convince the international community that they want a solution as soon as possible, adding that it is the Turks that remain intransigent, “sticking to the same extreme confederal positions and partitionist proposals”.

EVROKO leader Demetris Syllouris said Turkey’s diplomatic activity and actions in Cyprus’ EEZ do not show good will for a solution.

According to sources, Anastasiades also briefed political leaders that during his phone talk with Biden, he asked the US Vice President to intercede with Turkey so that the latter refrains from harassing offshore gas drilling in Cypriot waters.

To date the Turkish navy has not impeded or harassed any vessels prospecting in Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone.

But Turkey has dispatched the Barbaros, a seismic research ship, in waters west of the island. There were also reports in the past week that the Barbaros was being shadowed by a Turkish military vessel.

Previously, Anastasiades had warned he would abandon peace talks in the event of Turkish “provocation” in the EEZ.

Coming out of the National Council meet, DISY leader Averof Neofytou told reporters that no violation of Cypriot sovereign territory had occurred forcing the President to make good on his pledge to walk out of peace negotiations.

Turkish vessels were operating in international waters, he said, and in any case there is nothing prohibiting a ship of any country to pass through another country’s EEZ.

What would constitute a violation, added Neofytou, would be any attempt to obstruct gas drilling in one of Cyprus’ offshore blocks.

Frankston Seagull Greek Taverna stalwart Nick Karageorgopoulos hangs up his apron


Nick Karageorgopoulos and Tan Terry. Picture: Martin Reddy

Nick Karageorgopoulos and Tan Terry. Picture: Martin Reddy Source: News Limited

AFTER 29 years serving saganaki and other Greek specialties to his many customers, Nick Karageorgopoulos, the face of Seagull Greek Taverna in Frankston, is hanging up the apron.

And after that, there will be no cooking — not even in the home kitchen — for the man who has made his life satisfying the appetites of thousands of diners with dishes such as grilled mussels and lamb on the spit.

Instead, he’ll drink, go fishing for whiting and snapper in his friend’s boat and take holidays with his wife.

While he will be glad to leave the cooking behind — he has spent up to 11 hours a day in the kitchen — there are aspects of the business he will miss.

Seagull Greek Taverna has been a Frankston institution for 30 years. Picture: Martin Redd

Seagull Greek Taverna has been a Frankston institution for 30 years. Picture: Martin Reddy Source: News Limited

His customers, the majority of them regulars who have continued to return and whose food preferences he files in his memory, are an obvious example.

Among them are Jeff and Rita, who share the seafood and meat platter; Michelle, who has stuck to prawn saganaki since 1985; and Brian, who “goes for fish all the time and he pinches salsa from his wife”.

“I make really good friends over the years,” Mr Karageorgopoulos said.

“In the early days I used to do 120 to 130 people on Fridays and Saturdays. In the late ‘80s and early ‘90s you have to book at least two to three weeks in advance for the weekend.”

He retires at Easter, but until then Mr Karageorgopoulos will be mentoring the restaurant’s new owner, Kiwi Tan Terry — a former roofing plumber, passing on his craft, wisdom and knowledge.

In a deal struck over a glass of Scotch, Mr Karageorgopoulos agreed to hand over the tongs on the condition that Mr Terry continue to serve Greek cuisine.

For a man who hadn’t eaten at a Greek restaurant before he stepped into the Seagull, it is a daunting prospect, but one he is taking up with gusto, knowing he is learning from a master.

“Nick does everything. I call him Superman at times,” he said.

Ancient Greek Tombstones Served as Therapy


View Caption +#1: Can You Detect a Forgery?
View Caption +#2: Trilobite Fossil: FAKE
View Caption +#3: Trilobite Fossil: AUTHENTIC
View Caption +#4: Relief of a Pharaoh: FAKE
View Caption +#5: Relief of a Pharaoh: AUTHENTIC
View Caption +#6: Gold Nugget: FAKE
View Caption +#7: Gold Nuggets: AUTHENTIC
View Caption +#8: Goddess Figurine: FAKE
View Caption +#9: Goddess Figurine: AUTHENTIC
View Caption +#10: Woman Figurine: FAKE
View Caption +#11: Woman Figurine: AUTHENTIC
View Caption +#12: Urn: FAKE
View Caption +#13: Urn: AUTHENTIC
View Caption +#14: Chinese Mirror: FAKE
View Caption +#15: Chinese Mirror: AUTHENTIC
View Caption +#16: Jade Cicada: FAKE?
View Caption +#17: Jade Cicada: AUTHENTIC

Earliest Masks Uncovered: Photos

Greek tombstones were not just commemorative markers, but served as therapy for the bereaved, says a study on images and epitaphs found on 2,300-year-old gravestones.

The research examined 245 grave reliefs from the Greek city-states of Smyrna and Kyzikos in present-day Turkey.

Dating to the Hellenistic period (323-31 B.C.), when production of funerary reliefs was at its height in western Asia Minor, the rather expensive tombstones probably belonged to the equivalent of middle class individuals.

According to Sandra Karlsson, a doctoral student at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, the rarely investigated sepulchral imagery can offer precious insights about funerary rituals, demographics, and family structures. Most of all, the reliefs reflect people’s way of relating to death.

“In classical antiquity there were strict conventions for grieving for the dead, based on the belief that death is not an evil and hence not a reason for sorrow,” Karlsson wrote in her doctoral thesis in classical archaeology and ancient history.

However, in the Hellenistic age artists had a more naturalistic approach and tended to represent emotional expressions in sculpture and funerary art.

“The emotional semiotics that confronts us ranges in content from solemn expressions of introspective mourning in the case of Smyrna to more explicit outpourings of grief in the case of Kyzikos,” Karlsson said.

In this view, the tombstones became a place of interaction between the living and the dead and served as “visual therapy” for the bereaved.

“Viewed through the experience of the mourner, the images fulfilled a soothing and consoling function, preserving and enhancing the memory of the deceased,” Karlsson said.

For example, the dead were often portrayed as standing next to their grave markers, indicating they were happily existing in the underworld.

Servants and family members were also represented with the dead. But while relatives were lined up next to each other like statues, servants performed various gestures signifying mourning and grief. For example, they sat on the ground or touched their chin with one hand.

“Social conventions encouraged individuals of lower standing to mourn,” Karlsson said.

On the contrary, people with higher status were less likely to express grief.

By analyzing the tombstones, Karlsson noted that untimely death was a recurrent theme in both reliefs and epitaphs.

“I found the strongest expressions of grief for deceased children and adolescents,” she said. She noted that children were often depicted holding grapes, a symbol of eternal life.

“The grapes’ presence might be imbued with hopes for a continued existence after death; surely a comforting reminder for a grieving family member,” Karlsson said.

A desire for more personal expressions often emerged in tombstones for children, revealing touching epitaphs and images of boys and girls playing with their toys and pets, mostly birds and Maltese dogs.

“Kind of like modern obituaries where the cross is often replaced with more personal symbols like a heart or a football. Or by posting a photograph of the person on the tombstone,” Karlsson concluded.

Image: Tombstone from Smyrna. The small boy to the left is sitting on a grave monument and holding a rattle in his right hand, while another curly haired boy is holding a bunch of grapes above a small dog. On the right, in front of a pillar, is a mourning a servant boy with his right hand on his chin. Credit: University of Gothenburg.

Stavros Theodorakis’s ‘river’ party aims to get Greek politics flowing in the right direction


Stavros Theodorakis

Stavros Theodorakis’s Potami ‘aims to be a movement that includes people from all walks of life [that addresses] the deficit of real-life experience in politics’. Photograph: Aristidis Vafeiadakis/ZUMA Press/Corbis

The word on everyone’s lips in Greece is “Potami”. It is the name of a new party, or movement to be more accurate, created by the respected journalist Stavros Theodorakis barely two weeks ago and already polling around a staggering 6% in national surveys. It means “river” because its founder hopes that many will be able to join it, add their creative waters to its flow and that, like a river, it will stir up – but also bring clarity and vitality to – what he sees as the stagnant pool of established party politics.

I meet Stavros (he insists on everyone calling him by his first name) in the offices of his new party – a first-floor apartment in an inconspicuous block of flats in a residential part of Athens, converted to provide a working space. “Come in,” he says, adding that “it’s all suddenly got very busy.” Well, yes, if you decide to start a party from scratch and put it in the hat for the European elections in two months’ time, I imagine it would. “What do you want from me?” he asks with a friendly directness, which has become the trademark of his investigative television programme Protagonists over the years. “I’m not doing interviews yet.” So we settle on this being a coffee and a chat instead.

How does he respond to the charge levelled by some that, despite good intentions and an admirable start, Potami doesn’t have a coherent and sound ideological basis? “We don’t,” he agrees proudly. While it is clear that his sensibilities are centre-left, he considers rigid ideology a hindrance. “Everyone wears their party specs,” he explains, “and sees the world with a red or blue or green tinge.” He thinks this brings a lack of clarity, that such labels act to segregate politicians and make finding solutions to practical problems more difficult. “Even the way they sit in parliament is silly – in blocks of party MPs, all putting on a uniformly approving or disapproving expression depending on who is talking.” He asks: “Why shouldn’t I sit next to an opponent so we can discuss an issue and try to convince each other or a colleague from another party with whom we might have common ground?”

He considers a rigid party system a disadvantage, rigged to facilitate not listening to each other or the electorate. This is one of the reasons Potami is not putting forward any candidates for the municipal and regional elections that are also happening in May. “What do I know of local issues in, say, Crete, to try and impose an overall, national strategy?” So why start at the European elections? “It’s cheap,” he responds with a smile – there is that disarming honesty again. He is not standing in the European elections himself. Refreshingly (and rarely for a politician, even one as new to the game as he is), he doesn’t consider himself qualified. His English is not good enough, he says.

Potami aims to be a movement that includes people from all walks of life – doctors, builders, architects, students, intellectuals, employed or unemployed. The credo at the core of its existence is to address the deficit of real-life experience in politics. We talk some more about the party system and his belief that it promotes a closed shop of career politicians. The right is laden by nepotism, dominated by particular families with respectable surnames, by privilege and by connection. The left has similar problems because it rewards people who have been loyal to the party (or the union) by promoting from within. In both cases, according to Theodorakis, the end result is that the candidates put forward have a CV packed with political experience but little else to recommend them. The motto at Potami is “politics for all”.

Theodorakis is to be enthusiastically applauded. Whatever the political limitations – and perhaps lack of polish – of what he is doing, the bottom line is that he is doing it. In a world seemingly full of citizens who are either apathetic or see themselves as passive recipients of government policy, active ownership of one’s fate and that of their nation should be encouraged. He will come under fire over the next few months without doubt. He represents a serious challenge to the status quo – and not only in a strictly Greek context.

Established parties in most mature democracies have become floppy and complacent. Their sole raison d’être is to be elected, with little idea of what that means or what they might achieve when in power. They define their policies strictly with reference to the direction in which they are in danger of losing votes, rather than the national interest or a core set of values. Imagine a pop-up party like this suddenly challenging the Ukip-obsessed Tories from the centre or Labour from the left. A measure of political unpredictability may act to keep politics honest.

Conspiracy theories are rife – in a country which is a bit of a specialist in the field – about who is behind Potami, who might be funding it, what interests it might represent. Political players and commentators alike seem prepared to countenance every possibility except one: that someone with broad appeal could just decide they are unhappy with what is on offer and do their own thing. And that it could be successful. In many ways, this simplest explanation is, politically, the most dangerously explosive and optimistic one.

Greek jobless rate hits record in Q4 despite easing recession

Source: Reuters

People wait outside a Greek Manpower Employment Organisation (OAED) office in an Athens suburb December 11, 2013. REUTERS/John Kolesidis

People wait outside a Greek Manpower Employment Organisation (OAED) office in an Athens suburb December 11, 2013.

(Reuters) – Greece’s jobless rate rose to a record 27.5 percent in the last quarter of 2013 even as the pace of economic contraction eased, remaining the highest in the euro zone, data showed on Thursday.

Unemployment is a major headache for Greece’s coalition government, which expects recovery this year after a six-year slump and is keen to show there is light at the end of the tunnel before local and European parliament elections in May.

The fourth-quarter reading brought Greece’s annual average unemployment rate to 27.3 percent in 2013, up from 24.2 percent in the previous year.

The number of Greeks without a job has more than tripled since 2008, the start of a protracted recession that wiped out about a quarter of Greece’s gross domestic product.

About 72 percent of those without work have been unemployed for more than a year and so do not qualify for unemployment benefits which have been reduced to 360 euros a month.

Those classed as long-term unemployed stood at about 43 percent of the total when the debt crisis began in late 2009.

“As expected, the quarterly data revealed a new high in the unemployment rate. On a more positive note, the improvement in a range of real activity indicators suggest unemployment is near its cyclical peak,” said Eurobank economist Platon Monokroussos.

He expects unemployment to ease in the second half of 2014.

Data showed that young Greeks aged 15-24, excluding students and military conscripts, remained the hardest hit group, with 57 percent without work.

Other data recently have pointed to green shoots in the economy. Greece’s economic sentiment index hit its highest level in more than five years in February, while retail sales rose in November for the first time since April 2010.

The government and its international lenders expect the economy to grow by 0.6 percent this year.

(Reporting by George Georgiopoulos; Additional reporting by Harry Papachristou; Editing by Catherine Evans)

Greek armies unite vs. Persian invaders


A scene from the film 300: Rise of an Empire

MANILA, Philippines – Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures present 300: Rise of an Empire, a bold new chapter in the 300 saga, hitting Philippine theaters nearly a decade after its 2006 predecessor, the Greek epic 300, took the world by storm.

Based on Frank Miller’s latest graphic novel Xerxes, and told in the breathtaking visual style of the blockbuster 300, this new chapter of the epic saga takes the action to a fresh battlefield — on the sea — as Greek general Themistokles attempts to unite all of Greece by leading the charge that will change the course of the war.

The new film pits Themistokles against the massive invading Persian forces led by mortal-turned-god Xerxes, and Artemisia, vengeful commander of the Persian navy. The action adventure stars Sullivan Stapleton (Gangster Squad) as Themistokles and Eva Green (Casino Royale) as Artemisia. Lena Headey reprises her starring role from 300 as the Spartan Queen, Gorgo; Hans Matheson (Clash of the Titans) stars as Aeskylos; David Wenham returns as Dilios; and Rodrigo Santoro stars anew as the Persian King, Xerxes.

With its unrestrained bravado and unique visual style, the original 300 forged a whole new language of filmmaking that redefined the action epic form. The trendsetting film, from then-emerging director Zack Snyder, took a historical event as interpreted by the distinct, surreal imagination of comic book author Frank Miller and gave it kinetic new life. And though the finale of 300 was nothing if not final, the saga continues in 300: Rise of an Empire, with a fresh story that explores the wider conflict unfolding across Greece that parallels King Leonidas and the 300 Spartans’ legendary stand at Thermopylae.

This time around, Snyder is producing the film, along with his fellow 300 producers Gianni Nunnari, Mark Canton, Deborah Snyder and Bernie Goldmann, and co-wrote the script with his 300 collaborator Kurt Johnstad based on Miller’s graphic novel Xerxes. “It’s more of a companion film than a sequel or prequel,” explains Zack Snyder. “This is a sea battle that took place in the same three days as Thermopylae. And with an equally significant outcome.”

On par with the visuals was maintaining the quality of the storytelling in the second chapter, even at the earliest stages of development. Producer Mark Canton notes, “We had the benefit of the amazing work that Zack, Kurt and Frank Miller did to figure out the complex detail of how we could continue 300 in an exciting and authentic way. Frank Miller was there laying it all out, then he’d pass his ideas over to Zack and Kurt, who developed a story that’s philosophical, sexy, romantic and epic in every sense of the word.”

Opening across the Philippines today, 300: Rise of an Empire is distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company.

Eurovision 2014: Τα υποψήφια τραγούδια του ελληνικού (VIDEOS)

Μία εβδομάδα απέμεινε για την ανάδειξη του τραγουδιού που θα εκπροσωπήσει την Ελλάδα στον 59ο Πανευρωπαϊκό Διαγωνισμό της Eurovision, η οποία θα πραγματοποιηθεί στην Κοπεγχάγη.

Ο Ελληνικός Τελικός, θα πραγματοποιηθεί στο πλαίσιο ειδικής βραδιάς την Τρίτη 11 Μαρτίου στο Acro Music Hall και θα μεταδοθεί απευθείας από τη Δημόσια Τηλεόραση, ενώ η πρώτη τηλεοπτική μετάδοση των υποψήφιων τραγουδιών και των συντελεστών τους, θα γίνει αύριο 5 Μαρτίου στο πλαίσιο της εκπομπής της Δημόσιας Τηλεόρασης «Επικαιρότητα» (10.00-12.00).

Τα τέσσερα υποψήφια τραγούδια που θα διαγωνιστούν στον Ελληνικό Τελικό της Eurovision παρουσιάζονται με αλφαβητική σειρά και είναι τα εξής:

«Rise up»- Freaky Fortune Feat. Riskykidd
Mουσική: Freaky Fortune, Στίχοι: Freaky Fortune -Riskykidd (Panik Records)

«Dancing Night» -Mark Angelo Feat. Josephine
Μουσική- Στίχοι: Mark F. Angelo, Thomas Karlsson, Fast Lane, Josephine Wendel, Melina Makris (Panik Records)

«Πεταλούδα στην Αθήνα» -Κρυσταλλία
Μουσική: Νίκος Αντύπας, Στίχοι: ‘Αρης Δαβαράκης (Platinum Records)

«Κανένας δεν με σταματά» -Κώστας Μαρτάκης
Μουσική- Στίχοι: Ηλίας Κόζας (Κoza Mostra) (Platinum Records)

Φέτος συμπληρώνονται 40 χρόνια από την πρώτη ελληνική συμμετοχή στη Eurovision στο Brighton της Μεγάλης Βρετανίας.

Στόχος της φετινής διοργάνωσης δεν είναι μόνο η ανάδειξη της ελληνικής συμμετοχής αλλά και ο εορτασμός των 40 ετών συμμετοχής στη Eurovision μέσα από ένα λαμπερό σόου με μεγάλες εκπλήξεις και ξεχωριστές εμφανίσεις παλαιών και νέων καλλιτεχνών.

Τη βραδιά του τελικού θα παρουσιάσουν για δεύτερη συνεχή χρονιά, η τραγουδίστρια Δέσποινα Βανδή και ο ηθοποιός- παρουσιαστής Γιώργος Καπουτζίδης, ενώ τη σκηνοθεσία υπογράφει ο Φωκάς Ευαγγελινός.

Τον εορτασμό των 40 χρόνων της ελληνικής συμμετοχής θα πλαισιώσουν τα ντουέτα των Ελπίδας & Tamta, Σοφίας Βόσσου & Demy, Καίτης Γαρμπή & Vegas, Καλομοίρας & Claydee αλλά και του Πασχάλη, της Μπέσσυς Αργυράκη, του Ρόμπερτ Ουίλιαμς, της Μαριάννας Τόλη μαζί με τις MEΛISSES.

Από την βραδιά δεν θα μπορούσαν να λείπουν οι περσινοί νικητές Koza Mostra και ο Αγάθωνας.

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