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Greek President and the Olympic Flame March 29, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Events Greece, Olympic Games, Shows & Conferences.
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This evening, President of the Hellenic Republic H.E. Karolos Papoulias, will be attending a ceremony at the Athens Concert Hall to mark the beginning of an international conference by the Athens Academy’s Center for Research into Greek Folk Art, to mark its 90th anniversary.

The subject of the conference is “Traditional Music and Modern Creativity”.

Tomorrow afternoon, the President will be at the Panathenaic Stadium for the handing over of the Olympic Flame to the organizers of the Beijing Olympics.

Raising a glass to Greek wine, spirits and beer March 28, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Shows & Conferences, Wine And Spirits.
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Oenorama Wine Exhibition offers a chance to taste a large variety of Greek and foreign wines

Held every other year, leading wine exhibition Oenorama is on this weekend at the MEC Exhibition Center in Paeania. Beginning today, the ninth edition of this major exhibition unites no fewer than 170 Greek winemakers – a record number which reflects the country’s current dynamic in the wine industry.

Organized by Vinetum, Oenorama brings together more than 250 exhibitors, including producers of wine, spirits and beer as well as a viti-vinicultural exhibition until Sunday. The trade show features established as well as emerging local winemakers. Also participating in the exhibition are 15 wine and spirit importing companies.

Following the exhibition’s last edition in 2006, the “Winetasting Square” returns to Oenorama. This time round, the space will have 300 top labels on display, with detailed information on each bottle. This tasting platform will enable Greek and foreign visitors to gain a comprehensive picture of Greek wine produce.

28-03-08_greek_wine.jpg  Besides increasing local amateur and professional interest, buyers and members of the press are expected from a number of countries, including Belgium, France, Germany, Denmark, Switzerland, Estonia, the USA, Canada, Britain, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Ukraine and Slovenia. Also on the program of events, the showcasing of a grape-collecting machine which will be unveiled in Greece for the very first time, along with special tasting sessions and a lecture.

MEC Exhibition Center, 301 Lavriou Avenue, Paeania, Attica.

Related Links > www.oenorama.com

Greece lies high on EU list of poor March 28, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Living, Shows & Conferences.
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One in three Greeks does not have access to basic food and clothing, as Greece is home to the second-largest population of poor people in the European Union, on a relative basis.

Nearly 23 percent of Greeks live below the poverty line, ranking Greece in second place on the EU’s list of poorest populations. Portugal has top spot. The minimum monthly salary paid for unskilled work in Greece is 626 euros versus an EU average of 1,160 euros.

Meanwhile, the sixth forum of the World Alliance of Cities against Poverty (WACAP), being held in Athens, entered its second day yesterday.

“The forum… signals the transfer of responsibility for poverty eradication from central to local government, establishing municipalities as determinant factors of development, on both a local and national level,” said Athens Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis.

Participants in the forum, which winds up today, exchanged views on the role of local government and its increased responsibility in the development of initiatives for getting rid of poverty.

Forum on poverty in Athens March 27, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Living, Shows & Conferences.
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Six in 10 Greeks feel they could slip below the poverty line in the years to come, according to figures made public yesterday at a ceremony held to launch an international forum in Athens on fighting poverty.

The sixth forum of the World Alliance of Cities against Poverty (WACAP) was launched with more than 1,000 delegates attending from 300 cities in 100 countries.

“We can no longer continue to feign ignorance,” said Athens Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis. “We know very well that next to the world of progress, development and affluence, there exists a world that is almost totally unprotected and trapped in a deadlock. It is a world of intolerance, poverty and misery,” added the Athens Mayor.

The forum, which lasts until tomorrow, aims at fighting poverty, protecting children and providing basic services to citizens, such as clean water and a decent standard of living.

The theme of the WACAP forum in Athens is the reinforcement of local democratic government.

Athens conference told of artifacts looted March 19, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Archaeology Greece, Arts Museums, Shows & Conferences.
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Antiquities smuggling is helping to finance terror > Athens conference told of artifacts looted in war-torn regions

19-03-08_entrance_new_acropolis_museum.jpg  The entrance of the new Acropolis Museum, which this week hosted a UNESCO-organized conference on the return of antiquities to their country of origin. The fate of antiquities looted from Iraq was in the spotlight yesterday at a UNESCO-sponsored conference in Athens on the return of cultural property.

When Baghdad fell to the US-led coalition that toppled Saddam Hussein, the world watched in horror as looters ransacked the museum that housed some of the nation’s most prized treasures. Today, trafficking of stolen Iraqi antiquities is helping to finance al-Qaida in Iraq and Shiite militias, according to the US investigator who led the probe into the looting of the National Museum.

United States Marine Reserve Colonel Matthew Bogdanos, a New York assistant district attorney called up to duty shortly after 9/11, said that while kidnappings and extortion remain insurgents’ main source of funds, the link between terrorism and antiquities smuggling has become “undeniable.”

“The Taliban are using opium to finance their activities in Afghanistan,” Bogdanos told The Associated Press in an interview on the sidelines of the conference. “Well, they don’t have opium in Iraq. What they have is an almost limitless supply of antiquities. And so they’re using antiquities.”

The murky world of antiquities trafficking extends across the globe and is immensely lucrative, private collectors can pay tens of millions of dollars for the most valuable artifacts. It’s almost impossible to put an authoritative monetary value on Iraqi antiquities. But as an indication, the colonel said one piece looted from the National Museum – an 8th-century-BC Assyrian ivory carving of a lioness attacking a Nubian boy, overlaid with gold and inlaid with lapis lazuli – could sell for $100 million.

Bogdanos, 51, an amateur boxer with a master’s degree in classics who won the Bronze Star fighting in Afghanistan, said it was not until late 2004 “that we saw the use of antiquities in funding initially the Sunnis and al-Qaida in Iraq, and now the Shiite militias.”

Although security has improved dramatically in Iraq since mid-2007, the country is still violence-ridden, and it is all but impossible for Iraq’s 1,500 archaeological guards to protect the country’s more than 12,000 archaeological sites.

“Unauthorized excavations are proliferating throughout the world, especially in conflict zones,” Francoise Riviere, the assistant director-general of UNESCO’s cultural branch, said at the conference. She said UNESCO was deeply concerned about the “decimation” of Iraq’s cultural heritage. “The damage inflicted on the National Museum in Baghdad, the increasingly precarious state and the systematic pillage of sites are alarming facts which are a great challenge to the international community,” Riviere said.

Bahaa Mayah, an adviser to Iraq’s Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, told the conference that looters sometimes use heavy machinery to dig up artifacts – destroying the site while they loot. He decried a lack of cooperation among some European countries, which he refused to name, in returning trafficked goods seized from smugglers. “We are facing now, especially in Europe, tremendous difficulties in recovering our objects that are seized,” he said.

Bogdanos said smuggling networks did not appear with or after the war. “It’s a pre-existing infrastructure; looting’s been going on forever.”

But it was in the days after the fall of Baghdad in March 2003 that the National Museum was looted. The United States came under intense criticism for not protecting the museum, a treasure trove of antiquities. Bogdanos said that according to the latest inventories, a total of about 15,000 artifacts were stolen. Of those, about 4,000 have been returned to the museum, and a total of about 6,000 have been recovered.

Much of the museum’s looting was carried out by insiders and senior government officials of the time, said Bogdanos, who co-authored a book about the investigation, “Thieves of Baghdad” with William Patrick. Royalties from the book are donated to the museum. Bogdanos said not enough is being done by organizations such as UNESCO to protect Iraq’s heritage. “There’s no other way to say it. There’s a vacuum at the top,” he said.

Greek push for return of Parthenon Marbles March 18, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Archaeology Greece, Shows & Conferences, Vote For Return Greek Marbles.
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Changes in museum policies and an increase in instances of cooperation between different countries for the repatriation of looted artifacts could pave the way for the return of the Parthenon Marbles, Culture Minister Michalis Liapis told an international conference in Athens yesterday.

“More and more museums are adopting tighter ethics codes and governments are promoting cooperation, so the ideal momentum is being created for clear solutions,” Liapis told the UNESCO event at the New Acropolis Museum.

Museum officials and archaeologists gave several examples of repatriated artifacts, such as the Obelisk of Axum, returned to Ethiopia from Rome in 2005. Experts also remarked upon the increase of works being smuggled out of war zones.

Christiane Tytgat, former curator at the Royal Museums of Art and History in Brussels and director of the Netherlands Institute in Athens, said the Parthenon Marbles, currently in the British Museum, should be sent back too.“I support their return unreservedly… this is where they belong,” Tytgat said.

International conference at the New Acropolis Museum March 15, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Museums, Shows & Conferences, Vote For Return Greek Marbles.
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The place, the viewpoint and the general atmosphere of the conference on the return of cultural property for the first international meeting at the New Acropolis Museum in Athens.

15-03-08_new_acropolis_museum.jpg  The photograph is from the Greek Cultural Foundation’s leaflet ‘The New Acropolis Museum’

Nobody can stop an idea whose time has finally come. This blog has written on several occasions about how the issue of the return of the Parthenon Marbles has gone from being a national demand to an international imperative, supported by leading figures from around the world who want to see the parts of the UNESCO-listed monument reunited.

But it will take more than being in the right to get back the marbles that Thomas Bruce, the seventh earl of Elgin, dismantled, stole and took away in 1801, when Athens was under Ottoman rule. With the permission of the sultan, Lord Elgin, then the British ambassador to Constantinople, had the Parthenon friezes cut up and transported to England, where they were bought by the British government. It, in turn, donated them to the British Museum in London where they have remained since.

What was needed, as Melina Mercouri told a plenary session of UNESCO in 1982, when, as the country’s Culture Minister, she initiated her campaign for the return of the Parthenon Marbles, was “a new museum to house them,” given that the existing Acropolis Museum was already full. In order to build the Museum, Mercouri’s husband, the noted American-born French filmmaker Jules Dassin created the Melina Mercouri Foundation, to which he donated his fortune.

The state undertook the project, putting distinguished architect Dimitris Pantermalis at the helm. Renowned architect Bernard Tschumi collaborated with Greek architect Michalis Fotiadis in designing the project that is today coming to fruition opposite the Acropolis.

While the British Museum continues to insist that the Parthenon marbles should stay in the English capital where visitors from all over the world come to see them in the Duveen Gallery, its position is weakening. The upper floor of the New Acropolis Museum will showcase the surviving marbles, together with copies of those in the British Museum so as to show a complete picture of this matchless work of art.

This blog believes that they will return to their place of origin under pressure from the public and governments. One promising indication is that countries and museums around the world are starting to return works of art to the places from which they were removed due to wear, bombardment or illegal activities.

An international conference on the return of cultural property starts Monday, March 17, at the New Acropolis Museum, organized by UNESCO and the Greek Culture Ministry. It is the first in a series of international gatherings organized by UNESCO and its member states to foster awareness and provide a forum for reflection and exchanges on the issue of the return of cultural property.

Greek President Karolos Papoulias will attend the opening of the conference. Culture Minister Michalis Liapis and UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Culture Francoise Riviere will greet the participants. The event is coordinated by Vivi Vassilopoulou, the general manager of antiquities and cultural heritage at the Greek Culture Ministry.

For two days, the conference will address the issue, with examples ranging from Italy’s return of an obelisk to Ethiopia to the return by Edinburgh of Aboriginal remains to Australia. There’s a strong feeling among journalists that Elena Korka, the head of the Culture Ministry’s directorate of prehistoric and classical antiquities, will seize upon the opportunity presented by the conference to raise the issue of the Parthenon Marbles, because nothing can stop an idea whose time has come.

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