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Talat’s claims to oil laughed off > January 27, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Cyprus Oil Crisis.
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This story is really amusing! I burst into laughs when I read what was claimed! Really, it’s not a joke, he means every single word he said 🙂

Goodness sake, I need to immediately change my pants and put-on clean ones, as sh*t smells badly! Still laughing though 🙂 

Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat yesterday laid claim to a share in the possible oil and gas deposits of the island’s south eastern coast in a declaration that bemused even the conciliatory Greek Cypriot opposition.

The government dismissed the claim as laughable and unworthy of serious comment.
Talat, who heads the breakaway administration that declared itself an independent sovereign state in 1983, further warned that Turkish Cypriot exclusion from oil and gas deals would increase tensions on the island.

In an interview with the trilingual weekly newspaper Dialogue, Talat said Turkish Cypriots and Turkey had “rights over Cyprus” and no deals could go ahead without their consent.

He also said he had protested in writing to both Egypt and Lebanon, which have signed agreements with Cyprus delineating the exclusive economic zones where exploration will take place.

“Secret deals signed between Papadopoulos and the Egyptian and Lebanese governments do not bind us. We will not give up what is rightfully ours,” said Talat. “Mr Papadopoulos chooses to do everything in secret. The same thing happened when he was laundering money but one thing should be clearly understood, we are partners in everything that goes on in Cyprus and will now allow our interests to be harmed.”

He added that if Egypt and Lebanon decided to enforce the agreements “they must know that this will raise tensions”.

Talat also hinted that the issue could be a cause for war, citing comments in the past by former Trade Minister Nicos Rolandis that such a conflict could arise in this instance. “His warnings were appropriate and necessary,” said Talat, adding that if the Greek Cypriots had accepted the Annan reunification plan in 2004, the whole island could now benefit from the oil and gas possibilities.

“The motive behind the (Greek Cypriot) administration rejecting UN efforts…is to try and take the oil for itself,” said Talat.

Government spokesman Christodoulos Pashiardis said Talat’s threat that tensions would increase were “rash and laughable” and were “unworthy of attention or comment”.
“The threats of Mr Talat can have absolutely no effect and I don’t believe these countries (Egypt and Lebanon) will take them seriously,” he said.

Foreign Minister George Lillikas expressed regret that Talat had resorted to threats, not only to the Greek Cypriots but also to Egypt and Lebanon, over the oil and gas issue.
“This does not indicate a spirit of consent and a spirit of dialogue, but rather an anachronistic approach,” said Lillikas.

He said it was the absolute sovereign right of Cyprus to exploit and resources on land or in the sea within its territory.

“The Republic of Cyprus is a sovereign state, a member of the UN and the EU, and its actions are within the sovereign rights of this state,” Commerce Minister Antonis Michaelides said later yesterday.

Opposition DISY leader Nicos Anastassiades, who has come under fire this week for planning a meeting with Talat, said the Turkish Cypriot leader’s statements to Dialogue were unacceptable and reprehensible.

“If indeed Mr Talat is interested in joint exploration then he should interest himself in helping to turn the July 8 agreement into a reality so that a dialogue and preparation can be done on issues of substance so that the Cyprus problem can be solved,” said Anastassiades. “Then we can enjoy the wealth of our country together.”

Previous studies have estimated that oil and natural gas reserves in the seas surrounding Cyprus amount to six to eight billion barrels, currently worth around $400 billion. Cyprus will open up to offers for the exploration of 11 out of 13 designated blocks in February, the government announced on Thursday.

The first phase of offers begins on February 15 and expires on July 16 when interested parties will have the five months to submit offers to buy the necessary data enabling them to carry our further research inside a three-year time period. The cabinet met last night in an extraordinary session to finalise details on the areas to be explored, to approve the text for the invitation of offers, and the criteria under which they will be evaluated.

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Priceless icons return home January 27, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Cyprus Occupied, Religion & Faith.
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Six priceless icons belonging to the Church of Cyprus were returned to the island yesterday after being stolen from the occupied Morphou area after the 1974 Turkish military invasion.

During a special ceremony at the Archbishopric in Nicosia, Archbishop Chrysostomos thanked all those who had worked for the return of the icons, and particularly Byzantologist Athanassios Papageorgiou who had the foresight to photograph the icons in Morphou before the Turkish invasion.

The icons were located last year at the Sotheby’s auction house after Church investigators spotted them up for sale in a catalogue. They were handed over to Bishop Neophytou of Morphou at a ceremony in New York on January 10.

“Europe and America are sensitive to human rights and it is a human right for these icons to be returned to their own homeland,” said the Archbishop. Bishop Neophytou said a “piece of the collective memory” of the Church of Cyprus had been returned.

“Often we realise with pain in our souls and with bitterness and indignation that this icons are held in the dungeons of Attila or in the galleries of Europe and America and other countries,” he said. “But we expect the art world to be sensitive to our people and our culture.”

Biship Neophyotu also thanked everyone who had been involved in rescuing the icons, including the Foreign Ministry and the Church lawyers.

In his address to the gathering, Foreign Minister George Lillikas said expressed the government’s satisfaction with the way the case had turned out, and promised it would always work in full cooperation with the Church in this area. Lillikas said he also hope that foreign governments would show the necessary sensitivity and respect, not just to Cyprus but to international rules for the protection of cultural heritage, when such cases arose in the future.

Five of the six returned icons were from the church in occupied Assinou in the Morphou district and the sixth is from KaloPanayiotis. Among others they include depictions of the Virgin of Assinou, the Apostles Peter and Paul and Ayios (Saint)Andronikos.

The fact the icons were well-documented in the past made the Church’s case easier to prove. The icons had been in the possession of the Pankow Foundation created by construction magnate Charles Pankow. Pankow was known as a connoisseur of the arts, having established a considerable collection of ancient Egyptian, Chinese and Russian artefacts. He amassed one of the largest private collections of Russian and Greek icons in the United States. After his death the administrators gathered a lot of his Byzantine pieces for auction and published a catalogue. An out-of-court settlement was reached with the administrators of the Foundation, but only for the reimbursement of expenses and fees.

New Cyprus Airways – Paris route January 27, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in News Flights.
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Cyprus Airways (CY) yesterday announced a new route Larnaca-Thessaloniki-Paris, which the airline said would increase their passenger traffic to France by 36 per cent on.

CY already carries out direct flights to Paris but the new route via Thessaloniki will provide an additional 13,000 seats each year to the French capital. France is the third biggest route for CY after the UK and Greece.

The new route will operate twice a week on Tuesdays and Sundays while a third day, Thursday, will likely be added from April this year for the summer season.

CY says the new route will benefit businessmen, tourists and students and passengers from Cyprus will have the option of spending time in Thessaloniki.

The ceremony to launch the new route was held in Paris, where CY general manager Christos Kyriakides forecast that the new itinerary would prove beneficial to the company, which is struggling to return to the black.

Kyriakides said the company expected next month to hear from Brussels whether the government, the airline’s main stakeholder, could go ahead and guarantee a multi-million loan to help the company restructure. 

Los Gatos Dio Deka > an exquisite dining experience January 27, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Greek Taste World.
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Greetings are all important. As you enter the restaurant and are led to your table on a busy Saturday night, the hostess, your waiter and one of the managing partners express a sincere welcome. Filoxenia, Greek hospitality reigns at Dio Deka.

Servers and managing partners abound, ready to assist you with your selections and to decipher the tongue-twisting Greek menu items, even though there’s an explanation of each dish in English.

But first, the wine! From a cellar of more than 1,500 bottles, in all price ranges, it’s actually made easy by the restaurant’s listing of the most popular ones. We request a dry, red wine from Greece and are brought a 2003 Nemea, a lovely robust and fruity wine with aromas of cherries, blackberries and vanilla.

My Octapodaki is a thinly sliced terrine of imported Greek octopus. Octopus is a very simple dish in Greece, often served as a meze appetizer with a glass of ouzo. Here, the addition of shaved fennel, aleppo pepper and lemon vinaigrette make a mouth-watering statement. My friend orders Astakos Avgolemono, an outstanding soup with tender pieces of Maine lobster. Central to the flavor is the famous Greek egg and lemon avgolemono fumet base, giving it a tangy, delicious flavor.

The Dolmathakia are exceptional. I have eaten countless dolmades, dolmathakia means little dolmades in my life, but these have an edge. Metaxa-braised beef short ribs and slow-cooked creamy rice are wrapped in grape leaves and finished with a truffle-scented wild mushroom citrus foam. And another appetizer called Ktipiti, whipped feta with fire-roasted red chilies, and containing just the right amount of zing, is not to be missed. Appetizers play a huge role in Greek cuisine, and the lowly taverna usually has the best offerings. Thanks to Salvatore Calisi, the executive chef who comes with a wealth of experience from working in high-end New York restaurants, Hellenic food in Dio Deka has been brought to ambrosial heights.

On another occasion I dined at the restaurant my entree was Psari Tou Chef, a fish dish selected daily by the chef. It was so wonderful that I ordered it again. This time it’s presented already filleted. Managing partner Petros Katopodis tells me that most people prefer it that way rather than Greek style with head and tail. Either way, the mesquite-grilled filet of escolar with warm new potatoes, Greek olive oil, feta and watercress has a wealth of abundant flavors and is really scrumptious. A second entree, Arni Kotsi is a slowly braised lamb shank with saffron risotto, St. George wine and Greek manouri cheese. One has no problem eating lamb as tender as this. A slight prod with a fork and it almost falls right off the bone. A mouthful of risotto with the wine-infused sauce shows off culinary expertise at its best.

Dio Deka’s Baklava is like no other baklava I have ever eaten. Served with slow-roasted banana and a medley of toasted nuts, the layers of wafer-thin phyllo pastry are enhanced by clove-spiced citrus syrup and banana gelato. This and the Mille-feuille an enormous puff pastry tower filled with cream are two very impressive desserts from a selection of about a half dozen. 

After eating and drinking in Bacchanalian style, we cross the courtyard to our beautiful suite in the Hotel Los Gatos and Spa. Blissful comfort awaits us in the form of a fireplace, robes and plump down pillows. And breakfast the next morning is served in your room or in the charming lobby. We decide to stay the whole weekend in Los Gatos, and don’t regret it for a minute.

Dio Deka, 210 E. Main St., Los Gatos. (408) 354-7700 or www.diodeka.com
Hotel Los Gatos, 210 E. Main St., Los Gatos. (866) 335-1700 or www.hotellosgatos.com

More on Dio Deka
Dio Deka is situated in the Hotel Los Gatos in a space formerly occupied by Kuleto’s. Dio Deka takes its name from the address of the hotel: 210 Main St. Dio Deka means 2-10 in Greek, which also happens to be the area code of Athens.

The restaurant’s six managing partners, some of whom worked at Evvia in Palo Alto, are backed by VeriSign CEO Stratton Sclavos. Dio Deka opened in the fall of 2006 after about three years in the planning. Its 145-seat room is beautifully decorated with wrought iron chandeliers and a working fireplace. Wine glasses are Riedel crystal, and good cutlery and china abound.

The impressive walnut flooring does not seem to absorb sound, and the restaurant is noisy. But the atmosphere is lively, to say the least. Service is ultra-attentive. A phalanx of waiters stands ready to serve you. Dio Deka has a full bar.

A Greek revival January 27, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Culture History Mythology.
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Greece is renowned for its ancient architecture, magnificent ruins, in various states of preservation, of temples dedicated to Zeus, Athena and other ancient deities. The religion that built those temples was outlawed about 1,600 years ago by a Christian emperor.

Most Greeks now are Orthodox Christians, and the Church regards ancient Greek religion as pagan. Even the Greek government did not consider it a religion, until last year, when a group called Ellinais won a court fight for state recognition of the ancient Greek religion.

Now they are pushing for the right to celebrate their rites in “their” temples, The Associated Press reports. The Culture ministry responsible for the protection of ancient monuments forbids entry to most ruins in Athens.

Last weekend, group members held a ceremony honouring Zeus beside the ruins of the Temple of Olympian Zeus in downtown Athens. Completed in the second century AD, the temple was the largest in Athens.

A word in your ear >

Orthodox and orthodoxy entered English from ancient Greek by way of Latin. The Greek Orthodoxia combines orthos (straight, right or correct) and doxa (belief, glory). So orthodox means “right-believing.”

Catholic, meaning “universal,” is derived ultimately from the ancient Greek katholikos.

Catholic is widely used as a synonym for Roman Catholic, but the Orthodox Church also considers itself universal.

Desert monks January 27, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Greek Diaspora.
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Mount Athos, a remote peninsula in northern Greece, is home to 20 Orthodox Christian monasteries. The newest was built in the 16th century; the oldest is 1,044 years old.

Now there’s a little bit of Mount Athos in Arizona. A 10-year-old monastery in the desert is already attracting pilgrims from as far away as Greece.

St. Anthony’s in the Sonoran Desert near Florence, Ariz., is one of 17 Greek Orthodox monasteries in North America, according to the Arizona Republic.

Its founder, Father Ephraim, brought six monks from Mount Athos to build the monastery.

A pilgrim from Alaska, John Alan Jones, said it was the best known Orthodox monastery in the United States. “Greece has Mount Athos. America has St. Anthony’s in Florence.”

Women, and even female animals, it is said, are barred from Mount Athos, but not from St. Anthony’s.

St. Anthony the Great, born in Egypt the third century, was a hermit who lived in the desert. Because he gathered hermits into loose-knit communities, Anthony is regarded as the founder of Orthodox Christian monasticism.

Athens bids for 2011 Special Olympics Summer Games January 27, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Olympic Games.
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The past week was a decisive one for the Greek government’s bid to host the 2011 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Athens, which ran a safe and successful Olympic Games in 2004.

The on-site inspection committee arrived to evaluate Athens’s bid, their last stop after visiting another two candidate cities in Morocco and in the USA. The Committee President, American Jimmy Karnes, and Athens bid Committee Head Yianna Despotopoulou, the President of Special Olympics Hellas, visited Deputy Sports Minister Giorgos Orfanos, who sent the official bid letter, guaranteeing excellent organization, economic support and warm hospitality for the 7,500 athletes and 3,000 coaches and escorts from 172 countries, as well as the 15,000 family members who would come to the Games.

Some 20,000 volunteers will be needed, all for the 14 days of the Games, nine of which are competition days. The prospects are good, and Athens impressed the Committee, whose other members are Vice President Ossie Kilkenny from Ireland, American Lee Todd, sportswoman and Special Olympics International board member Stacy Johnston and Norwegian Ase Torheim.

If Athens succeeds, the Committee will return in May to sign the contract so that Greek officials can gain experience by attending the 2007 Special Olympics in June-July in Shanghai.

Athens Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis, who is also a bid committee member, threw a dinner for the inspecting committee at City Hall with Despotopoulou, whose organizational flair and prestige enhanced the bid. So, good luck Athens!