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Appeal to UK citizens worldwide for help to support occupied Cyprus February 6, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Cyprus Occupied.
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British citizens in the UK, and expatriates abroad, are being urged to sign an on-line petition, addressed directly to UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, asking that there be no direct flights to occupied Cyprus.

Its’ promoters insist that the supporters of the Turkish occupation regime have deceived 6000 people into signing an on-line petition in support of direct flights to occupied Cyprus and that this must be countered.

The Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974, referred to by euphemism as the 1974 Cyprus Peace Operation by Turkey was the heavily condemned military action against the independent, sovereign, island nation of Cyprus by Turkey that resulted in the partition of the Republic of Cyprus.

Turkey argues that it was a consequence of tensions between the Junta in Greece and Turkey, and of internal unrest within Greece. It took place during the final months of the Greek military junta of 1967-1974, at which time Greek Army officers stationed in Cyprus launched a coup d’état against the President of Cyprus, Archibishop Makarios III.

Turkey’s position was that such action was allowed under the provisions of the 1960 Treaty of Guarantee. The Treaty provided that Greece, Turkey and United Kingdom would ensure the independence and sovereignty of the Republic of Cyprus. Turkey, taking advantage of political unrest in Greece that expanded to Cyprus, announced that the invasion was a peace-keeping operation to restore the constitutional order in Cyprus.

Turkey, however, invaded Cyprus in two waves on the 20 July and 14 August 1974 and still occupies 37% of the island despite UN Security Council Resolutions. After the first wave of the invasion the constitutional order had been restored Makarios III returned to power, the Junta in Greece collapsed but the Turkish military continued with the second wave.

The result of the invasion was the creation of an internationally unrecognized Turkish Cypriot breakaway state in the areas under Turkish occupation and the displacement of 210,000 ethnic Greek and Turkish Cypriots. Today, although Turkish Cypriots have full free movement rights throughout the island as citizens of the Republic of Cyprus, Greek Cypriots have not been permitted to return permanently to the Turkish-occupied north.

You must be a British national or residing in the UK in order to sign on-line at: http://petitions.pm.gov.uk/occupied-cyprus/

The text of the petition to Mr Blair says:

We the undersigned, petition the Prime Minister to act in accordance with Britain’s treaty obligations with the Republic of Cyprus and to take decisive action to prevent direct trade and direct flights between Britain and Turkish occupied Cyprus and to prevent the illegal sale and advertising of Greek Cypriot property to British nationals.

According to the Treaty of Guarantee, Britain, Greece and Turkey undertook “to prohibit, as far as lies within their power, all activity having the object of promoting directly or indirectly either the union of the Republic of Cyprus with any other State, or the partition of the Island.”

The promoters of the petition, which is part of a UK government project to make it easier for groups to petition through the Internet, remind the public that the 1974 Turkey invasion of Cyprus was illegal.

UN Security Council resolutions 541(1983) and 550(1984) declare the self-proclaimed “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus” “legally invalid” and call upon all states not to assist this illegal secessionist entity in any way.

All ports and airports in occupied Cyprus have been declared illegal points of entry and closed to all traffic and trade by the Cyprus government. Civilian flights to any airport inoccupied Cyprus violate the Chicago Convention.

Watch this space!

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‘Swan Lake’ problems overcome February 6, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Ballet Dance Opera.
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The new, state-of-the-art Badminton Theater is situated in Goudi, Athens

badmintontheater.jpg  After a bumpy landing, with two performances canceled due to a software bug that caused problems with the set equipment (“flies”), performances of Matthew Bourne’s “Swan Lake” in the brand new, state-of-the-art Badminton Theater will go ahead as scheduled from today until Sunday.

There were small hitches for a few minutes in the Wednesday and Saturday evening performances while Thursday’s had to be canceled altogether.

“We brought in technicians from the German firm that provided the software and decided to cancel Sunday’s performance in advance so that they would have two full days to correct the problem properly,” Dimitris Habesis, public relations director for the theater, said. “We have been testing the machinery non-stop since Sunday to ensure there will be no more problems, not for even a minute,” he said. “Unfortunately, there will be no opportunity to extend the season, as the dance company has commitments elsewhere.”

The Badminton Theater has been fully reconstructed, keeping only the outer shell of the Olympic structure, according to an ultra-modern design and with the latest in stage and sound equipment, achieved after months of round-the-clock construction to be ready in time for last Wednesday’s premiere.

Tickets at Virgin Μegastores and www.ticketnet.gr, tel 210 8840600.

The project is still in its infancy February 6, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Energy.
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According to a study by the Institute for Rural Development and Cooperative Economy (INASO), sunflowers are a good crop for producing biodiesel. Last year, around 9,000 hectares were planted with sunflowers for other uses in the region of northern Evros.

The study takes into account the fact that many crops in Greece are declining as prices fall, and they could, if the farmers wish, be replaced or supplemented by biofuel crops.

An estimated 80 percent of tobacco, sugar beet and cotton could be replaced by energy crops, as could an estimated 20 percent of hard and soft wheat grown for food. Seventy-five percent of those crops are grown in 21 largely agricultural prefectures.

As Nikos Vassilakos, one of the researchers and Vice President of the European Federation of Energy Producers, said “The units were positioned in areas where the raw material is available so as to keep transportation costs down, and to encourage farmers to participate in the business side.”

The study provides for five units, each capable of producing 40,000 metric tons of biodiesel a year, in Rhodope-Evros, Kilkis-Thessaloniki, Larissa, Viotia-Fthiotida and Kozani-Karditsa areas. It will take 42,500 hectares of sunflower crops to make 40,000 tons of biodiesel.

The experts recommend putting three bioethanol units of 12,000-15,000 hectares in Larissa, Serres and Evros, and nine 15 MW electricity plants in Aitoloacarnania, Fthiotida, Ileia, Drama, Imathia, Pella, Kilkis, Kozani and Serres.

The study notes that growing energy crops will not work without subsidies and other support to guarantee farmers’ incomes and the sale of the energy by the processing unit at a price that makes it worthwhile for the factory. The present EU subsidy (of –4.50 per 0.1 hectare) is considered very low.

“The overall required annual subsidy for energy crops, in order to ensure farmers’ present incomes and make investments in biofuel processing pay off, is 197 million,” said Vassilakos. The present subsidy is 17 million a year, but the INASO research team believes there are solutions.

Their use of biofuel is estimated to save around 50 million from carbon emission conversions in line with the Kyoto protocol and from the money saved on fines and on acquiring emission rights. Also, the remaining 130 million a year could come from Fourth Community Support Framework funds.

To boost demand, the amount of tax-free biofuels produced from local raw materials could be increased. Vassilakos notes that kWh produced by biomass could be sold at a higher price to the electricity grid. “Currently electricity generated from biomass sells at 73/MWh, while that generated by photovoltaic is 50/MWh,” And, he added, “the solar cell systems are wholly imported.”

Matters will improve considerably if Greece decides to produce more than the EU-mandated 5.75 percent of energy from biomass. Besides, the latest proposal from the European Commission is for biofuels to represent 20 percent of all fuel used for transportation by 2020, while the European Parliament seems likely to recommend 15 percent.

As greater amounts are produced, economies of scale will benefit all concerned. But the project is still in its infancy. To produce biodiesel, the raw material must first be made into oil and then processed. At present there are four biodiesel factories in Greece, all using imported oils, and one factory that can handle the whole process from raw material to the finished product.

The deputy minister has announced the establishment of a new factory, with investment from the Agricultural Cooperatives of Kozani and Amyntaio and funding under the development law. As yet there is no bioethanol factory, which requires far more capital investment, and there are few energy crops.

Ministry data show that in 2006 some 9,000 hectares of land were planted with sunflowers for other uses in northern Evros and 1,000 to 1,500 hectares of rapeseed in Thessaloniki, Central and Eastern Macedonia and Thrace.
 
Energy crops are either cultivated or self-sown plants that produce biomass, which can then be used to generate energy, electricity and solid and liquid fuels.

The plants in use are: Plants containing oil, such as rapeseed, soy and sunflower, to produce oil and then biodiesel; plants containing sugar (sugar beet, sugar cane, sweet sorghum) for bioethanol; starch-containing plants (cereals, corn) for bioethanol; grain sorghum (reeds and agricultural waste) to produce electricity and solid state fuels.

Greece moves slowly toward biomass fuel February 6, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Energy.
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Plans in works to grow 370,000 hectares of energy-producing plants

Using energy from plants for heating and electricity will help increase farmers’ incomes and lessen environmental pollution, but such a project’s success depends on the conditions in which investment is made.

The most promising areas for such crops and sites to process liquid fuels such as biodiesel and bioethanol are explored in “Action Plan for Biomass and Biofuel in Greece”, a study by the Institute for Rural Development and Cooperative Economy (INASO) for the Panhellenic Confederation of Unions of Agricultural Cooperatives (PASEGES).

European Union directives mandate that by 2010, at least 5.75 percent of the fuel used in Greece for transport be biofuel, and that 1.2 percent of the country’s electricity be produced from biomass. The figure of 5.7 percent refers to all types of biofuel, and each member state can decide whether to invest in biodiesel or bioethanol.

To produce the requisite amount of biomass, Greece must cultivate an estimated 370,000 hectares of energy-producing plants. The proposal is to plant 200,00 hectares with sunflower and rapeseed to produce biodiesel; 110,00 hectares with sweet sorghum, sugar beet, wheat and corn to produce bioethanol; and 50,000 hectares with grain sorghum to produce electricity.

Ministry of Culture must decide fate of its Plaka properties February 6, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Architecture Greece.
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Expert fears area will become ‘another Psyrri’

During the 1980s, when Plaka began turning into what it is starting to become again today, the most beautiful neighborhood in Athens, there was another story being played out in the background: Ministry of Culture services began moving into renovated neoclassical houses in quick succession. All former homes that had come into the possession of the state back from the times when the dictatorship regime had them expropriated, they then came into the possession of the Culture Ministry, which found itself with a large amount of real estate it had to decide what to do with.

The buildings were not few: approximately 120 former homes, many of them quite large in size and economic value, mostly clustered around the heart of the area, around the Tower of the Winds and the Roman Forum. The path of least resistance was the one taken by the ministry, as it moved a plethora of its administrative services into the Plaka homes.

The news was great for hundreds of employees of the ministry who could go to work every day in this idyllic environment. The news was not so good for the residents of Plaka though. After 4 p.m., when the services closed up for the day, entire streets would become deserted as the night settled in. Large chunks of Plaka were made bare of human activity every night, raising local security concerns and allowing the properties in these areas to become victims to vandalism.

Last month, Culture Minister Giorgos Voulgarakis revealed one of the ministry’s plans of attack against this problem, saying that with the impending July transfer of the ministry’s headquarters to a complex in Rendi, they would also be addressing the use of the buildings in Plaka. Voulgarakis said that he will re-examine all the terms of their use and said that he would like to see all the buildings being used to house infrastructural services to be used for cultural purposes. “To operate as galleries, interactive spaces, exhibitions areas… all that Athens is lacking,” he said.

Yiannis Michail, a member of the team monitoring and studying the problems arising in Plaka, is skeptical: “Exactly 20 years ago, the Monitoring Committee, noting the problems that arose from the public services moving into the district, submitted a proposal to the Ministry of Culture: to cede the buildings for a period of 30 years and for a specific amount of rent to private investors, who would agree to meet the full cost of their renovation and modernization.” The proposal was turned down twice.

Michail, hearing of the minister’s statements, appears guarded: “We must, at all costs, preserve the residential character of Plaka, which, moreover, is ensured by a presidential decree. Otherwise, I am very afraid that Plaka will become another Psyrri” he said, referring to the downtown neighborhood that has gone from a residential, small business district to a nightlife hotspot with little else but bars, cafes, restaurants and clubs.

Argentinean folk returns to Athens for two shows February 6, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Music Life Live Gigs.
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Gotan Project updates traditional tango sound with modern touches
Popular fusion act whose newest album digs deeper into Argentinean folk to return to Athens for two shows

Gotan Project’s blend of tango with electronica took modified tradition to the clubs. ‘Even if it weren’t for us, this would have happened. It’s the same as in jazz, where the majority of artists were playing mostly standards for ages, until a spark for something new came along,’ said Philippe Cohen Solal.

Gotan Project released their debut album «La Revancha Del Tango» (Revenge of Tango) in 2001, a title which proved prophetic. Coming from the multiethnic trio comprising Frenchman Philippe Cohen Solal, Argentinean Eduardo Makaroff and Christoph H. Mueller from Switzerland, the album helped take tango out of the closet and into clubs around the world. Gotan Project’s blend of the traditional Argentinean style, which dates back to the early 20th century, with electronica produced a fresh-sounding and innovative result. The band’s first album has not only sold over a million copies, but has gone down as a modern classic. Gotan Project, who released a follow-up, «Lunatico» last April, will perform in Greece next week.

For «Lunatico,» named after a racehorse that belonged to Carlos Gardel, the legendary tango artist of the 1930s, Gotan Project’s list of guests include the popular American Tex-Mex act Calexico. The album remains mostly true to its predecessor’s concept, with a slight variation. For «Lunatico,» the trio dig deeper into tango’s tradition and focus harder on the style’s roots.

Gotan Project: February 13, Athens, at the Athinon Arena; February 14, Thessaloniki at the Principal Club. Tickets on sale at Metropolis music stores; Ticket House, 42 Panepistimiou Street, Athens; and online at www.ticketshop.gr.

Cintra to build and operate second toll road in Greece February 6, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Architecture Infrastructure.
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Cintra, a subsidiary of Grupo Ferrovial, has been selected by the Greek Government as provisional contractor to build, finance, operate, maintain and exploit the Central Greece Motorway (E65). The project is estimated to cost about 1.5 billion euro and the concession will run for 30 years.

This will be Cintra’s second toll road in Greece, where it has already bid for a third project and is short-listed for a fourth (those two projects represent a projected investment of close to 3 billion euro).

In this project, Cintra is the leader (33.34%) of a consortium with ACS and Greek construction company GEK (33.33% each); Cintra will nominate the concession company’s General Manager.

The newly-built road will come into service in approximately 66 months. The road is expected to become operational by the end of 2009, when part of the road to be built by the Government will be transferred to the concession company.