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Westminster pays tribute to Cyprus July 17, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Cyprus Occupied, Religion & Faith.
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Westminster pays tribute to Cyprus > exhibition on the religious destruction of Orthodox Christian Churches in Turkish occupied and military controlled north areas of Cyprus

Doros Partasides the veteran photo journalist from Cyprus and colleague Panayiotis Yiacoumi staged an exhibition at Westminster Cathedral Hall on 10 July to highlight to religious destruction that has taken place in the occupied and military controlled north areas of Cyprus, following the illegal Turkish invasion in the Republic of Cyprus in July 1974.

Doros expressed his satisfaction that the exhibition was well received by the political, religious and diplomatic circles of Westminster and said: “I originally expected a turnout of 150 people we ended up having 280 people all of which consisted of the significant players in Westminster”.

The exhibition may tour the UK focusing on the Greek Orthodox parishes in the major cities. An Early Day Motion has also been signed in the House of Commons following the exhibition stating:

“That this House notes with concern that up to 100 Christian churches in the occupied north of the Republic of Cyprus have been stripped by looters of all removable items such as floors, bells, altar tables, iconostasis and over 23,000 icons for sale in the international art black market, that many others are used as stables, barns, cafes, military bases and mosques and that there has been widespread destruction of their associated cemeteries and grave monuments; congratulates Panayiotis Yiacoumi and Doros Partasides on recording this widespread desecration and destruction in their photographic exhibition, The Loss of a Religious Heritage; and calls upon all the communities of Cyprus not to use religious and cultural monuments as objects for hatred but to respect them and work together to protect and preserve them as their shared Cypriot heritage”.


A pearl of the Aegean > Chios island July 17, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Greece Islands Aegean.
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For most of us, Greek islands are just for holidays, a week or two in the sun. If that is what you want, that’s fine. But while it is true that several Greek islands have specialised in tourism and offer the quintessential white beaches and windmills experience, to go to a holiday island is to miss the two key roles Greece has played in our own European culture: civilisation and commerce. You only grasp that if you go to a working island. And the working island that best binds together these two traditions is a pearl of the Aegean called Chios.

Civilisation has been around in Chios for a long time. Homer gives a good description of it, the island according to many experts, is one that has best claim to be his birthplace. Commerce has been around a long time, too, for Chios has long been a centre of Greek shipping. Its harbour was mentioned by Herodotus as having space for 80 ships. Its importance is location, being on the narrowest passage from the eastern Mediterranean to the northern Aegean and Constantinople.

Today, more major Greek ship owners come from Chios than anywhere else. While many of them now work from London, they keep family homes on the island. There is also a long tradition of islanders working as captains or merchants, setting up businesses around the world, and returning to their birthplace to retire. Half the jobs on the island are connected in some way with sea transport.

So why choose a non-holiday island for a holiday? We went for a wedding, and that was fascinating in itself. There is great charm embedded in the Orthodox Christian wedding ceremony: the exchanging of crowns over the heads of bride and groom, the chanting, the throwing of rice and so on. Of course, that gives an especially privileged glimpse of local society. 

Chios is big or, rather, big by the standards of Greek islands. It is about 30 miles long, north to south, and about 15 miles across at its widest point. There is a large town, bustling Chios Town, where half the island’s population of 50,000 lives, plus a lot of villages of varying degrees of prosperity. So you need to rent a car to get around.

Of great experience was a walk between two of the main medieval villages of the “masticha” region, Olympi and Mesta. Masticha is a gum that comes from the resin of a mastic tree that has grown on a corner of the south of Chios for thousands of years and won’t grow anywhere else. The mastic, which falls in drops from cuts in the trunk of the trees, has been collected for about 3,000 years, and is mentioned in the writings of Herodotus, Hippocrates and Pliny. The mastic is collected, washed, dried and scraped by hand in the same way as it was back then. In ancient times it was prized as a medicine but now it has a string of other uses: aside from being chewed as a gum, it is also utilised in lacquers, perfumes, orthodontics, cooking and so on.

There are a number of marked paths on the island through scenery of particular interest. The one between Olympi and Mesta is particularly delightful. You start though fields, then climb up over scrub to a tiny church at the top of the hill, then back down on the other side on a medieval pathway to Mesta.

Mesta is the best-preserved of these villages, and in fact very inspiring. Mesta  has a population of about 1,000. We pondered that as we climbed back up through the olive groves to a picnic at the chapel at the top. And isn’t that what holidays should be for? We looked at Byzantine frescoes that were being restored at the island’s most celebrated monastery, Nea Moni, which means New Monastery, inappropriate for a complex originally built in the 11th century. 

Well, another memorable meal was at the Asterias Tavern on the road to Vrontados, where our friends live just north of the main town. And we swam in the buff from an empty beach on the east coast.

If you insist on a more conventional tourist experience, there is one resort on the island, Karfas, which has great beaches and swanky hotels. But what makes a break special, surely, is when you combine having a good time with experiences that help you think again about other societies and what you might learn from them. You can only get that from going to a real Greek island rather than one that has been spruced up for the tourists.

Olympic Airlines (www.olympicairlines.com) and Aegean Airlines (www.aegeanair.com) have regular flights from Athens to Chios. Hellenic Seaways ferries depart from the port of Piraeus, near Athens, for Chios (www.hellenicseaways.gr).

Grecian Castle Hotel, Enoseos Avenue, Chios Town (www.greciancastle.gr). Doubles start at €132 including breakfast. Chios Chandris Hotel, 2 Eugenia’s Chandris Street, Chios Town (www.chandris.gr). Doubles start at €160 including breakfast. Erytha Hotel, Karfas (www.erytha.gr). Doubles start at €70 including breakfast.

Related Links > www.gnto.gr

Make sure you buy property in good faith July 17, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Cyprus Occupied.
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The actions of any prospective property buyer should be ruled by prudence and caution, so that before concluding a transaction, he should investigate the seller’s intentions and any other possible burden on the property.

The wise buyer is the one that acts on professional advice and research to obtain the facts and get the full picture in all matters, especially concerning the seller’s title deeds.

In the case that it appears that the property belongs to a third party or is mortgaged, then the buyer has the obligation to mention these points on legal documents that make up the purchaser’s capacity of acting in good faith. The burden of proof is on him. Only in this way he will be able to satisfy the exception in the basic rule of law that nobody can give a better title deed than the one he has. The proprietary right of the seller can be investigated with the correct research through the Land Registry. It can also be checked on the spot to verify the natural condition of the land and also if there are any third party rights.

The question of whether a buyer has put forward evidence that shows that he has acted as a purchaser in good faith to satisfy the exception to the higher rule of law, has been examined by the Supreme Court of Cyprus in the case Orams v Apostolides, a case that does not only concern this specific situation. According to the decision, the Orams came to Cyprus aiming to buy a property in the Turkish military controlled and occupied areas of the Republic of Cyprus. Under such circumstances, a purchaser in good faith should be particularly thorough and cautious in the investigation of any property title presented to him. They should have been alerted and should have asked for further evidence from the land registry office, which could have provided them with information regarding the legal ownership of the land.

Even in the occupied and military controlled part of Cyprus, the Orams, according to the court, could have found the information during the time of the property purchase as they did later on, that the alleged owner from whom they had bought the property, had ‘been awarded it’ by the so-called and self-proclaimed ‘Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus’ and was the property of a Greek Cypriot refugee. If they really had been acting in good faith and with the least discretion and caution it would have been easy for them to know that the title deeds of the property they were planning to buy were legally deficient and invalid.

Regarding the matter of the alleged exchange of Greek Cypriot properties with Turkish Cypriot properties they mentioned in their statutory declaration, it is worth mentioning that this subject of property exchange has never existed. According to the law, the proprietary rights of Turkish Cypriots in the free areas have never been removed and also the Greek Cypriots maintain their proprietary rights in the Turkish occupied and military controlled areas of the Republic of Cyprus, even if illegally prevented to exercise them.

Property Commission hits back at Greek Cypriot claims July 17, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Cyprus Occupied.
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The head of the so-called north’s property commission yesterday strongly rejected accusations by a Greek Cypriot lawyer that those applying for compensation or reinstatement to their properties in the Turkish occupied and military controlled north area of the Republic of Cyprus were being led “into a trap”.

The accusation was made over the weekend by Achilleas Demetriades, the lawyer representing Greek Cypriot Ammochostos (Famagusta) refugee Myra Xenides-Arestis, who said Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot leaders had set up the commission in order to “trick the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR)” into believing an effective domestic remedy to Greek Cypriot property claims could be found in the occupied north area of Nicosia.

According to local media, 220 Greek Cypriots have applied to the commission asking for reinstatement to their properties, financial compensation, or exchange with those abandoned by Turkish Cypriots in the free south of Cyprus. According to the same media, of that figure, only 15 have received compensation, three have returned to their homes in the occupied and military controlled north, and two have opted for exchange. However, it is notable to mention that 200,000 Greek Cypriots were forced to flee their homelands and become refugees, after Turkish forces invaded the Republic of Cyprus, occupying its north areas, back in July 1974.

The head of the commission, Sumer Erkman, responded to Demetriades’ accusations yesterday by saying that the validity of the commission would “not be decided by Greek Cypriot lawyers but the ECHR itself”.

Demetriades’ accusation was based on the case of a Greek Cypriot who is still waiting to receive £250,000 the commission said it would pay in compensation for his property in the occupied and military controlled north. He also referred to a similar commission set up by Turkey to compensate around 1,500 Turks who had been displaced by fighting between the Turkish military and Kurdish separatists in the south east of Turkey. That commission, he said, had “tricked” the ECHR into believing it would provide an effective domestic remedy while, in fact, only offering victims “absurdly low compensation amounts”.

Erkman yesterday rejected these accusations, saying that any delays in processing Greek Cypriot applications were due, not to unwillingness on its part, but to the length of time it needed to process each application. “We are going as fast as we can. In one year, we have processed 20 applications and completed them to the satisfaction of the applicants,” she said, adding that a further 100 cases were currently being dealt with.

This weekend, the commission also came under fire from an applicant who told a Greek Cypriot daily that since making his application, a Turkish Cypriot-registered company had begun building on his property.

Erkman responded to this accusation by saying that even if building had begun, the rights of the applicant would take precedence, and that the company carrying out the construction was doing so “at the risk of losing the property and its investment”.  “Unfortunately, the commission does not have the authority to stop the building, but when processing the application, we base all our judgements on the situation on the date of the application. That means that if the application was made on April 20, before building had begun, the construction company will not be able to claim the land by saying it has been built on, whatever they have built on it,” Erkman said.

Re-opening of Capsis Resort in Crete July 17, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Hotels Greece.
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Great Hotels of the World announces re-opening of Capsis Resort Crete; €25 million transformation sees former convention centre become VIP resort

Great Hotels of the World (http://www.ghotw.com), representing some of the world’s finest independent hotels, is delighted to announce that 5* deluxe The Capsis Resort Crete, in Heraklion, on the island of Crete, officially re-opened in May with a completely new and unique concept, especially for Greece.

The hotel, previously a resort convention centre hotel operating under the name Capsis Beach Hotel & Sofitel Capsis Palace Hotel & Convention Centre, has undergone a complete transformation, costing €25 million (approx £17 million), to re-emerge as an exclusive VIP resort.

Changing the name to The Capsis Resort Crete, the new complex consists of two main hotel buildings, three private neighbourhoods with bungalows, suites, maisonettes and villas and an exclusive all-suite hotel with more than 50 private pool-maisonettes and villas. The four sections are all either totally renovated or brand new and accommodation is assigned silver, gold, platinum or diamond status.

The new Oasis neighbourhood offers the gold collection of accommodation and includes lagoon-pools surrounded by bungalows, maisonettes and bungalow-suites. It also incorporates the Sofitel Capsis Palace Hotel which is the resort’s luxury boutique hotel offering. The sea-front platinum collection Thalassa neighbourhood, meanwhile, offers guests private in-suite check in and accommodation with private pools. It also houses the ‘Villa Emerald’ incorporating a private pool, bar & billiard room, living room, dining room, office, three bedrooms, private hammam and butler service.

The diamond collection all-suite hotel is an exclusive new venture featuring luxury suites, maisonettes and villas complete with private Jacuzzi or pool, in-suite check in, a hotel spa, restaurants and bar. Close by is also the exclusive 512sqm ‘Black Pearl Villa’ which builds on the Villa Emerald’s offering adding a home cinema, private pool and sea decks, an indoor and an outdoor pool.

In addition, the resort complex is home to a brand new and exclusive children’s Minoan amusement park; Greece’s only amusement park built within a hotel complex. Aimed at 4-14 year olds, the park is inspired by Greek Mythology with the aim that children enjoy themselves through activities which also teach them about the mythology of Ancient Greece. Facilities include a labyrinth, climbing walls, tree houses, an ancient Greek boat, trembling bridge and many more.

Located on a spacious private peninsula, the resort is also home to a variety of other facilities, including three private beaches, seven restaurants, eight bars, seven main swimming pools, two chapels, a spa, water-sports centre, shops, business facilities and meeting rooms. Operating an environmental protection plan, it is also home to a private zoo, Botanical Park and produces its own flowers, vegetables, herbs and fruits used at the hotel taverna for Cretan cuisine.

For further information and hotel reservations, please contact Great Hotels of the World on 0800 032 4254 or http://www.ghotw.com/capsis-resort

Early Synch Festival takes its vibe to Athens July 17, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Hellenic Athens Festival, Music Life Live Gigs.
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Method of Defiance headlines 4th avant-garde music event, July 22-24

Bernie Worrell spent his childhood playing with symphonies, but later discovered sounds beyond classical.

Now set to enter its fourth year, the Synch Festival, undoubtedly the local concert circuit’s most avant-garde annual summer music event, returns earlier than usual, from July 22 to 24, at a different venue, the Technopolis Complex in Gazi, downtown Athens.

There is an important reason for the event’s venue and date switch from September. For the first time, the Synch Festival is being held within the framework of the Hellenic Festival, the Culture Ministry’s state-supported summer cultural series. All three previous Synch events had been staged on the outskirts of Athens, in Lavrion, at the Technological and Cultural Park, whose facilities once operated as the country’s first power plant.

Performing on the final night, Method of Defiance ranks as the highlight event on the three-day schedule’s sizable offering of some 40 live shows and 10 DJ sets.

Method of Defiance features Bill Laswell, without exaggeration one of the most prolific artists in contemporary music, as performer, producer and label chief, and a longtime pivotal figure on New York City’s underground scene. His bass-heavy and intriguingly atmospheric fusion has drawn a worldwide cult following for Laswell, who has worked at a relentless rate of several albums a year since the early 80s.

Guest appearances on well-received recordings by the likes of David Byrne, John Zorn, and Fred Frith established Laswell as an important musical figure in New York City’s musical community. In 1983, Laswell entered the mainstream with his production of Herbie Hancock’s smash hit «Rockit» which he co-wrote. Not long afterward, Laswell became even more ubiquitous, playing bass on albums by a variety of major acts, including Mick Jagger, Peter Gabriel, Laurie Anderson, and Yoko Ono.

Also on board Method of Defiance is another prominent figure, Bernie Worrell, who is expected in Athens about a fortnight after a show here by a former legendary band leader of his, the funk pioneer George Clinton. Worrell, a child protege on the piano, united forces with Clinton in 1970 as a member of Funkadelic for the groundbreaking and influential act’s debut album «Free Your Mind and Your Ass Will Follow.»

A classically trained pianist at 3 years old, Worrell spent his childhood playing with symphonies and orchestras but later on discovered sounds beyond classical. By the time he went to college, Worrell had begun playing with a number of local bands before meeting Clinton for an extended and fertile stretch into new musical territory. Worrell remained with Clinton and Funkadelic’s successor act P-Funk until the early 80s. He then joined The Talking Heads as both a session contributor and touring musician with the new wave-funk band right through its split in the early 90s.

Besides the performing bands and DJ sets, the Synch Festival will also feature workshops, lectures, and a section focused on the examination and presentation of new media.

For schedule details and ticket information > www.synch.gr

Athens Premiere Nights to honor late director Max Ophuls July 17, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Movies Life Greek.
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The 13th Athens International Film Festival will honor esteemed director Max Ophuls, whose oeuvre has played a key role in the history of world cinema.

Known as Premiere Nights, this year’s festival is scheduled to take place from September 20 to September 30.

Ophuls (1902-1957) was one of the rare feminist directors working in the 1940s, while the core of his work is based on the same consistent obsessions. Beautiful, worthy and emancipated women played a major role in his films. His films became defined by contemporary takes, through his continuous, yet light, camera movement, as well as shots from above. His demanding technical shoots influenced an array of younger directors, all of whom incorporated Ophuls’s ideas into their own movies. Among them are Stanley Kubrick, during his early years, Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola and Pedro Almodovar.

Born Max Oppenheimer in Saarbrucken, Germany, Ophuls changed his name in order to protect his family from shame should there be eventual failure on his part in his chosen career. He started off by acting on stage and soon turned to theater production, taking over that position at Vienna’s Burgtheater. Following an invitation by Anatole Litvak, he started working in film in 1931. The rise of Nazism, however, made him flee Germany for France. From there, he went to the United States, where he continued his film career with the aid of Preston Sturges. Ophuls was twice nominated for an Academy Award.

Premiere Nights screenings include eight of the director’s overall 25 films > “Liebelei” (1933), “Letter from an Unknown Woman” (1948), “Caught” (1949), “Roundabout” (1950), “House of Pleasure” (1952), “Diamond Earrings” (1953) and “Lola Montes” (1955). Also part of the tribute is “Le Chagrin et la Pitie,” an anti-Nazi documentary directed by Marcel Ophuls, the late director’s son.