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The Turkish invasion of Cyprus revisited July 29, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Cyprus Occupied, Politics.
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Greek distrust of Archbishop Makarios weakened Cypriot forces, making it easier for Turkey to occupy the north area of the Republic of Cyprus 33 years ago

Fifteen minutes after midnight on 20 July 1974, the radar of the Republic of Cyprus National Guard on Apostolos Andreas noted that two groups of ships, one with six vessels and another with eight, later ascertained to be 11, that it had been tracking since nine in the evening were following divergent courses. Both had sailed from the port of Mersina and they were still outside the territorial waters of Cyprus. The smaller group was heading east of the cape of Apostolos Andreas, while the larger group was 30 miles north of the cape heading towards Cape Kormakitis.

By 4am it became clear that the larger group was holding 15 miles north of Kyrenia, and two torpedo boats, T1 and T3, were put on alert and ready-to-go status. However, the existence of the smaller group allowed speculation that an invasion could take place in the bay of Famagusta, Ammohostos in Greek. It was just one of the ruses that the National Guard of Cyprus would fall for.

The coup against Makarios > Turkish forces landed easily and Cypriot defenders reacted slowly because Greek officers and other forces had overthrown the island’s legitimate leader Archbishop Makarios. The coup took place on the orders of the military junta in Athens.

Archbishop Makarios had long been at odds with the government in Athens, even before the first junta took over in April of 1967. For many Greeks he was the impediment that forestalled Enosis, the union of the island with Greece. His flirtations with the eastern bloc and the movement of non-aligned nations had caused US circles to call him the “Red Bishop”. Before the junta, in 1964-65, the government of the elder George Papandreou had secretly moved a Greek Army division to Cyprus, after incidents of ethnic violence and a brief interlude by the Turkish airforce. This force was recalled in 1967 after the junta took power.

Relations between Athens and Makarios had deteriorated significantly by 1974, especially after the fall of the colonels and the rise of Brigadier Dimitrios Ioannidis to power. EOKA B, the conspiratorial group used by the junta against the Archbishop had often attacked the government and even tried to assassinate Makarios in October 1973. But the Archbishop was no less politically ruthless than his opponents. He had bolstered his own power by posting loyal functionaries in vital posts, creating a police praetorian guard, the so-called Auxiliary Corps or Efedrikon, arming his followers, jailing opponents indiscriminately and isolating Greek officers from their commands.

Ioannidis and his supporters wanted Makarios out and ordered the coup, which they believed the US and its allies supported. The Greeks executed the coup on July 15 but it didn’t go well. Greek officers expected little opposition and were taken aback when Cypriots rebelled. Firefights ensued at the Presidential Palace, the CyBC state radio station, the barracks of the Auxiliary Corps and elsewhere. But the Greeks didn’t kill or capture Makarios, who fled with the help of loyalists to the Monastery of Kykkos and then to Paphos, where he tried to organise a small army. That effort failed, so he took refuge at a Finnish UN post. From there he contacted the British, who flew him to the UK.

cyprus_archbishopric_palace.jpg  A soldier stands beside the Archbishopric Palace, Makarios’ fire-damaged residence in Nicosia after an Athenian-launched coup to kill Makarios was botched on 15 July 1974.

The coup hurt Cyprus’ armed forces and National Guard. Half of the Cypriots supported Makarios, while the others wanted him out. Morale was low. Cypriots worried as internal rivalries tore apart their country while Greek officers had seen many casualties in the coup.

Operation Attila > Safe in exile, Makarios called on the guarantor powers to reinstate the status quo ante. This was all the pretext needed by Ankara. Bulent Ecevit, Turkey’s prime minister at the time, ordered an invasion, codenamed Attila.

Greeks knew about the attack and so did the Cypriots, since rumours had been circulating for some time that the Turks were planning an invasion. At the National Guard Headquarters in Nicosia, a major rushed out to calm spirits and told the assembled officers: “There is nothing to worry about. We were told from above, i.e. Athens, that it’s just a show of force… There is no problem. Gentlemen, you’re going to sleep.”

Six minutes after sunrise on July 20, 1974, Turkish aircraft began pounding targets on the island. Despite earlier reassurances from the National Guard, the commander of the Greek forces situated in Cyprus, ELDYK, spread out his forces and all other Cyprus’ National Guard units did the same. The result obvious, many died in the Turkish attacks.

turkish_tanks_invade.jpg  Turkish tanks advance on Greek-Cypriot positions in July 1974.

The attack was not initially successful. The beachhead was limited to a small area of land west of Kyrenia. The forces came ashore about an hour and a half later than planned and were little more than a regiment, a battalion with no tanks and a handful of M-113 APCs. The Turks stayed put, and when the Cypriots got their wits together and subjected the foothold to fire the scene turned into a slaughter. The Turks could not be dislodged.

The National Guard was engaged on all fronts with operations against the Turkish-Cypriot home guard reinforced by paratroopers holding out in various pockets throughout the island.

Lesvos and Kotzadeppe > The landing ship Lesvos was to take around 500 fresh troops to ELDYK from Loutraki, Greece. It left the town on July 13 and was scheduled to arrive two days later. But while approaching, the ship’s captain, Commander E. Handrinos, learned of the coup and decided to wait it out, cruising for a couple of days around the island. The ship finally docked at Famagusta on July 19 and began taking troops that were being discharged or relocated from ELDYK to Greece. The transport ship was well away from the harbour and ready to depart Cyprus waters. Lesvos made a rapid turnaround and anchored in the small harbour of Paphos. Soldiers who had been picked up got off and headed for Nicosia aboard buses.

Handrinos resolved to fight, even though his was not really a combat ship. It did, however, have two quadruple 40mm Bofors mounts for anti-aircraft duties. In Paphos the Turks had holed up in the castle by the sea. Lesvos opened fire with all of its guns. The Turks surrendered but they told their central command that the Greek navy had attacked them. Handrinos knew delay meant suicide. In the dark, he guided the ship away and headed due south towards Africa. The Turkish airforce never found them.

After intensive searches between Cyprus and Rhodes, Turkish aircraft spotted three destroyers near Paphos at around 2pm. As Mehmet Ali Birand recounts in his book Decision: Invasion, the Turkish pilots that rushed to the scene 10 minutes later thought the Turkish flags flying there were set up by cunning Greeks. Groups of three to four aircraft would dive on the ships every 10 minutes. They immediately began pouring hundreds of rounds of cannon fire and all of their rockets on the ships. Even when the officers aboard the ships went on the radio explaining they were Turks, the pilots dismissed it. As a result the destroyer Kotzadepe sank and the other two vessels suffered extensive damage. Of the destroyer’s crew of 270 less than 100 survived.

Fated flight > Meanwhile back in Athens, the junta had dispatched aircraft to Crete and submarines towards Cyprus. But the fear of war with Turkey, despite a very advantageous Greek arsenal, at the time precluded any use of these assets. So it was decided to send the First Paratrooper Battalion to Cyprus using 15 available Noratlas transport aircraft. The flight was to take place at night, on July 21. The aircraft were old and the mission was more or less a flight into disaster. The mission took place under extreme secrecy, since it was feared that any hint of it would reach the allies, who would then tell the Turks. Other problems included the airfield in Nicosia, which was littered with the debris of destroyed commercial aircraft and full of craters from bombs and rockets. The general staff at Athens gave orders to the National Guard to patch the holes and remove the main obstacles under total secrecy.

The aircraft went to Crete and picked up the commandos. One of them, Athanasios Zafiriou, barely made it back to his unit as he was out with a truck on chores. He later recalled the soldiers’ enthusiasm when they were told they would be going to Cyprus. None of the men had parachutes, as they were to disembark after landing. Before heading out, Zafiriou scooped up a handful of dirt from Crete and dropped it in his pocket. The aircraft took off at 11pm. The flight to Cyprus was carried out at an altitude of 500 feet above the dark sea to avoid radar detection, at a speed of 140 knots and at five minute intervals. Each plane had around 30 commandos aboard. The aircraft had enforced radio silence and had turned off their navigation lights. Two aircraft lost their way and landed on Rhodes, something which many hold against their crews to this day.

The aircraft reached Nicosia around 2am and those aboard could see the fires burning around the city and on the rest of the island. Two anti-aircraft batteries situated close to the airport disregarded orders to “bind” their guns and fired onto the aircraft, thinking it was Turkish. The fire hit the third Noratlas coming in to land. Zafiriou was on board. According to his recollections, the aircraft was hit by a large shell that started a fire and probably killed the crew as it spun out of control. Zafiriou recalls that the ammunition boxes he was resting his feet on caught fire. Most of his comrades had been killed and he was on fire. As he made his way to the door, he opened it and jumped. The Noratlas crashed 160m away. Zafiriou suffered severe wounds and has since been confined to a wheelchair. The aircraft was carrying 28 commandos and a crew of four. Another Noratlas was also hit. This time two died and another nine were wounded.

Four aircraft never left Cyprus: The two aircraft hit, another because of engine failure and still another because of lack of fuel. The disabled aircraft were cut up and the pieces removed in order to hide any Greek intervention.

Epilogue > The end of these events is more or less known. A ceasefire was brokered a few days later. In Athens the junta fell and the government of National Unity under Constantine Karamanlis took power. Makarios returned to Cyprus.

But the Turks continued to flex military muscle in the area. They sent soldiers, vehicles and supplies to their beachhead, which they had linked with the Nicosia Turkish-Cypriot pocket. On August 15, 1974, they executed Attila II, the operation that resulted in the occupation of the northern third of Cyprus that remains to this day.

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Group proposes the opening of occupied Famagusta July 29, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Cyprus Occupied.
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Status of inhabitants remains unclear

A group of Turkish Cypriot organisations have put forward a proposal for the opening of Famagusta, currently under Turkish military control and occupation since July 1974, but its status and the chances of the return of the rightful inhabitants remain unclear.

Famagusta Mayor Alexis Galanos, who seemed to be aware of the moves leading up to the proposal, said he personally viewed it in a positive light but stressed that any initiative on Famagusta should be placed on the agenda of the July 8 agreement.

In an announcement in English, Greek and Turkish under the title “Proposal for the revival of Famagusta including Varosha,” the eight associations state: “Famagusta, including Varosha, offers a breakthrough opportunity to be a model of interaction, communication and cooperation of Greek and Turkish Cypriots at various levels, serving as an example for a future re-united Cyprus.”

They then formulate their proposal as follows >

  • “We suggest the establishment of a committee, consisting of Greek and Turkish Cypriot stakeholders and representatives of the two communities, which will work under the auspices of the UN and/or the EU to create an action plan for the realisation of the above objective.
  • “This action will have multiple positive effects both for the greater region of Famagusta and its people, as well as for the whole of Cyprus:
  • “It will enable the inhabitants of the ‘ghost city’ to revive and revitalise the city.
  • “It will allow the development of the region in various aspects.
  • “It will bring movement to the present stalemate and hope to the people of Cyprus that a positive change is possible.
  • “It can be an example of collaboration for joint ventures and investments by different business circles with various backgrounds and expertise.
  • “It will allow the internationally-approved, lawful operation and further development of the Famagusta port for mutual benefit.
  • “It will support the on-going process for the protection of the walled city of Famagusta as a UNESCO cultural heritage site.
  • “Multicommunal and multicultural education institutions at all levels can be initiated and the learning of each other’s language by the two communities encouraged.”

The proposal is signed by the New Cyprus Party, the German Cypriot Forum, Hands Across the Divide, Friends of Nature Cyprus, the TC Teacher’s Trade Union (KTOS), Cyprus Art Association, Rights and Freedoms Association, Cyprus-EU Association.

According to information from reliable sources, the initiative was originally clear on the need to return Famagusta to its Greek inhabitants, but this met with fierce hostility from the Turkish occupation regime, which exercised strong pressure on the associations to water their proposal down. The regime particularly turned the screw on KTOS, whose members could face direct consequences in their employment, while also trying to discredit the leaders of the initiative. This is clearly reflected in reports of the Turkish Cypriot press.

The daily Volkan, on July 16, alleged that KTOS General Secretary Sener Elcil and the General Secretary of the United Cyprus Party Izzet Izcan, “who wanted the Greek Cypriot property in Varosha and the so-called TRNC to be returned to the Greek Cypriots,” were in fact exploiting Greek Cypriot properties.

According to the opposition daily Afrika, Elcil submitted a proposal package to the so-called prime minister Ferdi Sabit Soyer consisting of 7-points, one of which called for the return of the occupied closed city of Varosha to its pre-1974 owners and the demilitarisation of the whole island.

“Varosha, the part of Famagusta which was inhabited by Greek Cypriots before 1974, has been kept as a bargaining point till today, it is neither inhabited nor used in any way,” the introduction to the proposal said, and added: “This ‘ghost city’ as it has been characterised, is perhaps the most striking symbol of the anachronistic conflict and division of Cyprus.”

On a side note, occupied Ammochostos, or Famagusta, including Varosha area, according to information from reliable sources, today is not a “ghost city” as it is so presented. It is a city where Turkish military occupiers and illegal regime are currently living in, taking advantage of the city’s high touristic infrastructure, which belongs to its rightful inhabitants, who are the Greek Cypriots. According to the same reliable sources, the illegal Turkish regime, has taken advantage of the Greek Cypriot History and Heritage, advertising and promoting occupied Famagusta’s rich history, such as the Othello’s Tower, Ancient Salamis, Saint Barnabas Monastery and Saint Nicholas Cathedral as being few of the many examples, as being their own history and heritage!

This is just one example as how the illegal Turkish regime and occupying military force, for the last 33 years since July 1974, is trying to change history’s roots, altering all demographics, altering all original Greek names of the occupied towns and villages, taking advantage of the hotel infrastructure that Greek Cypriots builted on their own homeland. 

Ankara to answer for violation of Greek property rights in Turkey July 29, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Cyprus Occupied, Greek Diaspora, Politics.
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Apart from the usurped properties of Greek Cypriot refugees in the part of Cyprus occupied by its army, Turkey now has to answer before the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) for the violation of Greek property rights in Istanbul.

The Strasbourg-based ECHR has recently reviewed an individual application filed in 2002 by two brothers, who have been denied their family inheritance in Istanbul because they are Greek citizens and Christian Orthodox.

According to one of their lawyers, Achilleas Demetriades, known from the landmark Titina Loizidou case, the Court has decided that the case is a serious one and worth considering and has therefore asked the respondent government of Turkey to submit its observations by the middle of September.

“When this happens, the applicants will be afforded the opportunity to give their comments and submit their claim for the damages they sustained,” Demetriades said. He added: “The importance of the case is huge, as a successful outcome would open the way for thousands of Greeks originating from Turkey but who do not have Turkish nationality to claim the property rightfully left them by their forefathers.”

Demetriades is appearing for the brothers Ioannis and Evangelos Fokas together with lawyer D. Geldis, who is practicing in Katerini, Greece. The applicants’ property consists of three buildings in Istanbul, one of them an apartment block, as well as income from rents, deposits and valuable documents and deeds.

The two brothers aged 61 and 58 inherited the property from their sister Polyxeni Pistika-Foka, who was adopted in 1954 at the age of 11 by the couple Apostolos and Elisavet Pistika, both Turkish nationals of Greek origin. The adoption was made in accordance with the decisions of both the Greek and Turkish courts.

Following the death of her adopted parents, their property was transferred to Polyxeni by way of inheritance in July 1987 by order of the Istanbul 3rd Civil Court. A few years later, in 1991, Polyxeni Pistika-Foka was admitted to the psychiatric department of the Balikli Rum, Greek, hospital in Zeytinburu and the authorities appointed a guardian for her affairs, despite efforts by her brother Ioannis to appoint a guardian of his choice.

In 1997 the Turkish authorities proceeded to annul the 1987 inheritance order for Polyxeni under a 1964 Legislative Order, according to which a natural person holding Greek nationality has no right to inherit in Turkey. They also said that they could do this on grounds of reciprocity because the Greek government applied similar provisions to persons of Turkish origin living in Greece. The annulment was confirmed by the Court of Cassation the next year and Polyxeni was deprived of all her property and income and remained in hospital without resources until her death in April 2000.

In September 2000 her brothers filed a petition with the Beyoglu Magistrates’ Court for a certificate of inheritance. The Court, once again invoking the reciprocity grounds, dismissed their petition in regard to the immovable property, accepting it only for the movable assets. Polyxenis’ brothers repeatedly appealed the negative decision unsuccessfully.

Commenting on the reciprocity argument used by the Turkish side, Achilleas Demetriades said: “The Turkish argument that this should be allowed in view of a similar practice in Greece is not simply valid, because two wrongs don’t make a right.”

He expressed the hope that this would not prevent the Greek Government from exercising its right under the European Convention on Human Rights of participating in the process before the ECHR, in order to assist the applicants who are Greek citizens.

Greece’s President attends memorial service for Makarios in Cyprus July 29, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Cyprus News, Cyprus Occupied.
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President of the Hellenic Republic Karolos Papoulias on Sunday attended a memorial service marking the 30th anniversary since the death of Archbishop Makarios, who was Cyprus’ first President, on August 3, 1977 at the Kykkos Monastery where he was buried.

The memorial service was also attended by Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos and the Cyprus Republic’s military and political leadership. A memorial tribute to Makarios was delivered by Kykkos Metropolitan Nikiforos, who noted that “if Archbishop Makarios had been allowed to live, at precisely that crucial moment, the course of things would have been different and Cyprus would be different today”.

Nikiforos also commented on Papoulias’ presence at the memorial service, saying that it was “proof of Greece’s continued interest in the tragedy and the struggle of Cyprus, on the final outcome of which depends the further course of the Nation”.

Following the service, Papoulias and Papadopoulos together visited and laid laurel wreaths at Makarios’ grave, situated at Throni, near the Kykkos Monastery. The two Presidents also met in the evening after Papoulias arrived on Cyprus on Saturday for the three-day events commemorating Makarios. Answering reporters’ questions, Papoulias said that “everything had been warm, friendly and patriotic”.

On Sunday afternoon, the Greek President is due to have successive meetings with the Presidential candidates Dimitris Christofias and Ioannis Cassoulides, after which he will address a literary memorial to Archbishop Makarios where Greek Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos is to be the main speaker.

In an exclusive interview with the Cypriot newspaper “Fileleftheros” that was published on Sunday, Papoulias referred extensively to the Cyprus problem and stressed that relations between Greece and Turkey could never be fully normalised as long as this remained unsolved. “The wound of the Cyprus issue imparts its own special weight on Greek foreign policy also,” Papoulias said, adding that the event was a decisive factor in ensuring the full alignment of Athens and Nicosia.

Recounting his own experiences as Foreign Minister of Greece and his encounters with some 12 Turkish foreign ministers, he stressed the role of the military “deep state” in Turkey and said that this gave Turkey’s foreign policy a remarkable continuity and consistency but did not necessarily make it free of mistakes. He also noted that the government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan now faced the challenge of freeing itself from being a hostage of this “deep state” and that the results of the latest general elections gave the Turkish premier the popular mandate to proceed down this path.

“The rise of nationalism, however, as this was expressed with the return of the Nationalist Movement Party to Parliament is not a good omen. Also of exceptional importance is the presence of Kurdish MPs, because the Kurdish issue has taken on explosive dimensions. Time will tell, therefore, if the time has come for an internal revolution in Turkey,” the Greek President added.

Regarding the chances of such an “internal revolution” taking place, Papoulias merely pointed out that Turkey was at a turning point where it wanted to proceed on a path of European accession but, in order to achieve this, needed to “resolve its contradictions”. “In a European country there cannot be a danger or threat of a coup. A European country is governed by those that the people have chosen,” Papoulias stressed, adding that Turkey had a “long road ahead” before it became European.

At other points in the interview, he also noted that the Greek Cypriots had a right to decide their future without being pressured and that the vast majority of them had rejected the Annan plan, while adding that a solution to the Cyprus issue be based on the the rules of international law and the resolutions of the UN Security Council.

Fare-free travel under new public transport plan in Cyprus July 29, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Architecture Cyprus, Transport Air Sea Land.
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An ambitious public transport plan announced by the Cyprus government promises comfortable buses every 10-15 minutes running 16 hours a day, and possibly a tram service for Nicosia and Limassol in an attempt to lure commuters away from their cars.

The new transport plan, when in place, will be offered free of charge to the public for 1-2 years in order for them to get to know it, the Head of the Project Management Team, Michalis Lambrinos, said. “All the issues are open, we know what the alternatives are and we are open to dialogue in order to make this a success,” he added.

Cyprus trails sadly behind all other EU countries in the use of public transport with only 2% of the population bothering to take a bus, most of this meagre percentage is made up of foreign workers and schoolchildren. Successive governments have deplorably failed to address the issue, resulting in the island being swamped by private cars, 520,000 is the latest figure, at a chillingly high cost of human lives lost in road accidents, damage to the environment from exhaust fumes and a soaring fuel import bill.

Announcing the plan at a press conference in Nicosia, Communications and Works Minister Haris Thrassou said that the government aims to spend Cy£275000 over the next 10 years, in order to increase the use of public transport to 10% by 2015. The EU will chip in 50 million euros from its structural funds, which will be spent first, the Minister said.

Starting this year, implementation measures involve the drawing up of public transport master plans for each town and district, preparation of contract terms for the management of public transport, specifications for new buses and big new junction in Nicosia, Limassol, Paphos and Paralimni.

The actual system will feature bus lanes on a large scale with bus priority at traffic lights, new sheltered bus-stops equipped with electronic information boards, automatic ticket sales and the construction of central bus stations. The system will be completed with park-and-ride facilities outside towns, where commuters from the regions would leave their cars and catch a bus into town, coupled with restricted access of cars to the city centre.

There will be two such park-and-ride facilities for Nicosia, one at the GSP stadium, for motorists coming from the south and south-east and one at the Makarios Stadium, for the western and southwestern approaches to the capital. In order for the system to be able to function smoothly, the urban road network would have to be completed and pavements constructed everywhere.

The island-wide introduction of school buses, currently on a trial basis, is relied upon both to enhance passenger capacity and to create awareness of public transport in the long run. It will cost a total of Cy£10 million for the school-bus project.

Asked if the school bus will be compulsory, Lambrinos said that the aim of the new transport system was to avoid anything compulsory. He noted that a “means of mass communication” was also envisaged as a possibility for Nicosia and perhaps Limassol, most probably in the form of a tram service, but said many considerations would have to be weighed before making a final decision.

One of the issues that remain open is the ownership of the future public transport. Lambrinos, who is Public Works Department Senior Executive Engineer, said that the government favoured private ownership in accordance with its free competition philosophy. He noted that preliminary contacts with some of the existing bus companies had shown they were interested in having a part to play in the new system. This, he added, would have to be examined from the legal point of view, including the EU, which prevented state subsidy.

Other forms of ownership, although remote, could not be ruled out, such as the government’s Road Transport Department forming a private company together with the Municipalities concerned, or a public utility company even. Lambrinos noted that the ownership question would have to be addressed when the time came to purchase the new buses. This would start at the end of 2007 and the total cost is estimated at Cy£86 million.

In order to facilitate the implementation of the public transport programme, the government has allocated more than £1 million for the purchase of services from the private sector. “What is of crucial importance is to specify as accurately as possible the services that would be offered by the public transport system,” Lambrinos said.

He noted that the system would cover as much of the wider urban areas as possible, with buses running timetables in all of the Municipalities and in the case of Nicosia in Tseri, Yeri and Lakatamia, possibly Deftera as well. At the same time, rural bus routes would be improved as well, encouraging transport companies to pool together so as to be able to cover long and short itineraries.

The bus service could start as early as 5am–6am and finish at 9pm-10pm, with night buses running till later and possibly an all-night service as well. Waiting time at the bus-stop would be about 15 minutes, reduced to 10 minutes in peak hours.

A Steering Committee under the Communications and Works Permanent Secretary will monitor the implementation of the programme scheduled to last from 2007 through to 2013. The President of the Municipalities Union will also participate in the Committee.

The projects envisaged for the completion of the primary urban road network include the following >

  • In Nicosia a new junction at Archangelos Avenue (cost Cy£9million), the Strovolos Northern and Southern Tangential (cost Cy£50million) and the University primary road network (cost Cy£10million)
  • In Limassol a link road between the Limassol Port and Limassol-Paphos highway (cost Cy£14million) and the construction of the northern urban by-pass (cost Cy£6million)
  • In Paphos, improvement on Demokratias Avenue and Tombs of the Kings Avenue (total cost Cy£20.5million) and the airport link road (cost Cy£14million)
  • In Paralimni, construction of the Paralimini-Dherynia road (cost Cy£3.5million) and Kennedy Avenue (cost Cy£11million).

President unveils bust of Cypriot poet Costas Montis July 29, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Events Cyprus, Books Life Greek.
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Poem to be inscribed into Paphos stone > Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos unveiled a bust of celebrated Cypriot poet Costas Montis in Nicosia this week, the first since his death in 2004.

The ceremony took place along Stassinos Avenue facing the Venetian Walls, close to Nicosia’s Eleftheria Square. It was attended by the poet’s family, MPs and many admirers of Montis’ work, which includes, besides poetry, drama and prose. The bronze sculpture is the work of artist Giorgos Mavrogenis and was commissioned by the Photos Photiades Scientific and Cultural Foundation.

Foundation Chairman Photos Photiades, a long-time friend of the poet, announced that an unpublished poem of Montis would be inscribed on an impressive rock in Paphos. “This aged rock set against the nature-blessed sun-kissed land of Aphrodite we considered to be the most fitting and worthy platform for the monument of our great poet,” Photiades said in his speech during the unveiling. He explained that Montis had written the poem specifically for the particular landscape. Photiades invited the state to undertake a more active role in promoting the important literary work of Costas Montis in the international sphere, pledging the Foundation’s support in this effort.

In congratulating the Foundation for its initiative to honour Montis, President Papadopoulos said that unveiling a monument to a poet was different from any other ceremony, because “the true poet speaks God’s language and makes every day of the week a Sunday.” He said that Montis was a poet who “never bothered words unless he had something to say” and who always struggled to charge them with meaning and transcending significance. He added that Montis was able through his poetry to express not only himself but also his countryman and every man, the unchanging man who loves and suffers by the twists of fortune and is moved by the simple joys of life. “Costas Montis the poet was fortunate enough to write in Greek and unfortunate to need to be translated into foreign languages in order to be recognised and vindicated as a great contemporary poet,” the President said.

He dwelt in particular on Montis’ poetry inspired by the freedom struggle of the Cypriot people and on his verses written after the Turkish invasion of the island, which have been put to music and are widely sung. President Papadopoulos concluded by saying that Greek Cypriots would follow Montis’ eternal word so as not to lose their way.

Philologist and author Andreas Pastellas outlined the work of the poet and a choir performed songs based on his lyrics. Speaking on behalf of the family, the poet’s son, Theodoulos Montis, thanked the Leventis Foundation and the Photos Photiades Foundation for the interest they have shown in the work of Costas Montis and expressed the wish that the state would follow suit.

Mycenean grave unearthed July 29, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Archaeology Greece.
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Roadworks in western Greece have unearthed a rare Mycenean grave thought to be well over 3,000 years old and containing important burial offerings including a gold chalice, the Culture Ministry said on July 16.

Archaeologists said it appeared to be the grave of a local military official and was the first time a single grave had been found with such a combination of objects, including a bronze and gold sword, and a bronze spear point, knife and pot. Pottery found in the grave dated it to around 1,200BC.

“It included one dead body in a foetal position, whose bones had disintegrated,” the Ministry said in a statement. “But the burial offerings are in very good condition and especially important.” The Bronze Age grave, found near the town of Agrinio in Aitoloakarnania, measures 1.48 by 0.78 metres and is made with limestone slabs.

The Mycenean civilisation flourished from 1600 to 1100BC, building great walled cities, such as Mycenae, across the Peloponnese. Homer’s Iliad tells of the conquest of Troy by the Mycenean Kings. “This is a very important discovery because it gives us clues as to the social and military dominance enjoyed by the people of this era,” said archaeologist Maria Gatsi, in charge of excavations in the area.