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Sacred monsters of dance in first Thessaloniki appearance October 8, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Events Greece, Ballet Dance Opera.
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Sylvie Guillem and Akram Khan will appear on October 31 and November 1.

Sylvie Guillem and Akram Khan, two formidable dancers, will be in Thessaloniki on October 31 and November 1 at the Thessaloniki Concert Hall with their critically acclaimed production, “Sacred Monsters,” which forms a bridge between East and West in a choreography jointly created by both artists. The production has been presented in Greece previously, last June at the Herod Atticus Theater in Athens.

“I am a classical dancer and have been trained as a classical dancer, but I can’t say that I believe in this, that my ‘religion’ is just one style, one technique, one tradition. What I can say is that the ‘space’ in which I dance, following whichever technique, is, to me, a sacred space. The stage is a monster… my sacred monster,” says Guillem.

An original idea by the 33-year-old choreographer from Bangladesh allowed Guillem to participate in an explosive intercourse with Khan in a piece that led her “as far away as possible from the world of the ballerina.”

What does this duo have in store for audiences in Thessaloniki? “Our shared and personal experiences from classical dance,” says Khan. “‘Sacred Monsters’ is a meditation on the journey from the classical to the contemporary world,” adds the choreographer and dancer, explaining this original fusion of two very different worlds.

“The manner in which we achieve this cannot be described because it comes about completely organically. Like the differences and contrasts between the two. The body has the ability to absorb change, to transcend from one world into the other. That is when the body begins to find ways to combine the contrasts. The body is like a brain,” says Khan.

Thessaloniki Concert Hall, 25th Martiou Street, Paralia, tel 2310 895800.

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Shock win for new arrival in Greek soccer October 8, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Football.
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Newly promoted Asteras Tripolis, a rapid climber up the country’s soccer divisions in recent seasons, stunned visiting Panathinaikos 1-0 yesterday for the club’s first-ever win in the country’s top-tier league.

Brazilian striker Rosario slotted in the home team’s winning goal early in the second half to give his club a mid-table placing with four points after four rounds.

Later last night, frontrunner AEK, on nine points from three games, was due to defend both its top spot and its 100 percent record against Panionios, two points behind.

In one of two games played Saturday, defending champion Olympiakos closed in on top spot with eight points from four games after beating visiting Apollon Kalamaria 1-0. In Saturday’s other game, PAOK drew with OFI 2-2.

In the round’s other games, all played yesterday, it was: Ergotelis-Aris, 0-1; Iraklis-Veria, 1-1; Xanthi-Atromitos, 0-1; Larissa-Levadiakos, 3-3.

Athens house prices in 29th place among 38 countries October 8, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Living.
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Prices for residential properties in Greece are especially high, as many buyers find, and despite objections by contractors and developers, the general opinion held by the public cannot be doubted.

However, according to a recent survey by Global Property Guide (GPG), the average sale price in Athens is currently 2,244 euros per sq.m., which ranks Greece in 29th position among another 38 European nations.

By way of comparison, Monaco is the most expensive location to buy an apartment in Europe at 24,900 per sq.m., followed by London at 18,108 per sq.m. and Moscow at 11,500 per sq.m. At the other end of the ladder lies Moldova’s capital, Chisinau, at 902 per sq.m., the city of Skopje at 1,113 per sq.m. and Slovakia’s Bratislava at 1,292 per sq.m. [all prices quoted are in euros].

Considering such data, one could argue that apartments in Greece are cheap, compared to the rest of Europe. But this, factually, is an analysis that’s very far from reality.

The price of goods and apartments is certainly related to the buyer’s income. In GPG’s survey of annual per capita income, quoting data from the International Monetary Fund, Greece lies in 17th place among a total of 38 European countries.

The average income in Greece is estimated at US$21,925 and the average price of apartments at 2,244 per sq.m., compared to Luxembourg’s US$85,444 and 3,934 per sq.m., respectively. It is therefore quite clear that the price of apartments in Greece is not just dear but extremely expensive.

At the same time, however, when we compare nations with a similar per capita income, the Greek residential property market seems relatively cheap. In Spain, for instance, where the property market shares many characteristics with Greece, annual income is estimated at US$29,266, while the average apartment price per sq.m. in Madrid is 5,160, placing the Spanish capital in 10th position of the most expensive European capitals.

“Apartments in Greece are expensive”, says Nikos Hatzitsolis, of Axies valuation firm. “Prices could be much cheaper in relation to their current levels on account of the major drop in interest rates,” he added. A reason that makes home prices high in Greece is the large profit margin set by contractors. “The market is segmented and fully controlled by contractors,” said Hatzitsolis.

The recent drop in demand and higher supply logically should have led to a reduction in prices, even at the expense of contractors’ profits. However, according to Hatzitsolis, given that contractors are not burdened by heavy debts or borrowing, they are in a position to keep prices “locked” at high levels.

Energy sector changes October 8, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Energy.
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The inauguration in a few weeks of the Greek-Turkish gas pipeline, which is planned to be extended to Italy by 2012, and the estimated completion by 2011 of the Bourgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline definitely look set to upgrade Greece’s position on the geopolitical chessboard, from being a mere consumer of energy products.

Nevertheless, we should be wary of great expectations. Besides the fact that the completion of the two projects is still some years away, there also remains some likelihood that they will never be completed, given the complexity of the broader geoeconomic environment. Moreover, geostrategic factors are constantly changing. Once marginalized Turkmenistan is now rising in importance in central Asia and its international relations are improving, mainly with Azerbaijan, the key player in the region. Kazhakstan’s oil reserves are proving much larger than originally estimated, as are Caspian Sea reserves.

Furthermore, American efforts to streamline fuel supply lines are also changing. For instance, the time when Turkey was the US’s darling in the area is long gone and the country is no longer a privileged pipeline route. This also has a negative impact on Greece’s geopolitical importance. Against this background, Brussels has appointed a special mediator for the Nabucco natural gas pipeline, planned to be constructed in countries north of Greece, but has not paid any serious attention to the Turkey-Greece-Italy project.

The pundits say there is a real war going on between northern and southern Europeans in the energy domain and the situation is further complicated by American and Russian rivalry.

Nevertheless, Greece is the oldest EU member in the region and its considerable experience is valuable for itself and its neighbors. If it manages to strike strategic alliances with producer countries it will be able to assume the role of an important mediator between them and the rest of the EU. But for this to happen, such strategic alliances must be pursued energetically. The historical ties with Arab nations are no longer as significant, now is the time of Russia and central Asia.

At the same time, the European Union as a whole must imbue its energy policy with continuity and is in need of a strong central regulatory authority. But the main goal should be to abandon piecemeal pursuits and policies. A serious energy policy needs a continuous forum for consultations among nations and companies, for strategies and energy projects.

Mergers for local government authorities set October 8, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Greece News.
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Ministry preparing to slash number of municipalities, prefectures

The Interior Ministry is making preparations to slash Greece’s Municipalities and Prefectures by more than 60 percent in a bid to improve their efficiency and flexibility within the framework of a plan based on similar European models, according to government sources.

The plan will effectively reduce the number of Municipalities to 400 from 1,034 currently, while the Prefectures will be trimmed to 16 from 52, sources said. This will be completed in two phases. Initially, municipalities will be able to merge voluntarily with nearby peers in a bid to take advantage of financial incentives to be offered by the Interior Ministry.

The second stage of the plan will force the merger procedure in a decision that will be based on different criteria. The Municipality’s location, composition of its population and local growth levels will be among the factors that will be taken into consideration.

In an attempt to help push through the changes without opposition, the government is expected to stress that the mergers will result in structural administrative changes and no cutbacks of services. The conditions are right for this sort of change, said one government source. A number of councils will opt for the change of their own accord in order to find a solution to their financial problems, the source added.

The conservative government hopes the reforms will increase the operational effectiveness of local councils and prefectures, making them more efficient in tackling local problems. Funding for Greece’s regions is expected to grow under the European Union’s Fourth Community Support Framework.

It is the second major local government restructuring effort to take place in Greece in the last 10 years. In 1998, the socialist government merged 6,000 municipalities into 1,033.

Despite coming rather late, the recent initiative of the Interior Ministry to reduce the number of regions, prefectures and municipalities in the country is a significant step.

The government has an obligation to its citizens to quickly push through these ambitious reforms, which will cut the number of regions from 13 to six, of prefectures from 52 to 16 and of municipalities from 1,034 to 400, bringing the Greek system closer to the European model. And this initiative should be promoted despite the provincial attitudes that may try to obstruct it.

After all, in an era of sophisticated electronic and transport networks, distances have been virtually eliminated. The location of each Greek region, prefecture and municipality is, in effect, far closer than it was some 50 years ago.

It is quite clear that the State needs fewer and more effective administrative units in order to become more efficient. This is the only way to ensure that the citizen is being served rather than the cogs of the bureaucratic machine being oiled. In other words, instead of funding mechanisms we could be financing much-needed projects to improve our society.

Greece-FYROM name dispute enters a new, crucial phase October 8, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Politics.
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A proposal from UN mediator Nimetz is expected in November

The diplomatic marathon between Greece and FYROM is also affecting the large number of Greek businesses that have set up branches in FYROM, which have complained about treatment from local officials. 

A new proposal from Matthew Nimetz, UN mediator between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), is expected in November and according to a senior diplomatic source, will show which country has “won” what has turned into a marathon series of talks on the Balkan country’s use of the name “Macedonia.” The next few weeks will therefore be crucial if a mutually acceptable solution is to be found.

The heads of diplomatic missions to NATO member states and the European Union have already been clear instructions as to how to proceed. These instructions essentially constitute a reaffirmation of Greece’s positions on the issue, in such a way as to make it clear that the issue cannot remain pending in view of FYROM’s candidacy for accession to NATO and the European Union. Greece firmly believes that this cannot come about unless the name issue is resolved.

Greek diplomats have also been given set boundaries regarding the terms of any proposal that might be acceptable.

First of all, Greece has accepted that any proposal will have to be in the form of a composite name and that there is no possibility of excluding the use of “Macedonia” or a derivative thereof. However, any composite name will have to be in a form that clearly rules out any possibility that FYROM may raise further claims in the future.

In accordance with the above, names such as “Macedonia-FYROM” or “Republic of Macedonia” will not be acceptable to Greece. Moreover, a composite name will have to be in a form that rules out any further claims by FYROM relating to issues such as the geographical area identified as “Macedonia” prior to 1913, of which the greatest part lies in Greek territory, and also includes territory in Bulgaria.

The Greek Foreign Ministry realizes that no matter how good a composite name might be, it will raise protests on the home front, so a public relations campaign is being devised to prepare political parties and the public.

As for FYROM’s negotiations for NATO membership, which is to be decided next April and will likely increase pressure for a resolution of the name issue, Greece is counting on another, equally important factor. Namely the fact that, according to NATO sources, FYROM is not yet ready; it has not carried out all the necessary reforms required under NATO accession terms. In fact, there are serious doubts as to whether it will be ready by April. Some countries, such as the US, which is pushing for an enlargement of NATO to include Croatia, Albania and FYROM, might be willing to turn a blind eye to that fact, but other powerful members will oppose it. Greece is counting on these countries as allies in the final stretch so that it will not be the only opponent to FYROM membership.

At the same time, Greece is also emphasizing the significance of the fact that a country that fails to comply with the rules of good neighborly relations poses a potential threat to stability in the greater region. Greece has not made any clear mention of the possibility of vetoing FYROM’s membership, seen as a last resort, but Athens will be using every means at its disposal as a member of NATO and the EU.

This Week in Greece > Conferences October 8, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Shows & Conferences.
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Monday

  • The US Embassy in Athens and its consular section will be closed today in observance of Columbus Day, a US national holiday.
  • The National Observatory of Athens in cooperation with the Eugenides Foundation hosts a conference on “Communicating Astronomy to the Public 2007,” at 9 a.m. at the premises of the Eugenides Foundation on Syngrou Avenue. To Friday. For information call 210 6597511 or visit > www.communicatingastronomy.org

Thursday

  • The University of Athens in co-operation with the Greek Institute of Administrative Sciences hosts the second conference of Greek Administrative Scientists on “New Directions in Administrative Science: New Public Management, Corporate Social Responsibility and Citizens’ Society,” at the Department of Business Administration, University of the Aegean on Chios. To Saturday. For information call 22710 35120 or visit > www.ba.aegean.gr
  • The Aristotle University of Thessaloniki hosts the “Aristotle Vascular Experts’ Meeting,” at the Macedonia Palace Hotel in Thessaloniki. To Saturday. For details, visit > www.avem-meeting.gr
  • The Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in collaboration with the Thessaloniki Museum of Photography hosts an exhibition titled “The Image of the Scientist in Greece, 1900-1980,” at the Museum of Byzantine Culture in Thessaloniki. The exhibition will run through November 18. For information call 2310 566716 or visit > www.thmphoto.gr
  • The Ionian University is hosting the second international conference on “Metadata and Semantics Research,” at its facilities on Corfu island. To tomorrow. For information call 26610 87422 or visit > www.mtsr.ionio.gr
  • The Fulbright Foundation hosts the 13th US University Fair starting at 2 p.m. at the Athens Holiday Inn Hotel. For information call 210 7241811 or visit > www.fulbright.gr
  • The Embassy of Canada in Athens hosts a conference on “Studies in Canada,” at 7 p.m. at the Athenaeum Hilton Hotel. For information call 210 7273206 or visit > www.athns.qc.ca

Saturday

  • Aglaia Kyriakou Children’s Hospital hosts a conference on “Current Developments and Opposing Opinions in Paediatrics,” at 9 a.m. at the King George Palace Hotel. For information call 210 7210001 or visit > www.congressworld.gr