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El Greco celebrations for a week in Athens October 17, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Events Greece, Arts Exhibitions Greece, Arts Museums, Movies Life, Movies Life Greek.
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el_greco_filmscene.jpg  Nick Ashdon interprets the role of El Greco in the film directed by Yiannis Smaragdis.

An “El Greco” week is under way in Athens, with a series of events dedicated to the celebrated painter. The exhibition “Moments from ‘El Greco: The Film’” opened in the Syntagma metro station earlier this week, featuring costumes and photographs as well as paintings used in the movie directed by Yiannis Smaragdis.

el_greco_film_premiere.jpg  Queen Sophia of Spain and director Yiannis Smaragdis at the Pallas Theater during the film’s premiere night

The film’s premiere took place on Monday night, in the presence of Queen Sofia of Spain, the Greek President Karolos Papoulias and the Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis. At the premiere, Smaragdis noted that the film is a 10-year journey that has now come to an end and now belongs to its audiences. The director also spoke about the three artists, Savvas Georgiadis, Stelios Petroulakis and Nikos Moschos, who created the copies of El Greco paintings used in the film, becoming the artist’s “hand.”

British actor Nick Ashdon, who takes the role of the celebrated artist in the film, spoke of what he felt was a great honor in being asked to interpret the part and how he came to see things through the “Cretan soul.” Juan Diego Botto, Nino de Guevara in the film, mentioned another dimension: “The film talks about how power can burn people, something that is also very contemporary.”

Queen Sofia of Spain was expected to inaugurate the “El Greco and his Workshop” exhibition at the Museum of Cycladic Art last night. Featuring 58 works from major Spanish Museums, including a number of original El Greco works, the show opens to the public today. The exhibition runs to 5 January 2008.

Museum of Cycladic Art, 4 Neophitou Douka Street, Kolonaki, Athens, tel 210 7228321 – 3. Nearest metro station “Evangelismos”.

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Greek modern art in Beijing October 17, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Exhibitions Greece, Hellenic Light Asia, Olympic Games.
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The Asian capital welcomes an exhibition highlighting the artists’ relationship with their ancient legacy > Nikos Engonopoulos’s 1957 ‘Orpheus’ is one of the exhibits.

Just 10 months before the Olympic Games kick off in Beijing, a modern art exhibition in the Asian capital will highlight the relationship between Greek artists and antiquity. As the Cultural Year of Greece in China is already under way, with its official opening scheduled to take place this week, Greek Minister of Culture Michalis Liapis will inaugurate “Classical Memories in Modern Greek Art” at the Capital Museum of China tomorrow. The exhibition will run to November 16, before traveling to Greece where it will go on display in early December.

The exhibition was first showcased at the Onassis Cultural Center of the Alexander S. Onassis Public Benefit Foundation in New York in 2001, though on a smaller scale. The foundation took the initiative to support the current project, which is jointly organized by the Greek National Gallery and the Ministry of Culture. Works by a variety of contemporary Greek artists, from the so-called 1930s generation to the present, will demonstrate the different ways in which antiquity has influenced modern Greek creation.

“This exhibition is very appropriate, since both Greece and China have two of the most important ancient legacies,” said Marina Lambraki-Plaka, Director of the National Gallery, at a press conference on Monday. She explained that the dialogue between Greek artists and antiquity did not come about easily and was in essence started by artist Constantinos Parthenis after WWI, at a time when all of Europe was getting reaquainted with its local traditions. “Younger generations experience their legacy as a debt and the dialogue between Greek artists and our ancient legacy started very late. This exhibition is highly indicative of what has been happening in Greece from the 1920s to today. At the same time, it demonstrates the complex dialogue between modern Greek artists and antiquity.”

“Greece is based on its past but lives in the present, although unfortunately the latter is not very well known. This display will show that Greece has a presence today and that it produces important art,” said Anthony S. Papadimitriou, President of the Foundation.

Participating artists include members of the groundbreaking “1930s generation” movement, which revolutionized Greek visual arts and literature, as well as more recent artists. All have been inspired not only by what is perceived as the classic stereotypes of antiquity, but also by Byzantium and Greek folk culture and have depicted their experiences in a variety of forms. There are paintings by the man who had a decisive influence, both through his work and his teaching, on the development of 20th century Greek art, Constantinos Parthenis (1878-1967), by prominent surrealist artist and poet Nikos Engonopoulos (1907-1985) and cubist Nikos Hadjikyriakos-Ghikas among others. More contemporary artists include Yiannis Psychopedis, Alekos Fassianos and Christos Bokoros.

Besides the aforementioned artists, “Classical Memories in Modern Greek Art” will also feature paintings and sculpture by Ioannis Avramidis, Christos Caras, Tassos Christakis, Ilias Dekoulakos, Achilleas Droungas, Georgios Gounaropoulos, Christos Kapralos, Sarantis Karavouzis, Giorgos Lazongas, Michalis Manoussakis, Giorgos Mavroidis, Yannis Moralis, Dimitris Mytaras, Nikos Nikolaou, Angelos Papadimitriou, Dimitris Perdikidis, Paris Prekas, Sotiris Sorongas, Panayiotis Tanimanidis, Panayiotis Tetsis, Thodoros, Yiannis Tsarouchis and Spyros Vassileiou.

Marfin Popular Bank eyeing Russian acquisition October 17, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Business & Economy.
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Marfin Popular Bank, which has bought three foreign banks over the past two months, is considering an acquisition in Russia as part of its plans to expand internationally, the lender said yesterday.

“Marfin Popular… is considering the purchase of a bank in Russia. Investors will be informed promptly if final decisions are taken,” the lender said in a stock exchange filing. No further details were given.

MPB on Monday agreed to buy a 43 percent stake in Maltese lender Lombard Bank Malta (LBM) for 48.3 million euros ($68.78 million). Earlier this month, MPB’s parent Marfin Investment Group (MIG) bought a 50.1 percent stake in Estonian Bank SBM for about 6.5 million euros. The stake was transferred to MRB.

Greek Government stays cool as oil prices soar October 17, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Business & Economy, Energy.
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In euro terms, the average price of oil declined in January-September, compared with 2006

The performance of the economy and the execution of the present and the 2008 budget are under a new threat due to the soaring prices of international oil.

The government so far has been keeping its cool, as the rise of the euro against the dollar works as a protective shield for the Greek economy. In the year’s first nine months, the average price of oil per barrel was at $67.10, against $67 in the same period in 2006. Yet the average rate of the euro against the dollar was $1.34 in January-September this year against just $1.24 last year. This results in a 7.4 percent annual decline of the actual price per barrel from 53.80 per barrel in 2006 to 49.80 per barrel.

The 2007 budget was drafted on the assumption of an average price of $68.50 per barrel. In this sense and provided that the current high oil rates will not continue for long, the calculations of the government for the main elements of the economy will not be overturned.

For 2008, the Economy Ministry is working with the estimate of the European Central Bank (ECB), which expects the average price per barrel to reach $71.90. In fact, next year’s budget was drafted taking $75 per barrel as the average price.

If these calculations are not undone by developments, Ministry officials believe that the impact on the economy will be limited and manageable. After all, the economy has shown remarkable resistance over the last three years when global oil prices soared from 25.52 per barrel in 2003 to 51.91 per barrel in 2006.

Of course the impact of the four-year oil hike on the economy is tangible. According to the ECB, the permanent increase of oil prices by $10 weighs on the inflation by 0.2 percentage points. Therefore the rise of the average oil price from 30.70 in 2004 to 43.90 in 2005 resulted in the increase of adjusted inflation by half a percentage point. On the contrary, core inflation, which does not incorporate changes in fuel and fresh vegetable prices, declined from 3.3 percent in 2004 to 3.1 percent in 2005.

In 2006 with the increase of oil by 8 euros to 51.90 per barrel, the adjusted index declined by 0.2 percent to 3.3 percent, while core inflation fell by 0.4 percent. In 2007 the average price in euros remains lower than that of last year, so it should have a positive impact on inflation. The ECB also suggests that a permanent $10 rise per barrel of oil reduces growth by 0.3 percent, but its low impact on Greek growth in 2005 and 2006 when the economy maintained its momentum shows that growth will remain above 4 percent. The current account balance should also be unaffected.

FYROM move sought October 17, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Politics.
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FM calls for new proposal from UN envoy, cross-party debate

Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis yesterday briefed the Cabinet on developments regarding Greece’s dispute with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) over the latter’s name and called on the United Nations envoy charged with resolving the disagreement to propose a solution.

“Greek diplomacy is awaiting initiatives and a new proposal by Mr Nimetz,” Bakoyannis said after the meeting. UN envoy Matthew Nimetz has not made a proposal since April 2005 when he suggested the composite name Republika Makedonja-Skopje, which was accepted by Athens but rejected by Skopje.

Cabinet Ministers yesterday discussed various scenarios, and Athens’s likely response to each of them, sources said. But Bakoyannis also called for the issue to be debated during a meeting of the national foreign affairs council, comprising representatives of all political parties in Parliament, once the main opposition PASOK has resolved its leadership issues.

Greece’s FM reiterated the government’s support for a “composite and distinct” name for FYROM. In an interview with Kathimerini daily published over the weekend, Bakoyannis called for a “mutually acceptable solution… that will distinguish that country from the Greek region of Macedonia as a geographical entity.” She said the government was determined to break a 15-year-old deadlock and solve the problem. “Burying one’s head in the sand has no place in foreign policy, we have to break this vicious cycle,” she said.

However, Bakoyannis stressed yesterday that Athens would have to consider exercising its veto as a member state of NATO, which FYROM is hoping to join, if the neighboring country retains an intransigent stance on the name issue.

During yesterday’s talks, sources said, Ministers agreed to work toward “creating a positive climate in Brussels” ahead of the assumption of the European Union’s rotating presidency in January by Slovenia, believed to be a staunch supporter of FYROM.

The leader of the far-right Orthodox Popular Rally (LAOS) party, Giorgos Karatzaferis, yesterday took the opportunity to breach the subject during a meeting with Thessaloniki Prefect Panayiotis Psomiadis. “It is time for a final, national stance, on the name issue, and for an end to sensationalist assertions which harm us and serve the arguments of Skopje,” he said.

Greece’s “Child Alert Plan” traces lost girl October 17, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Greece News, Living.
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A 15-year-old German girl who wandered away from her parents during an outing in Dilesi, north of Athens, on Sunday was found in Evia late on Monday after authorities activated a new alert system for missing children.

Sandra Himmel, who ran off from her parents following an argument, was found in a supermarket parking lot after walking several kilometers from Dilesi, via Avlida, to Nea Lampsako in Evia, police said.

Officers launched a search after Sandra’s parents reported her missing. After failing to find any leads, they activated the Amber Alert system, launched in May by police and child protection groups.

Foot patrols, with sniffer dogs, scoured the area. Television channels broadcast the girl’s photo. Informative videos were aired on screens in metro stations and messages flashed up on electronic signposts across the national road network. Even Athens International Airport was informed.

By Monday afternoon, authorities received three telephone calls from citizens claiming to have spotted Sandra and within a few hours she was tracked down.

Longer hours for Athens metro are being mulled October 17, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Transport Air Sea Land.
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Ministry weighs up a test run > The Transport Ministry is looking into extending the operating hours of the Athens-Piraeus Electric Railway (ISAP) and the metro on weekends in a bid to ease evening traffic congestion in the capital and provide commuters with a better service.

Recently appointed Transport Minister Costis Hatzidakis and Athens Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis agreed yesterday to further examine the proposal put forth by the latter. The idea is to extend the operation of the train lines by two hours to 2 a.m. on a test basis on Friday and Saturday nights for two months.

“ISAP has already replied and is reluctant. They believe it will increase their deficits. We are waiting for a response from AMEL, the metro operator,” said Hatzidakis after a meeting with Kaklamanis.

Sources said AMEL gave an initial positive response to the proposal. Athens Municipality officials have put forth the idea in the past as nighttime traffic in the city is often as bad as daytime conditions. Money owed by urban transport organizations is expected to reach almost 490 million euros by the end of the year. Seperate debts owed by the Hellenic Railways Organization (OSE) are seen as reaching 1.1 billion euros by the end of the year.

The expanding metro network has been gaining the support of Athens commuters. According to AMEL figures, the addition of the new station in Aegaleo, western Athens, has resulted in 80,000 more commuters using the metro, bringing the total number of its passengers to 680,000 per day. AMEL officials also pointed out the growing use by commuters of the Kerameikos station, surrounded by restaurants and bars, during the evening hours.

The Transport Minister also confirmed yesterday there will be a fare hike but gave no further details. “We have not reached a decision. This relates to the government in general and, of course, the Finance Ministry,” said Hatzidakis.

Sources said earlier this week that the cost of public transport is set to rise by about 10 percent early next year.