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Tourism zoning plan challenged February 1, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Tourism.
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Top consultative body highlights numerous inadequacies, particularly regarding holiday homes

The government’s eagerly awaited special zoning plan for tourism development is coming under heavy criticism from a major consultative body.

Sources say that according to the Economic and Social Affairs Committee (OKE), which comprises union and employers’ representatives, the specific plan for tourism presents greater problems than two similar zoning drafts for renewable energy sources and industry.

OKE reportedly takes the view that the tourism zoning plan is biased toward a particular mode of development and that its treatment of problems arising from tourism investments is inadequate.

In particular, these shortcomings include a limited reference to upgrading existing tourist zones, inadequate restrictions on building outside town plans, the lack of a clear system of entrepreneurial criteria and priority zones (especially in the case of alternative forms of tourism), and inadequate provision for improving the characteristics of mechanisms for the zoning of tourism activities.

OKE is also said to take the view that the draft plan’s treatment of the very important issue of holiday home developments is also questionable. While this is a sector which can provide considerable opportunities for investment and effectively redraw the country’s tourism map, the zoning plan fails to provide adequate guarantees that its development will not result in undesirable side effects.

“This is mainly due to the fact that it does not include satisfactory and convincing terms of reference for zoning with regard to this type of development,” the sources say.

Furthermore, the zoning plan includes provisions that may even function as obstacles to investment, either directly (due to lack of clarity) or indirectly, because of inadequate provision for equitable treatment of the parties involved.

The plan is running five months late compared to the date originally announced. It was launched by the Environment and Public Works Ministry in May last year as the basis of the consultation process with interested parties, which was completed at the end of summer.

The latest development is the submission of proposals by the Tourism Ministry. These include the concept of separately examining each destination in order to determine the potential for development. It is argued, for instance, that an already popular and developed destination must be treated differently to an undeveloped one.

Athenians fight for Kypseli park February 1, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Architecture Greece, Environment.
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Residents of the most densely populated area of Greece – the Athenian neighborhood of Kypseli – revealed yesterday that they are planning to take legal action against the City of Athens over its plans to build an underground parking lot on the site of a park.

There is only 2 square meters of green space for each Kypseli resident and the locals appear determined to halt the plans to alter the park on the corner of Patission and Kyprou streets, which has 44 trees that are more than 100 years old. Work on the site is due to begin in March.

Campaigners began collecting signatures for a petition this week and plan to appeal to the country’s highest administrative court, the Council of State, as soon as a building permit for the parking lot is issued.

The neighborhood’s residents have a successful record of taking action against construction in Kypseli as they recently prevented plans to demolish the old municipal market on Fokionos Negri Street and replace it with a parking lot.

Tough draw for Olympics spot February 1, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Basketball, Olympic Games.
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Greece to face formidable Brazil in basketball qualifying tournament for Beijing Games

Greece coach Panayiotis Yiannakis will be hoping his team benefits from vociferous home support at the Olympics qualifying tournament in Athens, July 14 to 20, where 12 teams will vie for three remaining berths.

Greece will need to overcome Brazil, a formidable force in international basketball, for a place at the Olympic basketball tournament in Beijing, following a draw held in Athens yesterday.

The men’s national team is among 12 contestants that will battle for three remaining Olympic berths at a qualifying tournament to be held in Athens from July 14 to 20. Nine teams have already booked their places.

Besides Brazil, Greece will face Lebanon, on the opening day of play, in Group A. Group B consists of Cape Verde, New Zealand and Germany. Korea, Canada and Slovenia were drawn into Group C, and Cameroon, Puerto Rico and Croatia into Group D.

The top two in each group will advance to the quarterfinals. The winners will go to the semifinals and the two winning semifinalists will qualify for the Olympics. The losing pair will clash for third place and the other berth.

Nine teams have already qualified for the men’s Olympic tournament, August 10 to 24, at the Beijing Games. Angola advanced as African champion, Argentina as Americas runners-up, Australia as Oceania champion, China as host, Iran as Asian champion, Lithuania as the bronze medalist at the Europeans, Russia as the European Champion, Spain as World Champion, and the USA as Americas Champion.

Thousands of Greeks flock to Archbishop’s funeral February 1, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Religion & Faith.
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The body of Archbishop Christodoulos was carried through central Athens, followed by senior clerics and politicians, at his funeral procession yesterday attended by thousands.

Thousands of Greeks filled the center of Athens yesterday to pay their last respects to Archbishop Christodoulos, who was given a state funeral following his death from cancer on Monday at the age of 69.

President Karolos Papoulias, Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis as well as Ministers, Bishops and a 12-member delegation from the Vatican attended a requiem mass at Athens Cathedral, where the Archbishop’s body had lain in state.

The mass was led by Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomaios, who flew to Athens from his base in Istanbul. “With his actions our brother enriched the Church of Greece… (his) death is a great loss for the Orthodox world,” said Vartholomaios, whose relations with Christodoulos had been strained due to a dispute over the management of certain Greek dioceses.

After the service a 21-gun salute boomed as Christodoulos’s open casket was carried through the city center to Athens’s First Cemetery. Hundreds of priests and a 900-soldier guard of honor escorted the gun carriage carrying the coffin, followed by thousands of Greeks of all ages. Mourners lining the streets cried out “immortal”, “martyr”, “farewell” as the coffin wound through Syntagma Square, past the site of the Temple of Zeus and on to the city’s historic cemetery.

Schools, courts and government offices remained closed as Christodoulos was granted honors normally accorded to heads of state. World political and religious leaders, including the Russian and US presidents, Queen Elizabeth II of Britain and Pope Benedict XVI sent messages of condolence.

The Holy Synod is to elect a new archbishop next Thursday. Contenders include Bishop Anthimos of Thessaloniki and Bishop Ieronymos of Thebes.