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Greece may allow same-sex marriages March 31, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Gay Life, Greece News.
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Greek authorities are considering adopting a law that would allow same-sex couples to marry in a civil ceremony, the country’s NET TV said on Monday.

The Greek Justice Ministry pledged to establish a working group on the rights of gay couples living together, which would “analyze all aspects of the issue, international practice and the existing domestic legal and social framework.”

The move follows a request by the country’s National Commission for Human Rights that proposed a civil union registry that would allow both same-sex couples to marry. Parliament could approve the law in a few months, national media said.

The current 1982 marriage law does not specify the gender of the groom and the bride. However, civil authorities refuse to marry same-sex couples. They say the move could result in a number of further legal difficulties, including the issue of adoption by gay couples.

The Greek Orthodox Church, which strongly opposes same-sex marriages, called the possibility a “catastrophic bomb” and “a prostitution” which threatened Greek society.

Modern Greece is a largely conservative society, strongly influenced by the dominant church. Civil marriages became legal just 15 years ago, while most Greeks still prefer a traditional Greek Orthodox wedding ceremony. The first Gay Pride parade in Greece was held in 2005.

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Film Director Jules Dassin dies March 31, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Movies Life, Movies Life Greek.
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Hospital officials say American film director Jules Dassin has died in Athens at age 96. Dassin made more than 20 films, including “Topkapi” and “Never On Sunday.” He died Monday, hospital officials said. He married famous Greek actress-politician Melina Mercouri and settled in Athens. 

Veteran US moviemaker Jules Dassin, who died Monday in Athens at the age of 96, was a film noir master who sought exile in Europe after being named during the anti-communist witch-hunts of the 1950s. Dassin married the legendary Greek actress Melina Mercouri, joined her campaign for the return of Greece’s stolen Parthenon Marbles and was eventually awarded honorary Greek citizenship.

Born in Middletown, Connecticut in 1911, Dassin earned a reputation as an innovative director and was one of America’s hottest young filmmakers of the 1940s with films such as “Brute Force” (1947) and “Naked City” (1948). But as an active Communist who never compromised on his beliefs, he was blacklisted at the height of the witch-hunts on leftists unleashed by Senator Joseph McCarthy.

In 1949 Dassin quit the US for Europe, arriving first in London, where he filmed “Night in the City” (1950) starring US actor Richard Widmark and now considered a landmark of the film noir genre. Moving on to France, he produced “Rififi” (“Du rififi chez les hommes,” 1955), based on a novel by Auguste le Breton, and best remembered for a now-legendary heist scene. The 32-minute sequence played without dialogue or music, and the safe-cracking scene was so detailed that Paris police are rumoured to have briefly banned the movie for fear it be too instructive to would-be criminals.

Dassin’s first movie in Greece was “He Who Must Die” (“Celui Qui Doit Mourir” 1957), based on “Christ Recrucified” by the renowned Greek novelist Nikos Kazantzakis. But he would soon have cause to return to the country for good. In 1960, Dassin made “Never on Sunday” a story about an American in Greece trying to save a kind-hearted prostitute. The film won an Oscar for Best Song for composer Manos Hadjidakis, and is considered one of the finest movies ever made in Greece. Dassin himself was nominated for Best Director and Best Script, although in the end he never won an Oscar. More importantly for Dassin however, the film starred Melina Mercouri, one of Greece’s most adored actresses.

Two years after another of his landmark films, another heist movie “Topkapi” (1964), which won Peter Ustinov an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor, Dassin married Mercouri, who also starred in the film.

Merkouri and Dassin never hid their radical politics. Both were active in helping organise Greek resistance among expatriate politicians and artists in Paris against the right-wing junta that ruled Greece between 1967 and 1974. After Mercouri retired from film-making she entered politics, rising to become Greece’s Culture Minister in the 1980s. She made the return of the Parthenon Marbles, taken from Greece in the 19th century and now in the British Museum, a lifelong quest.

Dassin joined her campaign and eventually headed the Melina Mercouri Foundation bearing her name established to secure the marbles’ restitution to Greece. Mercouri died in 1994. Three years later, the Greek state awarded Dassin honourary citizenship for his efforts in their joint campaign.

In 1978, the Cannes Film Festival awarded him a Golden Palm for “A Dream of Passion,” one of his last films. In later years, Dassin retained an interest in politics despite advanced age and failing health. He had two children from his first marriage to violinist Beatrice Launer: Julie and Joe Dassin, a popular singer in 1970s France who died from a heart attack in 1980.

Athens holds its ground in name dispute March 31, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Greece News, Politics.
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Greece and FYROM still at odds as US ups pressure before NATO summit

The Greek government yesterday insisted that it would not be pushed into accepting a compromise on the Macedonia name dispute before Wednesday’s NATO summit, as Western pressure for an immediate solution intensified.

«No solution means no invitation for Skopje to join NATO» Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis told Parliament on Saturday, stressing «only a mutually acceptable solution… can form the basis for constructive relations within the alliance.»

Meanwhile US officials cranked up the pressure on Athens to agree to a settlement so that the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) can join NATO. US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice telephoned Greece’s Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis on Friday night to stress Washington’s resolve. And, sources said, US President George W. Bush is considering inviting Karamanlis and FYROM’s Premier Nikola Gruevski for talks on the matter before the NATO summit gets under way.

Bakoyannis has stuck to her guns, dismissing Rice’s description of the name spat as «something that has to do with antiquity» and stressing, in an interview published in yesterday’s Ethnos, that «we are not a country that takes orders from anyone.» Bakoyannis added that «the pressure of time will not lead us to accept proposals in the form of an ultimatum.»

The Greek FM said she believed United Nations mediator Matthew Nimetz might make a fresh proposal before Wednesday but said, «It will be difficult to reach a solution before the summit.»

But her FYROM counterpart Antonio Milososki said he thought a deal could be struck by then. «We are running out of time but I think the possibility (of an agreement) still exists,» he told reporters on the sidelines of a European Union summit in Slovenia on Saturday. He said FYROM’s parliament will today discuss Nimetz’s latest proposal for a solution to the name dispute – Republic of Macedonia (Skopje) – which is said to have appealed to FYROM.

Milososki and Bakoyannis had been due to hold talks in Slovenia at the weekend but the Greek side canceled the meeting after US pressure intensified.

Most European Foreign Ministers at the Slovenia summit avoided taking a stance on the FYROM accession issue. But Germany’s Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier warned of the regional repercussions of blocking Skopje’s bid to join NATO. «This summit does not have the right to fail and must not replace more stability for less stability,» he said.

31-03-08_poster1.jpg  In the meantime Greece has strongly condemned the appearance of offensive billboards featuring the Greek Flag in Skopje. Greece handed over a protest note to FYROM, requesting an immediate removal of a billboard in Skopje showing a Nazi swastika attached to Greek flag.

Greece’s Ambassador to Skopje, Alexandra Papadopoulou, has been instructed, within the day, to make a strong demarche to the Foreign Ministry of FYROM, requesting the immediate removal of the offensive billboard.

31-03-08_poster2.jpg  “This unacceptable poster, which was circulated via a private initiative and raised on Skopje’s streets, directly insults our country’s National Symbol and our struggle against fascism and Nazism,” Greek Foreign Ministry spokesman Koumoutsakos said.

“This incident demonstrates the huge mistake made by those who invest in nationalism and bigotry. It also confirms, once again, the correctness of Greece’s position that a necessary condition for the establishment of relations of solidarity and allied relations is, in practice, respect of good-neighborly relations between countries and peoples,” he added.

Cyprus patrols March 31, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Cyprus News, Cyprus Occupied, Politics.
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Turkish army chief says troops will stay on island despite peace deal

Turkey’s armed forces chief said yesterday that some 40,000 Turkish troops will remain on Cyprus despite a new peace deal between Greek- and Turkish-Cypriot leaders.

“There is no such thing as pulling troops out tomorrow if there is a peace deal today,” said Yasar Buyukanit, wrapping up a four-day visit to the island’s Turkish-occupied north areas. “The army needs to observe and be fully convinced on how safe Turkish Cypriots are,” he said, according to Agence France-Presse.

A Holy row at Mount Athos March 31, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Greece News.
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Fishermen, residents protest plans to bar port activity at Mount Athos

Dozens of fishermen and residents on Saturday blocked the port of Ouranoupolis, the gateway to Mount Athos on the peninsula of Halkidiki, to protest government plans to restrict activity in the European Union-protected zone.

Protesters lined up 30 boats along the dock to obstruct vessels taking monks to and from Mount Athos, complaining that the planned measures would put local fishermen out of business. Locals also allege that the monastic community has encroached upon public land.

Rehhagel opts to stay with Greece March 31, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Football.
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Greece’s most successful and longest-serving National Soccer Team coach Otto Rehhagel has agreed to extend his contract and try to lead the side to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

The Greek Soccer Federation announced the news in a written statement on Saturday after its President, Vassilis Gagatsis, held talks with the 69-year-old German who guided Greece to their unlikely Euro 2004 victory four years ago. No further details of Rehhagel’s contract were made public.

The German has been with Greece since September 2001 when his first game was a 5-1 home defeat to Finland. However, Rehhagel’s impact was evident just one month later when Greece almost scuppered England’s plans for qualifying for the 2002 World Cup by holding them to a 2-2 draw at Old Trafford.

Rehhagel then led the Greek team to just the second European Championships in its history, before shocking the world of soccer by making it to the final of Euro 2004 and beating hosts Portugal 1-0 in the final. Greece reached the upcoming Euro 2008 tournament as group winners. In total, Rehhagel has been at Greece’s helm for 78 games, winning 43, drawing 16 and losing 19.

Olympic Flame handed to China amid protests March 31, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Olympic Games.
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31-03-08_flame1.jpg  Actress Maria Nafpliotou in the role of a high priestess holds the torch next to the altar with the Olympic Flame during the handover ceremony at a stadium in Athens yesterday. More than 2,000 uniformed and plainclothes police were deployed in the capital at the weekend to ensure the smooth handover of the flame.

31-03-08_flame2.jpg  Greek officials handed over the Olympic Flame to organizers of the Beijing Games yesterday amid minor protests by a pro-Tibetan group. The ceremony was held at the all-marble Panathenaic Stadium, where the first modern Olympics were staged in 1896.

31-03-08_flame3.jpg  Hundreds of police lined the flame’s route, scores of security vehicles followed the torch-bearers and helicopters hovered overhead, the strictest security measures since torch relays were launched at the 1936 Berlin Games.

31-03-08_flame4.jpg  “In 130 days the 2008 Beijing Olympics begin. We and the other nations of the world look forward to this moment,” said Beijing Games organizing chief Liu Qi before accepting the flame. The Games run from August 8 to 24.

31-03-08_flame5.jpg  Protesters holding Tibetan flags and shouting “Free Tibet” and “China out of Tibet” failed to break through the police cordon and get to the final torch-bearer entering the stadium. Police detained 21 Greeks and foreigners for staging the protests but said they would be released later. Several others were moved away from police cordons.

31-03-08_flame6.jpg  Thousands of Greek and Chinese spectators inside the stadium watched as Greek triple jumper Chrysopigi Devetzi carried the torch into the stadium lined with Greek and Chinese flags. Greek Presidential Guards and actresses dressed as ancient priestesses looked on. On Saturday and Sunday, about 2,000 police were deployed around Athens.

31-03-08_flame7.jpg  The torch will be officially welcomed in China today before beginning a worldwide relay, the longest ever, 130 days and covering 137,000 kilometers. Most of it will be on Chinese soil.