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Greece lies high on EU list of poor March 28, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Living, Shows & Conferences.
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One in three Greeks does not have access to basic food and clothing, as Greece is home to the second-largest population of poor people in the European Union, on a relative basis.

Nearly 23 percent of Greeks live below the poverty line, ranking Greece in second place on the EU’s list of poorest populations. Portugal has top spot. The minimum monthly salary paid for unskilled work in Greece is 626 euros versus an EU average of 1,160 euros.

Meanwhile, the sixth forum of the World Alliance of Cities against Poverty (WACAP), being held in Athens, entered its second day yesterday.

“The forum… signals the transfer of responsibility for poverty eradication from central to local government, establishing municipalities as determinant factors of development, on both a local and national level,” said Athens Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis.

Participants in the forum, which winds up today, exchanged views on the role of local government and its increased responsibility in the development of initiatives for getting rid of poverty.

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Forum on poverty in Athens March 27, 2008

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Six in 10 Greeks feel they could slip below the poverty line in the years to come, according to figures made public yesterday at a ceremony held to launch an international forum in Athens on fighting poverty.

The sixth forum of the World Alliance of Cities against Poverty (WACAP) was launched with more than 1,000 delegates attending from 300 cities in 100 countries.

“We can no longer continue to feign ignorance,” said Athens Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis. “We know very well that next to the world of progress, development and affluence, there exists a world that is almost totally unprotected and trapped in a deadlock. It is a world of intolerance, poverty and misery,” added the Athens Mayor.

The forum, which lasts until tomorrow, aims at fighting poverty, protecting children and providing basic services to citizens, such as clean water and a decent standard of living.

The theme of the WACAP forum in Athens is the reinforcement of local democratic government.

Greek Church against cohabitation March 18, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Lifestyle, Living, Politics, Religion & Faith.
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In the most emphatic fashion, the Church of Greece’s Holy Synod yesterday declared its opposition to the government’s bid to give unmarried couples greater rights by stating that any form of relationship other than a couple married in an Orthodox Church is tantamount to “prostitution.”

The Synod’s reaction signals an about-turn for Archbishop Ieronymos, who last week appeared to accept that changing the bill was beyond the Church’s sphere of influence.

However, this was completely overturned yesterday when the Synod issued a statement saying that it did not approve of the government trying to make its proposals part of the country’s legal framework.

The new law is set to allow unmarried couples to make their relationship official and legally binding by signing a simple notarial contract. This would give each partner the same rights as if the couple were married.

The Synod said that the draft law constituted a “catastrophic bomb” being placed under the foundations of Greek society. “The Church accepts and blesses the established wedding, according to Orthodox traditions, and considers any other type of similar relationship to be prostitution” the Synod said in a statement.

Sources said that Ieronymos had wanted the Synod to adopt a more moderate approach in line with his comments last week but most of the other 12 members of the Synod seemed to favor a more outspoken stance.

“That was the opinion of one person, this is the opinion of 13,” said Bishop Anthimos of Thessaloniki, a member of the Synod, explaining the difference between Ieronymos’s position last week and this week.

UPDATE >>> 19 March 2008 >>> Ieronymos ire > Archbishop angry with wording of Synod response to cohabitation law

Archbishop Ieronymos, the Head of the Church of Greece, is upset the Holy Synod issued a statement on Monday saying that any form of partnership that is not a marriage sanctioned by the Orthodox Church is “prostitution,” sources said yesterday.

The statement was apparently composed by Bishop Anthimos of Thessaloniki, who insists that the wording was approved by the entire Synod. Sources said that Ieronymos was disturbed with the strong language used in the statement, although he did not object to the Church expressing opposition to the government’s plans to introduce a cohabitation law.

Athens third from last in European property potential list March 14, 2008

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Athens ranked among the last cities in Europe in a survey ranking real estate markets for both investment and development prospects, according to survey results made public yesterday.

The survey, put together by research group Urban Land Institute (ULI) and PricewaterhouseCoopers, ranked Athens in position No 25 out of a total of 27 cities reviewed.

The Greek capital was given a low score due to the difficulties encountered regarding the execution of large projects in the city, the lack of available land and “a growing trend by developers to look for property beyond Athens. Without question, Europe is facing a bumpier ride this year than the last few years,” said Richard Rosan, President of ULI Worldwide. “The fact that many respondents remain confident about European markets points to the still-local nature of real estate. We are seeing a lot of guarded optimism.”

The survey covers countries throughout Europe and is based on surveys and interviews with nearly 500 of the industry’s leading authorities. Moscow and Istanbul took first and second place, respectively.

Athens’ dirty reputation March 14, 2008

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Athens third-grimiest city in EU?

Athens is the third-dirtiest city in Europe, according to a survey carried out by the Tripadvisor travel website. Athens did not feature in the top three of any other category such as “most friendly locals,” “best parks” or “most romantic.”

London was voted the most expensive and dirtiest city by more than 1,100 travelers who took part in the survey. Brussels was deemed to be the most boring, according to the British survey. Paris was voted the most unfriendly city in Europe but was also found to be the most romantic.

If you visited Athens, either on a business or pleasure trip, you have concluded your own opinion. Do share it with us, by adding your comments, thank you!

Information on the go by the City of Athens March 4, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Greece News, Living.
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The City of Athens yesterday started operating a van that will travel parts of the capital to inform residents of municipal projects and to record problems in different areas.

“The new mobile information booth is the first of its kind in Greece and will operate as a tool for consultation and dialogue with Athenians,” said Athens Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis. The van’s first stop will be in Votanikos and on Alexandras Avenue, while between April and June it will visit seven different city districts.

Athens bid to boost greenery February 5, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Environment, Living.
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Athens Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis yesterday announced a “greenery charter” that aims to increase the green surface area in the capital and penalize those who destroy trees and parks.

As a first step, some 25 hectares of land is to be expropriated for the creation of parks and green spaces, at a cost of 112.5 million euros. The ultimate aim is to boost the ratio of green space per citizen to 7.25 meters, as compared to 6.84 meters today, Kaklamanis said.

In order to achieve this, town-planning regulations will be amended to stipulate that one tree must be planted for every 200 square meters of land that is built upon.

As of May, authorities will begin imposing fines for the destruction of green areas, Kaklamanis added, without giving details of what would constitute an offense.

City Hall is establishing two new bodies to implement and oversee the new initiative: a planning service that will seek to create new green areas in the city and a monitoring service that will oversee and protect existing greenery.