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Acropolis Facelifts Near Finish in Greece
20 July 2005

For years, tourists to the Acropolis have been frustrated to find ancient monuments shrouded in scaffolding, thanks to a long and painstaking restoration project. Now, an end is in sight.

Greek cultural officials said Wednesday that work on the Parthenon, the Athena Nike temple and the massive Propylaea gate — treasures built in the mid-fifth century B.C. at the height of Athenian glory — should be finished by the end of next year.

These three works will be finished at the end of 2006, said architect Haralambos Bouras, a senior project official. All three were vitally necessary, and failure to carry them out could have resulted in severe damage to the monuments.

Still, more scaffolding could go up at the Parthenon — the biggest crowd-puller — as projects on the Acropolis hill are expected to continue until 2020.

The multimillion-dollar restoration started 30 years ago, but the complexity of the work and funding snags caused considerable delays, with scaffolding embarrassing authorities during the 2004 Athens Olympics.

So far, the ancient marble structures have survived wars, fires and earthquakes, not to mention decades of modern pollution. Botched restoration efforts in the 1930s used iron clamps that rusted over the years, causing the marble to crack and break.

Work on the Athena Nike temple, an elegant Ionic structure at the entrance to the citadel, started in 1998. The whole building had to be taken down to its foundations.

According to Maria Ioannidou, who is supervising work on all three buildings, the ongoing effort is the biggest restoration project currently under way in the world. The total estimated price tag is $84.4 million.

So far, nearly 1,000 blocks of stone have been removed from the three monuments and 1,100 parts have been assembled from ancient fragments. Restorers used marble from Mount Pendeli, north of Athens, whose ancient quarries provided the original building material. More than half of the blocks have now been treated and put back.

We treat each piece like an individual work of art, Bouras said.

Only one of the four major Acropolis monuments, the Erechtheion temple, has been fully restored. In addition to the Parthenon, further repairs are needed to Propylaea and the wall surrounding the citadel.

Afterward, the hilltop will be landscaped with hundreds of tons of earth.


Foreign Policy and Public Diplomacy' conference opens in Athens
September 9, 2005

It does not suffice that you are feared, you must also be loved, Greece's foreign ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos said Thursday, speaking on the image a country must have in the modern-day international environment, while delivering the opening address of a two-day conference on Foreign Policy and Public Diplomacy that is being held under the aegis of foreign minister Petros Molyviatis.

Also addressing the opening session of the conference, Molyviatis described public diplomacy as the entirety of coordnated actions aimed at projecting thepersonality of the country and the building of firm relations of cooperation and communication among the states and peoples.

The foreign minister presented the European Union as an example of the successful excercise of public diplomacy among the member countries, based on solidarity, acceptance and respect.

The EU works, and produces results on the basis of consensus, and this is one of the reasons that many countries wish to become a member, Molyviatis said, noting that this meant that they must be prepared for this, namely, to function on the basis of consensus.

Taking the podium in turn, minister of state and government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos underscored that public diplomacy is clearly distinguished from propaganda, adding that the target was for the political word to be convincing, reliable and honest, noting that everything comes out into the open in our age, and that the damage will be much greater if something remains hidden and is learnt later.

Regarding Greece's international image, he said that the goal of the present government was to send a uniform, powerful message with each and every action, and outlined the successful actions that have sent out a strong message on Greece's international image during the Athens 2004 Olympic Games, Greece's participation as a member of the UN Security Council, and the country's presidency of the Security Council in the month of July.

The conference will also broach the theme Public Diplomacy: Determining its content, role and possibilities as a foreign policy tool.

Other speakers slated include diplomatic representatives from the United States, Spain, Britain, the Netherlands, Norway and Hungary.

The round table discussions will be coordinated by journalists Alexis Papachelas, Kyra Adam, and George Kapopoulos.

Author : Athens News Agency

Athens mayor wins World Mayor Award
December 3, 2005

Athens Mayor Dora Bakoyannis, widely praised for helping tidy up Greece's crowded capital before the 2004 Olympic Games, won this year's World Mayor Award, organizer of the competition announced Monday.

The 51-year-old Bakoyannis, the city's first female mayor and daughter of Greece's former prime minister, was named winner in anannual competition by the London-based City Mayors Organization.

She was short-listed among 65 of her counterparts from across the globe, including Mayors Veltroni of Rome, Livingstone of London, Delanoe of Paris, and Wowereit of Berlin after over 550 mayors from Asia, Africa, Europe and the US were nominated for World Mayor 2005, the Athens municipality said in a statement.

More than 87,000 people from across the globe cast their votes via the Internet between June and October 2005 for this year's World Mayor Award in accordance with the nominees' contribution tothe welfare of the city and their dedication and efficiency to meet the needs of the citizens.

Bakoyannis won the support of over 7,500 voters, the statement said.

This annual competition aims to raise the profile of mayors worldwide and back demands to give municipal governments increased power and authority, it added.

The City Mayors project has become a comprehensive Internet (non-commercial and independent) platform dealing with the issues facing the world's cities. It examines how city mayors develop innovative solutions to long-standing urban problems such as housing, transport, education and employment, but also how they meet the latest environmental, technological, social and security challenges which affect the well-being of their citizens.

Greater Athens has a population of about 4 million people, while the City of Athens has fewer than 1 million residents.

Author : China View

Parthenon safe from soggy ground, says culture minister
December 12, 2005

Athens' ancient Parthenon is not under threat from water seeping into rock beneath it despite successive days of torrential rainfall this week, Deputy Culture Minister Petros Tatoulis said Friday.

There is absolutely no danger, Tatoulis said in a statement. He said no water was escaping through a temporary floor installed inside the Parthenon for restoration work.

Architect Manolis Korres, a key figure in a massive restoration project at the 2,500-year-old monument on top of the Acropolis Hill, warned on Wednesday that rainwater was gradually draining into rock underneath the Parthenon and could eventually weaken the monument's foundations.

Athens and other parts of Greece have been battered by storms and heavy rainfall this week, which caused flooding, limited power cuts, disrupted transport services and caused the death of one woman in southern Greece.

Author : The Canadian Press

The Acropolis voted first worthy rival to the seven wonders of the ancient world
January 2, 2006

The Acropolis in Athens made it, as did Angkor Wat temple in Cambodia, China's Great Wall, the Colosseum in Rome, the Inca temple of Machu Picchu in Peru, Stonehenge and the Moai - the Easter Island statues. Less immediately obvious choices in a final shortlist of 21 contenders for the New Seven Wonders of the World, announced in Switzerland yesterday, included the Kremlin in Moscow, the Eiffel Tower and the Statue of Liberty.

More than 19 million voters have so far taken part in what its organisers call the world's first global voting campaign, nominating hundreds of sites they consider worthy rivals to the seven wonders of the ancient world named by Antipater of Sidon and Philon of Byzantium in 200 BC. The original selection was a must-see travel guide for well-heeled Athenians of the day: the monuments, including the Colossus of Rhodes and the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, were all in the Mediterranean basin. Only the Pyramids of Giza remain. While they also made it safely on to yesterday's shortlist, many more recent wonders failed, among them the Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank building in Hong Kong, the Opera House and National Congress in Brazil, and Stari Most, the bridge in Mostar, Bosnia Herzegovina.

The New Seven Wonders initiative was launched in 2000 by the Swiss film producer, author and aviator Bernard Weber. Half of the profits from the project, which has secured lucrative TV deals, will go to restoring and preserving monuments and buildings around the world, including a plan to restore the giant Bamiyan Buddhas in Afghanistan.

Yesterday's shortlist was drawn up from the 77 most popular sites by a panel of seven expert judges chaired by the former Unesco secretary general Federico Mayor, and including leading international architects such as Britain's Zaha Hadid, Tadao Ando from Japan and Cesar Pelli from America.

After a series of TV specials on each of the sites and a year of public voting the winners will be announced on January 1, 2007, at an Olympic-style ceremony in a host city which has yet to be selected.

The project is not the first to attempt to come up with modern-day equivalents for the wonders of the ancient world. The American Society of Civil Engineers named the monuments that best demonstrate modern society's ability to achieve unachievable feats and reach unreachable heights - the Channel Tunnel, the CN Tower in Toronto, the Empire State Building, the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, the Itaipu Dam in Brazil, the Panama Canal and Holland's North Sea protection works. None appeared on yesterday's shortlist.

Author : The Guardian

January 17, 2006

As expected, 38 countries will participate in the 2006 Eurovision Song Contest, which takes place in Athens, Greece. The European Broadcasting Union confirmed that moments ago. Armenia joins the big family, while Austria and Hungary will stay home.

The semifinal (24 countries) on 18th May;
  • Albania (RTVSH)
  • Andorra (RTVA)
  • Armenia (PTV)
  • Belarus (BT)
  • Belgium (VRT)
  • Bosnia & Herzegovina (PBSBiH)
  • Bulgaria (BNT)
  • Croatia (HRT)
  • Cyprus (CyBC)
  • Estonia (ETV)
  • Finland (YLE)
  • FYR Macedonia (MKRTV)
  • Iceland (RUV)
  • Ireland (RTÉ)
  • Lithuania (LRT)
  • Monaco (TMC)
  • The Netherlands (NOS)
  • Poland (TVP)
  • Portugal (RTP)
  • Russia (C1R)
  • Slovenia (RTVSLO)
  • Sweden (SVT)
  • Turkey (TRT)
  • Ukraine (NTU)

    The following 10 countries already qualified for the final on 20th May;
  • Denmark (DR)
  • France (France 3)
  • Germany (ARD)
  • Greece (ERT)
  • Israel (IBA)
  • Latvia (LTV)
  • Malta (PBSMT)
  • Moldova (TRM)
  • Norway (NRK)
  • Romania (TVR)
  • Serbia & Montenegro (UJRT)
  • Spain (TVE)
  • Switzerland (SRG SSR idée suisse)
  • United Kingdom (BBC)

    The best 10 songs of the semifinal will qualify for the final.

    The running order of the songs will be determined by a draw to be held during the Heads of Delegation meeting in Athens, on 20th and 21st March.

    Author : Sietse Bakker

  • Eurovision Song Contest 2006 Welcome Party
    March 25, 2006

    The official Welcome Party for the Eurovision Song Contest 2006 will take place on 15th May at the Zappeion Hall, close to the city centre of Athens. Host of the night is the Mayor of Athens, Mr. Theodore Behrakis. The event will combine a cocktail party with an open air concert featuring Eurovision host Sakis Rouvas.

    More parties will be held all over the Eurovision Song Contest week. This year, the Euroclub be located in Technopolis, the 'city of the arts'. The location, a former industrial building, offers three different venues for parties, meetings and concerts. Undoubtedly, several delegations will take the opportunity to organise their very own party in order to promote their representative in the contest.

    The organisation of the Eurovision Song Contest 2006 has also thought about the touristic desires of the 37 delegations. On 14th and 15th May, the artists from the 37 delegations can enjoy a day cruise to three islands: Aegina, Poros and Hydra. On 16th and 17th May, they will be able to go sightseeing in the historic centre of Athens.

    Source: eurovision.tv

    For more information follow the link: Athens 2006 Eurovision contest

    Author : www.Greece-Athens.com

    Greek Independence Day anniversary
    March 25, 2006

    The 185th anniversary of the March 25 Greek national Independence Day, which celebrates the start of the Greek revolution against Ottoman rule in 1821, was celebrated with pomp throughout Greece on Saturday, culminating with a parade by the Armed Forces in central Syntagma Square in Athens in the presence of President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias. March 25 is a dual holiday, as the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary is also celebrated on that day.

    Today we celebrate the biggest historical event of modern Greece. A people almost unarmed, but with a flame in its heart and with a passion for freedom, rose up against an empire and gained its freedom, Papoulias said after the parade.

    This gives us the message that freedom is not given, it is conquered. Today, the people and the Armed Forces are the guarantee for the progress of Greece, for its peaceful coexistence with all the peoples of the region, for peace in the region, which is necessary, the President continued.

    He also expressed conviction that the Greek people, with their patriotism, and the Armed Forces, with their preparedness, would do their duty.

    Prime minister Costas Karamanlis, in a statement, said that the March 25 holiday found the Greeks determined to make reality their visions for a strong and prospering Greece, for a Greece that was a factor of peace and stability in the wider region, for a society of cohesion and solidarity.

    The premier added that we are in the middle of as great collective effort. A difficult effort which, however, we must complete.

    Main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou said that the March 25 anniversary was always timely, as it embodies the struggles and visions of so many generations of Hellenes...Visions for social justice, freedom, democracy, for a society of solidarity. We hold this vision today, too, and are dedicated to those goals.

    Before the parade, a doxology was held at the Athens Metropolitan Cathedral, officiated by Archbishop Christodoulos of Athens and All Greece, and attended by the President, the country's political leadership, the Armed Forces leadership, and the leadership of the Security Corps.

    The doxology was attended by President Papoulias, premier Karamanlis, main opposition leader Papandreou, representatives of the political parties and the local administrations, former Presidents Costis Stephanopoulos and Christos Sartzetakis, the Armed Forces and Security Corps leaderships, and the leadersnip of the country's higher and supreme courts.

    President Papoulias was greeted with full military honours at Syntagma Square after the doxology, where he laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier outside the parliament building.

    Author : Athens News Agency

    Illegal Antiquities Cache Prompts Greek Inquiry
    April 18, 2006

    The Greek authorities said on Tuesday that they were investigating a suspected conspiracy to smuggle antiquities hidden on a remote island to major museums and other buyers abroad.

    The inquiry, described by the Greek culture minister, George Voulgarakis, as one of the most complex cases in recent history, springs from a raid last week in an Athens suburb and another on Skhoinousa, a tiny Greek island, where the police discovered a vast cache of ancient artifacts, some more than 3,000 years old.

    Mr. Voulgarakis said at a news conference that the antiquities seized at Skhoinousa, an island in the Cyclades, were stored in containers. Items cataloged so far by archaeologists range widely in age and geographic origin, he said, from marble busts of Roman gods to Corinthian columns, from Christian icons to an Egyptian amphora, with dates running from the early Hellenistic era to the post-Byzantine period.

    Evidence retrieved in the raid indicated that many of the items had been bought at Christie's or Sotheby's between 2001 and 2005, although none had been declared to the Greek authorities before entering the country, as required by law, he said.

    Specifically, the authorities are trying to determine whether the cache has any links to the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, Mr. Voulgarakis said.

    Nearly three weeks ago the police raided a villa owned by the Getty's former antiquities curator, Marion True, on Paros, an island near Skhoinousa, and removed more than a dozen antiquities that had not been registered with the authorities. And for months, Greek officials have been pressing the Getty to return four artifacts in its collection that they contend were illegally removed from the country.

    Still, Mr. Voulgarakis cautioned that we should not rush to any conclusions on any link between the Getty itself and the newly uncovered trove. No arrests have been made in connection with the raids, the minister added.

    More on New York Times

    Author : Anthi Karassava & Carol Vogel and Randy Kennedy

    Mare Forum in Athens
    August 17 2006

    The Mare Forum will convene for its next marathon talking session in Athens, on Monday-Tuesday September 25 and 26, preceded by a warming up evening reception on Sunday.

    The Mare Forum calls itself a unique channel for communication between regulators, implementers and enforcers, at the highest level of both government and industry, and with a global outlook.

    Its first session was held in Amsterdam some 10 years ago, and this Athens gathering will be asked to focus on the Green Paper on Maritime Policy, published by the European Commission two months ago and which sets out the building blocks of an integrated strategy on maritime affairs.

    Shipping is just one of the envisaged key elements, but, as the announcement brochure states, of no less importance than any of the other elements, which concern the wider uses of the seas and oceans, energy issues, coastal management and development, among others.

    There will be sessions dedicated to shipping market issues including supply and demand forecasts, finance and investment, and human factor issues, such as maritime recruitment and labor standards, sea skills, and criminalization.

    The numerous confirmed speakers include legislators, policy-makers and industry figures from around the world.

    Lloyd’s List maritime editor and commentator Michael Grey, will again chair the session with the support of Mare Forum Managing Director, Jannis Kostoulas.

    For further information and registration contact: info@mareforum.com or ruth@mareforum.com
    Telephone +31 (0)10 281 0655.

    The conference hotel is the Astir Palace, 40 Apollonos Street, 16671 Vouliagmeni, Athens, Greece.

    More on Mare Forum

    Author : Greece Athens

    Acropolis International Open Chess Tournament
    August 20, 2006

    The International Tournament Acropolis 2006, organized by the Greek Chess Federation, is taking place between the 13 and 21 of August 2006 in Athens, Greece.

    Official site: Hellenic Chess Federation

    Author : Greece Athens

    A soldier wipes the face of an evzone...
    August 20, 2006

    A soldier wipes the face of an evzone, who is not allowed to move as long as he remains on guard, outside Parliament in central Athens, yesterday. The temperature rose to around 40C (104F) yesterday in a heat wave that is expected to continue over the next few days. The City of Athens and the Athens-Piraeus Prefecture have opened doors to many of their air-conditioned facilities to locals looking for a place to cool off. More information is available on 1539. The National Meteorological Service (EMY) said there will be little relief from the heat before Wednesday.

    Author : Orestis Panagiiotou / EPA

    Nia Vardalos Gets Permission to Film at Athens's Acropolis
    September 21, 2006

    Greece has granted American actress and writer Nia Vardalos the rare privilege of shooting parts of her new Tom Hanks-produced film in the classical ruins of Athens's Acropolis, according to Reuters.

    Greek authorities rarely approve such requests for fear of heavy equipment and film props damaging the ruins. They also fear use of archaeological sites for commercial ventures could compromise their global appeal.

    The country's Central Archaeological Council (KAS) has, however, given the green light for the Hollywood production My Life in Ruins to use the ancient temple of Parthenon on the Acropolis as a location.

    Nia Vardalos, who starred in the 2002 sleeper hit My Big Fat Greek Wedding, will be playing a tour guide traveling across Greece with a group of tourists. Shooting is expected to start in the coming months.

    While this is not the first time the Acropolis is used in a major Hollywood production, KAS had turned down dozens of requests since allowing Francis Ford Coppola to shoot Life Without Zoe in 1989 on the sacred rock.

    Author : Reuters

    Acropolis museum to boost bid for Parthenon sculptures
    October 10, 2006

    ATHENS, Greece Greece's marathon campaign to reclaim the 2,500-year-old Parthenon sculptures from Britain will be boosted by a long-delayed Athens museum set to open next year, the premier said Monday.

    Greece hopes the landmark structure, purpose-built to showcase finds from the ancient Acropolis, will eventually host the collection — even as a permanent loan — despite repeated refusals from the British government and British Museum officials.

    Once the museum is completed, Greece will have a very strong argument for the return of the Parthenon Sculptures, Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis said. We are taking a very important step to finally realize a dream that unites all Greeks.

    The ancient marble masterpieces originally decorated the upper parts of the Parthenon, built between 447 and 432 B.C. They were removed in the early 19th century — when Greece still belonged to the Turkish Ottoman empire — by British diplomat Lord Elgin.

    Athens argues the sprawling ?129 million ($162 million) building will allow the sculptures to be reunited for the first time in 200 years, in a direct line of sight with their ancient home.

    During a visit to the building site at the foot of the Acropolis hill, Karamanlis said the museum will be ready in the first half of 2007. Officials say it will then open to visitors by the end of next year.

    It will be the most modern archaeological museum in the world, Karamanlis said.

    More on International Herald Tribune Europe

    Author : Greece Athens

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