Daily Archives: July 10, 2014

Oil giants interested in Greek reserves


Greek Energy Minister Yiannis Maniatis.

Government promises tax cuts to attract them.

Greece is planning to cut tax rates for oil and gas companies as it wants to attract them to help exploit its untapped offshore hydrocarbon resources, Energy Minister Yiannis Maniatis said earlier this week.

Under the plan, oil and gas explorers will pay 25 per cent tax, down from 40 per cent currently, and 5 per cent of the tax will go to local communities.

“We have done this in order to incentivise our investors to invest in the future of Greece,” said the country’s energy minister at a media conference in London.

He did not say when the new tax rates would come into effect.

Greece, which spent 15.6 billion euros to import fuel last year, or about 8.6 per cent of its gross domestic product, has launched an ambitious program to discover big hydrocarbon reserves.

It has been inspired by large gas finds offshore from nearby Israel and Cyprus.

Maniatis also announced the tender of Greece’s first large-scale oil and gas exploration licenses after several fruitless attempts over the past decades to make big oil discoveries.

A group of Greek government oil and gas experts met representatives from BP, Shell, Total and ExxonMobil and other oil companies in London this week.

Once the tender is officially published in the near future, oil and gas producers will be able to bid for licences covering 20 blocks located south of Crete and in the Ionian Sea.

Source: Reuters

Greece:Migrant fruit pickers strike, alleging racist treatment

greek migrant

Workers claim they were victims of racism after they were raided by police.

A series of police raids on the shacks of Pakistani fruit-pickers in the area of Skala in Laconia, in the Peloponnese, has prompted a strike by the laborers, who claim to have suffered racist treatment.

As the strike entered its fifth day on Wednesday, one worker told Kathimerini that they are not only treated badly at their workplace but are chased from local squares. Ioannis Grypiotis, the mayor of Evrotas, where the orange orchards are located, has been accused of racism by some of the workers. He rejected the claims, claiming that the only upheaval has been due to rows between the workers. He added that local residents felt threatened due to the large number of migrants in the area.

Source: ekathimerini

Chinese president due on Rhodes in symbolic visit


Chinese President Xi Jinping. Photo: EPA/CHUNG SUNG-JUN / POOL

Strengthening bilateral ties on the agenda.

In the wake of a successful visit to Greece last month by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, the country’s President Xi Jinping is due to arrive on the southern Aegean island of Rhodes on Sunday in what is regarded as a highly symbolic trip.

Greek President Karolos Papoulias is scheduled to welcome Xi to the island on Sunday afternoon (Greece time) before hosting a dinner for the Chinese leader and accompanying him on a tour of the main port’s old town. Xi is to leave Rhodes on Sunday evening and will fly to Brazil before returning to Beijing, sources said.

During their time on Rhodes, the two leaders are expected to reiterate their intention to tighten bilateral ties. In a letter sent to Papoulias in early June, Xi described Greece as a “strategic partner.”

Xi’s trip to Rhodes is widely seen as a message to Chinese citizens to visit Greece, which is expecting record tourist arrivals this year.

Tourism is one of several sectors, including shipping, tourism, trade and infrastructure, in which Greek and Chinese officials pledged to intensify bilateral cooperation during Li’s visit last month. The Chinese premier conveyed Beijing’s interest in investing in Greece’s railway network in order to accelerate the transport of goods to Europe, noting that the use of Piraeus – where Chinese firm Cosco already has a strong presence – has reduced the time it takes to transport Chinese goods to the European Union.

Source: ekathimerini

Lex Marinos’ ‘irresponsible memoir’


Lex Marinos’ memoir Blood and Circuses.

From ‘wog’ to majestic patriarch Manolis in The Slap, the memoir of Australia’s much-loved Lex Marinos is out now.

From Kingswood Country to The Slap, and beyond – the warm, funny and surprising life of one of Australia’s much-loved actors and broadcasters, Lex Marinos, is now revealed in his memoir Blood and Circuses.

In his early years on TV he was the ‘wog’, then ultimately became the majestic patriarch, Manolis, in The Slap.

His work has taken him all over Australia, from remote Indigenous communities to directing one of the segments at the opening ceremony of the Sydney Olympics.

He was there when Triple J was born, he ran the rugby league touchlines for ABC Sport, was a panellist on Andrew Denton’s Live & Sweaty, and appeared in dozens of films and countless stage productions.

He lived through the stimulating times of the rock’n’roll in the ’50s, the hippies in the ’60s, the huge renaissance in Australian theatre and film and radio in the ’70s.

His first book, Blood and Circuses, is the wry and charming story of a young Greek Australian boy, whose family ran a cafe in Wagga Wagga in the 1950s and who dreamt of making his life in the theatre. It is a vivid account of a life lived to the full, beautifully written by a much-loved Australian.

source: Neos Kosmos

ABC and SBS protest amalgamation


Finance minister Mathias Cormann. Photo: AAP/Alan Porritt.

Broadcasters pour cold water on efficiency review.

They may be bedfellows at the heart of Australian public service broadcasting, but the ABC and SBS say getting up close and personal by co-locating isn’t for them.

Both national broadcasters have expressed scepticism of one the key recommendations of the efficiency review recently delivered to the Abbott government – the co-location of ABC and SBS administrative facilities in Sydney and Melbourne.

Senior sources at both networks are reported to have said the idea is unworkable and could not be achieved without additional costs, running into tens of millions of dollars.

As both broadcasters work through their official responses to government over the review’s recommendations, the co-location suggestion has apparently caused the greatest anxiety to SBS, with fears it could be swamped by the ABC, culturally and financially, if they were to share offices.

The ABC and SBS receive around $1.4 billion in funding a year from the government and the review, led by former Seven West Media chief financial officer Peter Lewis, has looked at ways both organisations can work more efficiently and reduce costs.

While the review is confidential, many of its recommendations have become public knowledge in the last month. Its proposals generally suggest that the ABC should adopt a more commercial approach, and for instance, charge users to access special content on its iView online catch-up service.

The review has also suggested the ABC should abandon digital radio and focus on streaming radio programs online, and raise $70 million by selling off its production studios and outsourcing work to the private sector.

The ABC is about to begin developing a $176 million facility in Melbourne’s Southbank, which it has designated as its future television production centre in Victoria. Contradicting this plan, the review has noted that “there may be scope for the ABC to rethink the inclusion of two large TV studios in the Melbourne accommodation project”.

The review also proposes that SBS should be allowed to air more advertisements to increase its revenue. Free-to-air commercial broadcasters, who compete fiercely for advertising revenue, are likely to oppose the idea, along with SBS viewers.

The biggest efficiency saving for the government and the broadcasters is likely to relate to transmission contracts with Broadcast Australia, which costs both broadcasters close to $300m a year.

Last week Finance Minister Mathias Cormann played down the prospect of the review’s recommendations being adopted, saying it was a “report to government, not a report from the government'”.

source: Neos Kosmos

‘Vampire-gigolo’:Goussis acquitted of murder


Evangelos Goussis

Suspect in infamous ‘vampire-gigolo’ case found not guilty to all charges.

Uzbek born Greek-Australian Evangelos Goussis has been found not guilty for the murder of vampire gigolo Shane Chartres-Abbott.

Goussis, 46, and his co-accused Mark Perry, 46, and Warren Shea, 42, were cleared by the jury after four days of deliberations.

Prosecutors were pushing for a finding of murder, or the alternative charge of manslaughter.

Shane Chartres-Abbott, a self-proclaimed vampire gigolo, was shot dead outside his Reservoir home, in Melbourne’s north, in 2003.

The prosecution relied on a statement by the triggerman (who cannot be named for legal purposes) who shot dead Chartres-Abbott, and then turned on the three men.

It claimed that the killing was committed as revenge for the rape and torture of Perry’s former girlfriend, who was a Thai stripper that had paid Chartres-Abbott for sex.

It was alleged that Goussis accompanied the triggerman on the night of the killing.

All three men pleaded not guilty to and claimed to have been set up by the self-confessed triggerman.

Chartres-Abbott’s home address was allegedly disclosed to the hit man by corrupt police who were never charged.

Source: Herald Sun

Onassis Foundation Summer Schools


Students participating in the Onassis Foundation Summer Schools. Photo: Supplied.

The Onassis Public Benefit Foundation and the S. Onassis Foundation Cultural Centre non-profit organisation welcome to Athens 250 students from Greece and other countries of the European Union, the USA, Australia and Asia, for a three-year program to participate in summer schools.

The Summer Schools project is an independent and integral project within the broader framework of the European project ‘The Academy of Plato: Development of Knowledge and Innovative Ideas’, which is being implemented jointly by the Athens National and Kapodistrian University (EKPA), the Onassis Foundation Cultural Centre non-profit organisation and the Foundation of the Hellenic World.

The program constitutes a multidisciplinary educational intervention with the most contemporary and appropriate methodologies of lifelong learning, it addresses different age groups and is inspired, as its title suggests, from Plato’s Academy. Plato’s Academy was well-known as a leading spiritual centre in ancient Greece. It determined the philosophical and scientific thought, and contributed to the shaping of modern civilisation. Through an educational procedure, the program aims to offer guest students the chance to really familiarise themselves with Greek historic figures, events and sites that have influenced global history, science and culture.

The Onassis Foundation summer schools are essentially a journey into knowledge, as the high school guest students are introduced, during their stay, to modern Athens and Greece, to Greek history, philosophy and culture from antiquity to date through contemporary and attractive teaching methods.
Summer schools last a month and are divided into two two-week cycles. In this time, a theoretical interdisciplinary approach is applied to the history of Greece and its people by means of a diachronic examination of the local history, thought, speech, science and art. At the same time, guest students from abroad are introduced to contemporary Greece, meeting the city and its people, their everyday routine and life. In an attempt firstly to escape the repetition of the cognitive process that children, in Greek schools mostly, experience during their school years, and also for the program to be comprehensible to children visiting from abroad, given that this was considered new knowledge for those children, theoretical knowledge needed to be linked to living experience, and speech, image and live stimulus to be merged into one whole. The course cycle is accompanied by lectures, visits, walks, workshops and activities through which children can absorb the knowledge they have acquired through experience, can apply it and add to it.

Based on this reasoning, the courses are divided into separate thematic sessions on Greek history, literature, art, the course of philosophical thought, the technological and scientific achievements of Greeks in their country and abroad, the material and everyday life of modern Greeks. Greek children and children from abroad meet, collaborate in joint events, and have fun together, exchanging experiences, concerns, thoughts and setting the foundations for future relationships. Through this comprehensive study program, summer schools emerge as efficient tools for social and cultural development.

Since the inception of the idea, the working group of the Onassis Foundation accepted that summer schools are a significant venture and focused on two axes that would ensure the program’s success. Those were the multimember educational procedure and the appropriate coordination of all teams so that both guest students and escort teachers return to their countries safe, satisfied and full of new images and experiences. The feat of organising this year’s summer schools proved demanding and challenging right from the start.

After the study program had been finalised, the first challenge was to set forth the selection criteria for schools in Greece and abroad to ascertain which would be eligible to participate in the Summer Schools program – after all, the applications were many and the available positions limited. As far as Greek schools were concerned, the first selection criterion was for them to be located outside Athens, in the countryside, then for them to have participated in certain actions for collaboration with other Greek or foreign schools, or their children and teachers to have displayed significant presence in extracurricular activities. For foreign schools, the first criterion was geographic dispersion. Then, schools with a classical study curriculum which teach Ancient Greek were favoured, and finally, schools which participate in actions trying to probe into the Greek civilisation and the dissemination of the Greek language.

In the first two journeys into knowledge which took place in two cycles in the summer of 2012, the participants from Greece were students and escort teachers from the 5th High School of Ioannina and the 2nd High School of Kilkis, as well as students and teachers from the Lycée Galilée in Combs-la-Ville, France and the Klasična Gimnazija in Zagreb, Croatia. The pilot program was crowned with success.

The Onassis Foundation continued this project in the summer of 2013 by hosting 70 students from the High School of Rodolivos, Serres (Greece), the Stedelijk Gymnasium Leiden from Leiden (Netherlands), the National High School for Ancient Languages and Cultures ‘St Constantine Syril, the Philosopher’ from Sofia (Bulgaria), the Institut du Sacré-Coeur from Mons (Belgium) and the Frederick Douglass Academy from New York (USA).
This year’s summer school started last week with the participation of students from Adelaide, Granada Spain, Beijing, New York and the Greek region of Evros. So far more than 190 high school students have taken part in the program.

The project is financed by the European Union (European Social Fund) and national resources through the operational program ‘Education and Lifelong Learning’.

For more information on the Summer Schools, you can visit the project’s website at www.plato-academy.gr

source: Neos Kosmos

Turkish fighter jets violate Greek air space


Greek fighter jets fly over their airspace. Photo: AP.

The Turkish jets were chased off by Greek aircraft.

Turkish fighter jets violated Greek air space over the Aegean this week.

According to Greek defence sources, a formation of Turkish F-4 jets entered the Athens Flight Information Region at 3,000 feet over the Fourni collection of islets between Samos and Chios.

The Turkish jets were chased off by Greek aircraft.

Source: ekathimerini

Repairs on quake-hit Kephalonia ‘progressing well’


State engineers have inspected more than 3,000 buildings on the island, deeming around 1,500 to be habitable and another 1,500 requiring repair.

State-backed efforts to repair damage wreaked on the Ionian island of Kephalonia by two earthquakes earlier this year are progressing at a satisfactory pace, Transport and Infrastructure Minister Michalis Chrysochoidis told a parliamentary committee this week.

State engineers have inspected more than 3,000 buildings on the island, deeming around 1,500 to be habitable and another 1,500 requiring repair, with 200 slated for demolition, the minister said.

Subsidies worth 400,000 euros have been disbursed to around 600 families whose homes suffered damage while another 370 appeals are pending, he added.

Meanwhile, with the tourist season at its peak, applications by local hoteliers for state aid to carry out repairs are being processed as quickly as possible, the minister indicated. Of the 17 appeals, nine have been approved while the rest are pending, he said, noting that the total cost of repairs to damaged hotels is estimated at 1.1 million euros.

Progress is being made with repairing school buildings too, as well as damaged roads and other infrastructure, particularly the port of Lixouri, which was hit hard by the quakes.

Source: ekathimerini

Government resists opposition pressure for referendum on PPC selloff


The 15 independents indicated that they would support SYRIZA’s call for a debate on the Government plans to part-privatize the Public Power Corporation (PPC).

Fifteen independent MPs backed a proposal by leftist SYRIZA for Parliament to launch a debate on a referendum on the government’s plans to part-privatize the Public Power Corporation (PPC) as government spokesperson Sofia Voultepsi insisted that separate proposals by opposition parties should not count as one.

The 15 independents indicated that they would support SYRIZA’s call for a debate on whether a plebiscite should be held on plans for spinning off some 30 percent of PPC to a private investor. A vote on the planned spin-off is due to take place in Parliament this week.

The expression of support from the independents prompted SYRIZA, which also has the support of Independent Greeks and the majority of Democratic Left (DIMAR), to push its demand for a referendum. So far SYRIZA has the backing of around 108 MPs, just short of the minimum of 120 it needs for a discussion on a referendum to begin. But, according to sources, SYRIZA is confident it can reach the minimum by counting in the MPs of the Communist Party (KKE), which has said it wants a referendum on the liberalization of the electricity sector in general. Golden Dawn has also said it will lodge its own proposal for a referendum on PPC but SYRIZA does not want to be associated with the neofascist party.

Voultepsi insisted that separate proposals should not be counted together. “It is certain that they cannot be added up,” she said. “So there is no real point to any further discussion.”

Her comments came a few hours after Parliament Speaker Vangelis Meimarakis said it was possible that the House’s plenary session, which is in recess for summer, could be convened for a debate on a referendum on the PPC sell-off. Meimarakis reiterated his opinion, however, saying “the government has nothing to fear” and suggesting that leaving the matter unresolved could aggravate the situation. He suggested waiting for the opinion of Parliament’s Scientific Council and the proposals from the different parties, stressing however that the final decision on whether Parliament’s plenary should reconvene lay with the government.

Source: ekathimerini