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Athens News Agency: News in English, 06-05-15

Athens News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] The Olive Tree Routes awarded CoE distinction
  • [02] Poll on PASOK's opposition tactics

  • [01] The Olive Tree Routes awarded CoE distinction

    "The Olive Tree Routes? were formally awarded the title of ?Major European Cultural Route? during a ceremony at the European Cultural Centre in Delphi on the weekend. These routes share the olive tree as common element of culture and dialogue among people in the Euro-Mediterranean area. The title of ?Major European Cultural Route? was presented by Gabriella Battaini-Dragoni, Council of Europe Director of Education, Culture and Heritage, in the presence of culture minister George Voulgarakis.

    The ceremony was held in the framework of a Forum on the Cultural Routes of the Council of Europe as geopolitical instruments for international dialogue, sustainable development, cultural tourism and European integration.

    Culture ministry secretary general Christos Zachopoulos highlighted the importance of this distinction, particularly given that 2006 has been declared the "Year of Olive Oil" by the Greek government, while development ministry secretary general Manousos Voloudakis noted the importance and uniqueness of the olive tree, the economic aspect of its products, and their significance in nature and throughout Greece's centuries-old civilisation and culture.

    The Council of Europe's relevant committee recently awarded the title of "Major Cultural Route of the Council of Europe" to The Routes of the Olive Tree, organised by the homonymous Cultural Foundation ( and the Messinia Chamber of Commerce. This honorary distinction was awarded following nomination by the Greek culture ministry's Directorate of International Relations and Organisations, and constitutes a further step in the international recognition of the route, which was elected the ?2nd World Cultural Itinerary? by UNESCO in 2003.

    The Routes of the Olive Tree are itineraries of sustainable development and intercultural dialogue, realized around a common theme. They consist in the rediscovery and recognition of this diverse natural heritage, linked to the technical, economic, social and cultural development of the civilisations inhabiting the Mediterranean basin since ancient times up until today. The initiative rests on the importance of the presence of the Olive Tree in the Mediterranean as an element, which unifies the people who live in its environment. These itineraries work towards a common valorising of the history of this tree, for the benefit of oil-producing regions, and towards expanding the universal symbol of prosperity, spirituality, and peace that it represents.

    These itineraries wish to create "interactive synergies" between conservation, tourism and development by: These itineraries wish to create ?interactive synergies? between conservation, tourism and development by: · favouring dialogue between the regions concerned, between developed areas and those in difficulty, between urban and rural spaces · encouraging thematic tourism and sustainable development through setting up exemplary initiatives in oil-producing regions · carrying out an inventory of the material and immaterial heritage of the olive tree, and increasing its value · contributing to public awareness and educating young people · leading specialised, multidisciplinary research on the widened theme of the olive tree.

    The Routes of the Olive Tree are part of a common initiative by the Cultural Foundation The Routes of the Olive Tree and the Chamber of Commerce in Messinia, with the cooperation of an important network of international organisations: Greek and Mediterranean Chambers of Industry and Commerce, European universities and research centres, Olive Tree Museums and Non-Governmental Organisations from olive-growing countries. It has been placed under the aegis of the International Oil-producing Council, of Hellenic Ministries of Culture, Development, Tourism and Foreign Affairs, of the Peloponnesian Region, of the Athens Town Council, of the International Federation of Motorcycling, etc.

    The first cultural itinerary of The Routes of the Olive Tree was inaugurated in 1999 in the ancient town of Pylos, where tablets of linear B writing were discovered with the ideogram of the Olive tree (which became the logo of the Foundation): 16 000 kilometres and 40 days of motorbike circuits, realized from Greece to France, passing through Cyprus, Israel, Egypt and Italy. These routes, which take place once a year, are made up of a course of relays across all of the olive-growing Mediterranean countries with the participation of ?Friends of the Olive Tree? and the motorcycle clubs of the IFM. The journey is divided into several stages and continues towards several destinations, from a predetermined town to another town of arrival, where all the participants meet. The meeting of the ?Olive Tree Messengers? is celebrated through several events, organised in cooperation with local organisations.

    Beyond the Mediterranean countries, The Routes of the Olive Tree have, since 2004, participated in the promotion of the olive tree in non-olive-growing countries, such as Austria, Germany, France, Switzerland etc. These particular routes are called Eleodromia.

    Photograph and painting exhibitions, commercial and cultural meetings, olive oil competitions, information days etc. have been achieved in Greece and various countries, as well as the publication of editions about the history and the importance of the Olive tree and the nutritional value of its products, and the publication of calendars.

    For example, from 2001 to 2003, a series of cultural and commercial meetings and exhibitions, entitled ?Life Cycles under the Light of the Olive Tree? were organised in Marseille, Bal Amand, Topruk, Montreal, Paris, Constantine, Damask, Moura, Brussels et Izmir, in the framework of the ?European heritage Days?. The first ?Festival of the Routes of the Olive Tree? took place from the 14th to 19th December 2004 in the Exhibition Hall of the ?Syntagma? metro in Athens, with 5 days of exhibitions, educational workshops, round tables, musical animations and culinary tasting sessions dedicated to the history and the civilisation of the Olive Tree.

    The euro-mediterranean importance of the theme

    Through its geographic and historic extent, the olive tree has not only marked the landscape, but also the daily life of Mediterranean civilisations; it is associated with their rites and religious traditions, and it has influenced their habits and techniques.

    A mythical and sacred tree for the three monotheistic religions, a material and spiritual reference for the whole of the Mediterranean, a universal symbol of peace and reconciliation, the Olive tree represents a wide variety of living natural and cultural landscapes. Together with wine and wheat, the Olive Tree has enabled communities in the Mediterranean, thanks to maritime or terrestrial trade routes, to contribute to the formation of harbour towns such as Marseilles, Genoa, Barcelona, Piraeus. The ports and towns of the Mediterranean, both East and West, North and South, the bazaars and markets, the olive groves and the both ancient and modern oil factories, all constitute an exceptional common heritage, important witnesses to the history and development of technology, soap-production factories etc.

    Today, it is in the Mediterranean that 98% of the world production of olive oil takes place. The techniques and traditions continue to cross over around the culture of the Olive Tree. Globally, the production of olive oil plays a deciding role for economies and employment, as well as for the biodiversity of Mediterranean regions. The areas with olive tree plantations cover almost 4.5 million hectares, whilst the sector includes 2,240,000 producers.

    The Olive Tree Routes and the 2008 Olympic Games

    In the years to come, the Council of Europe's Olive Tree Routes Foundation wishes to pursue and develop its issues and activities along the maritime routes of the Mediterranean and beyond the Euro-Mediterranean olive-growing region. In 2006, it will inaugurate the first Maritime Route of the Olive Tree, towards Mediterranean ports by following the traces of the distribution of the olive tree and of merchant vessels. Another significant event is forecast for the 2008 Olympic Games, in Beijing. On this occasion, the Routes of the Olive Tree and Eleodromia will depart from the Ancient town of Pylos and Ancient Olympia in the direction of Asia, where they will meet the Silk Routes to transport the Olympic Flame.

    More specifically, according to Messinia chamber of Commerce president George Karambatos, 5,000 motorcyclists from all over the world will depart from Pylos for Beijing, and from there they will return via Moscow, where, at a special ceremony, "1,000 olive trees will decorate the Red Square, with 1,000 violins playing in the background and 1,000 doves will be set free to convey a message of peace to all the world".

    The actions envisaged aim to reinforce intercultural dialogue, as well as to engage or develop international cooperation.

    Other initiatives promoting the civilisation of the olive tree are also being developed:

  • Equipping a vehicle into a mobile activity centre, The Oleobus-museum, composed of museum spaces, a library and facilities for tasting olive-based products

  • The creation of an electronic resource centre: Euro-Mediterranean corpus that regroups the research and work carried out on the theme of the olive tree.


    The Cultural Routes programme was launched by the Council of Europe in 1987. The initial concept was to demonstrate in a visible way, by means of a journey through space and time, how the heritage of the different countries of Europe represented a shared cultural heritage.

    The Cultural Routes also provide a concrete demonstration of the fundamental principles of the Council of Europe: human rights, cultural democracy, European cultural diversity and identity, dialogue, mutual exchange and enrichment across boundaries and centuries.

    he first example, the Santiago de Compostela Pilgrim Routes, served initially as a source of inspiration, then became the reference point for the development of future activities.

    The main aims are:

  • to raise awareness of a European cultural identity and European citizenship, based on a set of shared values given tangible form by means of cultural routes retracing the history of the influences, exchanges and developments which have shaped European cultures;

  • to promote intercultural and interreligious dialogue through a better understanding of European history;

  • to safeguard and enhance the cultural and natural heritage as a means of improving the quality of life and as a source of social, economic and cultural development;

  • to give pride of place to cultural tourism, with a view to sustainable development.

    Major Cultural Routes of the Council of Europe to date to date are:

    The Santiago De Compostela Pilgrim Routes ; Pilgrim Routes

    The Mozart Route; Historical and Legendary Figures of Europe

    The Legacy of Al-Andalus

    The Route of the Castilian Language and its Expansion in the Mediterranean: The Sephardic Routes

    The Hansa

    Parks and Gardens, landscape

    The Viking Routes; Vikings and Normans

    The Via Francigena; Pilgrim Routes

    Saint Martin de Tours, a great European figure, a Symbol of sharing

    The Jewish Heritage Routes

    The Clunisian Sites in Europe

    The Olive Routes

    The Via Regia

    Cultural Routes of the Council of Europe

    Architecture without Frontiers: Rural Habitat

    The Schickhardt Route; Historical and Legendary Figures of Europe

    The Wenzel and Vauban Routes; Military Architecture in Europe

    The Iron Route in The Pyrenees; Industrial Heritage in Europe

    ANA-MPA Copyright © 2004-2005 All rights reserved.

    [02] Poll on PASOK's opposition tactics

    A large proportion of 61.5 percent of respondents were dissatisfied with the manner in which main opposition PASOK was exercising opposition, according to a nationwide opinion poll conducted by Kappa Research, the results of which were published in the Sunday weekly newspaper Proto Thema.

    According to the results of the poll, conducted on May 10-11 by phone nationwide in a sampling of 1,359 households, 48.5 percent of the respondents said they were "not satisfied" and 13.0 percent replied they were "rather not satisfied", while 19.9 percent replied that they were "satisfied" and 16.8 percent said they were "rather satisfied". Another 1.9 percent were "not sure" or declined to reply.

    Respondents were more or less in agreement, however, on PASOK leader George Papandreou's decision to back Gul Karahasan, a woman member of the Moslem community and alternate secretary of PASOK's municipal organisation in Miki in the Xanthi prefecture, as the PASOK-backed candidate for the Drama-Xanthi-Kavala supraprefecture.

    More specifically, 46.1 percent of the recents "agree", with the decision and 8.3 percent "rather agree", while 38.9 percent "disagree" and 5.3 percent "rather disagree", whereas 1.4 percent were not sure or declined to reply.

    The percentages varied somewhat among the 611 households polled in the Drama, Xanthi, Kavala region, where 44.2 percent "agree", 8.2 percent "rather agree", 43.9 percent "disagree" and 5.3 percent "rather disagree", while 0.7 percent were not sure or declined to reply.

    However, with respect to voters' intent in the households polled in the Drama-Kavala-Xanthi supra-prefecture, the ruling New Democracy (ND) party-backed candidate led with 41.9 percent over Karahasan, who was backed by 27.7 percent of the respondents, while 14.7 percent backed "other candidates" and 15.7 percent were not sure or declined to reply.

    ANA-MPA Copyright © 2004-2005 All rights reserved.

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