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Athens News Agency: News in English, 06-11-10

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Erechtheum fragment returned to Greece
  • [02] Ministers agree over 'hazard' pay for police

  • [01] Erechtheum fragment returned to Greece

    A fragment of the Erechtheum, or Erechtheion, a small temple on the north side of the Athens Acropolis, has been returned to Greece after more than 100 years and is now on display in the old Acropolis Museum.

    The fragment, a piece of the Ionic temple's elaborately carved architrave (the beam of masonry resting on the columns of Greek temples), was formally handed over to Culture Minister George Voulgarakis on Friday morning by retired gymnastics teacher Birgit Wiger Angner from Sweden, during a ceremony held on the Athens Acropolis.

    Angnar had inherited the fragment in 1972 from her father, who was given it as a gift by his brother, naval officer Henning Lund, following a trip to Athens in 1895.

    Accepting the fragment, Voulgarakis stressed the great symbolic significance of its return and underlined that retrieving even the least fragment of the Parthenon and the other buildings on the Athens Acropolis was valuable for Greece.

    "Mrs Wiger Angner's decision to make this extremely important gesture is linked to the worldwide effort being made for the return of cultural artifacts to their countries of origin. It is chiefly, however, linked with the promotion of the request for the return and reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures (Elgin Marbles)," the minister pointed out.

    Voulgarakis said the small piece of marble comes from one of the 28 segments of the Erechtheum's architrave. Three of these are now held at the British Museum, one is at the Munich sculpture gallery, ten complete segments are on the monument itself and another three have been reconstructed from fragments.

    "Your gesture offers international public opinion one more stimulus to sensitise it to the fate of a unique monument of international cultural heritage, the Parthenon and the surrounding Athens Acropolis," he told Wiger Anger as he presented her with an honorary plaque on behalf of the Greek State, adding that it was also a message to museums abroad to respond to their moral obligation for the cultural cohesion of united Europe.

    Visibly moved, Wiger Angner recounted how she was led to her decision after hearing about the effort for the return of the Parthenon Marbles through a seminar held in Sweden in May 2003 by the Stockholm Mediterranean Museum to mark the foundation of a Swedish committee for the return of the Parthenon Marbles to Greece. After contacting the committee and the museum, she eventually handed over the fragment in her possession to the Stockholm Museum in 2005, which made arrangements for its official return to Greece.

    Urging museums that still have sculptured sections of the Parthenon to follow her example, Wiger Angner expressing hope that the British Museum, which is currently in possession of the most significant surviving sections of the Parthenon's sculptured frieze, would do so in the future.

    [02] Ministers agree over 'hazard' pay for police

    The government on Friday announced that that it will fix a special "hazard pay" bonus for eligible law enforcement personnel, firefighters and military officers at 8 percent of the salary of a second lieutenant in the army, beginning in 2008.

    The announcement came after a closely watched meeting between Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis and Public Order Minister Vyron Polydoras, given that the latter publicly and vociferously championed the increased remuneration package over the past week.

    The compromise also came amid speculation over Polydoras' intentions if there was no agreement on the bonus.

    "With today's decision the government's promise to reverse an injustice against civil servants is implemented ... Other demands were also considered in a positive spirit, some of which were accepted, others, due to fiscal restrictions, were not," Alogoskoufis said told reporters.

    On his part, Polydoras said a demand dating back 15 years has been met by the government, while thanking the finance minister for the cooperation between the two ministries -- a statement seeking to defuse recently heightened press speculation claiming acrimonious exchanges between the two ministries and even guesswork that the public order minister would tender his resignation.

    "I want to state that throughout these past few days and even months, as I considered the meaning of this resolute promotion of the ministry's requests, I was in no way isolated from the (government's) economic policy and from a social conscience ... I referred to outstanding issues that, if judged within a cost-benefit analysis, had to be met: minimum cost, maximum social and administrative benefit," he said.

    Until 2008, the bonus will be paid out in four installments, which Alogoskoufis said now averages to about 28 euros a month.

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