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Athens News Agency: News in English, 07-09-24
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From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 New Acropolis Museum to open in stages in 2008The transfer of artifacts from the old Acropolis Museum -- which stands atop the historic hill itself -- to the new ultra-modern and spacious museum will begin on Oct.14, Greek Culture Minister Mihalis Liapis announced on Monday during a tour of the under-construction new venue, which is in the final stages of completion.
The transfer is expected to take three months, as the new museum will be opened to visitors in stages -- beginning in early 2008 -- and starting with the third floor. It will be fully open to the public after roughly one year, the minister added.
"A great vision is being carried out; an ultra-modern museum that has a dialectical relationship with the Acropolis," Liapis said as he toured the new building with Acropolis curator Alexandros Mantis and the director of the organisation for the construction of the new Acropolis Museum, archaeologist Dimitris Pantermalis.
The new state-of-the-art museum directly faces the Acropolis and the Parthenon Temple atop the hill from the south.
In the first phase of the new museum's operation, possibly as soon as January, the public will be able to visit the top floor where the east and north metopes of the Parthenon will be on display after their transfer from the old museum.
In anticipation of the much-hoped for return of the Parthenon Marbles from the British Museum, meanwhile, copies of the friezes, currently in London, will be displayed on the same floor but will be covered with a transparent veil to indicate their continued absence.
The minister also underlined that Greece will continue to press for the return of the Parthenon Marbles to Athens.
"We are all obliged to intensify our efforts for the return of the Parthenon Marbles from the British Museum because only then will we have fulfilled our historic duty," Liapis stressed.
The new building is dominated by the use of hi-tech glass that allows visitors to maintain visual contact with the structures on the Acropolis, while viewing the artifacts on display.
On the ground floor, visitors will have direct visual contact with subterranean archaeological remains of an ancient Athenian neighbourhood that were uncovered at a depth of seven metres, when the foundations for the new museum were being dug. This links the daily lives ancient Athens' residents with the temples directly opposite the museum.
To the right and left on this floor, artifacts found on the slopes leading up to the Acropolis will be on display, such as those from the theatre of Dionysus, the temple of Pan and the temple of the Nymphs.
The Caryatid columns taken from the Erechtheum Temple on the Acropolis -- now replaced with replicas -- and various archaic sculptures will be displayed on the ramps and the first floor. A cafeteria and restaurant will be located on the second floor, while the third floor will be devoted to the display of the Parthenon Marbles.
Regarding the controversy over the ministry's plans to demolish two 1930s-era art deco buildings on Areopagitou Street that partially block the view of the Acropolis from the museum's lower floors, Liapis said he would continue his predecessor's policy, namely, to advocate their expropriation and demolition.
According to the minister, the old museum on the Acropolis will be used to display items and materials to help visitors gain a better understanding of the site, such as illustrations by 16th and 17th century travellers, and before the Parthenon and the other buildings on the Acropolis suffered extensive damage from a 1688 siege. Other materials will describe archaeological digs around the site, photographs of brass and copper statues that were at the Acropolis and were only known through the copies and other information.
Caption: An external view of the new Acropolis Museum's southeast side on Monday, Sept. 24, 2007. ANA-MPA / ORESTIS PANAGIOTOU.
 PM meets with health, farm ministersPrime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Monday morning conferred with Health Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos, followed by a meeting with Deputy Health Ministers George Constantopoulos and George Papageorgiou.
Commenting after the meeting, the health minister said substantial work has been accomplished so far in the sector, adding that efforts will continue for even better results in the months to come.
The draft law on primary healthcare will be tabled in Parliament next month, while a major reform of procurements process will be completed in the coming period, allowing for savings, infrastructure improvement and the creation of a new updated national healthcare network, he stressed.
The sector of health is among the main priorities of the re-elected government, Avramopoulos underlined, adding that the objective set is to create conditions for the restructuring of the two-decades-old National Health System (ESY), with higher standards and one able to meet the current society's needs.
Afterwards, Karamanlis met with new Agricultural Development Minister Alexandros Kontos and new Deputy Minister Costas Kiltidis.
Kontos told reporters afterwards that he briefed the premier on the ministry's programme for the first 100 days in office, noting that the priority was the plan for the restoration of the recently fire-stricken regions.
He also said they also discussed issues concerning the ministry's affiliated entities and organisations, aimed at increasing exports, strengthenng and reinforcing the competitiveness of the Greek farm production, and, by extension, boosting the incomes of Greek farmers
Asked about a long-discussed plan to diversify cash crop cultivations, Kontos said the goal was the qualitative upgrading of traditional farm products, as well as supporting "alternative farming", which he explained referred to products produced on a small scale in many parts of the country by groups of young farmers.
Caption: Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis. ANA-MPA
 Top PASOK cadres on leadership electionThe need for a united, tight and collective PASOK was stressed by the main opposition party's high-profile MP Evangelos Venizelos, a contender for the party's leadership following PASOK's stinging defeat in elections last week, in an interview appearing in an Athens daily.
Venizelos said he was seeking the party leadership "in the name of ideals, convictions, values and policy positions" of the party, as formulated by the recent political developments.
Explaining his decision to announce his candidacy on the very night of the election defeat, which generated heated criticism by a section of party supporters, Venizelos said he had waged a battle for current party leader George Papandreou to become prime minister, "but I could not watch the sky falling down on our heads and allow us to think that we had gotten taller and were touching the clouds".
Venizelos cited his aspiration for PASOK to once again become a "majority trend" and to also once again "express the ... centre-left majority that deserves to govern (the country) and to penetrate New Democracy's electoral field".
His interview was carried in the Athens daily "Vima".
In a separate interview appearing in the Sunday edition of the "Eleftherotypia" newspaper, PASOK MP and former European Commissioner Anna Diamantopoulou referred, in general terms, to a possible candidacy for the party leadership.
"We need a leadership that has political adequacy, dynamism, positions, and eagerness for work; one that responds to the common sentiment, is a pioneer, and actively respects the citizens; a leadership that deserves and can win the people's confidence. PASOK deserves such a leadership in its new beginning. It is my duty to the citizens and the party to move in that direction," she said.
Meanwhile, opinion polls were published in the Sunday editions of "Eleftheros Typos" and "Proto Thema" newspapers regarding preferences for PASOK's leadership.
A Metron Analysis poll appearing in the former indicated that 30.2 percent of respondents preferred current leader George Papandreou, while 42.8 percent preferred Venizelos. Of those respondents who are also PASOK voters, Papandreou was preferred by 38.5 percent against 46.2 percent for Venizelos.
In an ALKO opinion poll appearing in the latter paper, 21.8 percent of respondents said they want Papandreou for PASOK leader, against 38 percent for Venizelos. Of those respondents who are also PASOK voters, 22.9 percent said want Papandreou, while 52.8 percent said they preferred Venizelos.
The new party leader will be elected during a special session of the party's national council session on Nov. 11.
Caption: PASOK leader George Papandreou. ANA-MPA photo
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