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Athens News Agency: News in English, 08-03-05

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] PM and Cyprus president reaffirm close ties
  • [02] Minoan Crete travels to New York
  • [03] Israel honors Greek citizens

  • [01] PM and Cyprus president reaffirm close ties

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and Cyprus President Demetris Christofias reaffirmed the excellent relations and close cooperation between Athens and Nicosia on Wednesday, during their first official meeting since Christofias was elected president of Cyprus.

    During the Athens meeting, the two leaders agreed to consult and communicate more frequently in view of an anticipated peak in activity regarding the Cyprus issue during the current year. Both leaders said that implementation of the July 8 agreement of 2006 was a starting point for new initiatives aiming at a solution of the Cyprus problem and urged Turkey to give up its intransigence and fulfill its obligations toward the European Union.

    "The talks must aim at the implementation of the only agreement signed by both communities, that of 8th July. I will honour the signature of my predecessor, I hope that [Turkish-Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali] Talat will honour his own," Christofias said regarding his upcoming meeting with Talat.

    Christofias and Karamanlis also repeatedly stressed that the Annan plan was no longer on the table and that any solution must be based on United Nations resolutions and the principles of the European Union, while it must also require the withdrawal of Turkish occupation troops from the island.

    Referring to Cyprus' territory, Christofias said that the ultimate goal was the demilitarisation not just of the Cyprus Republic, both the free and occupied areas, but of all Cyprus.

    The Greek premier referred to a "window of opportunity" within 2008 and echoed Christofias in noting that the agreement of July 8th, UN resolutions and the principles of the EU provided the necessary framework for promoting a solution. He invited Turkey to fully comply with its EU obligations, particularly stressing the implementation of the additional Protocol for customs union.

    Karamanlis and Christofias further clarified that the Greek-Cypriot side would not accept very tight schedules because they did not help the process, with Christofias referring to "bitter experiences" in the past.

    The Greek and Cypriot delegations later sat down to a working dinner, while Christofias is scheduled to meet the leaders of the political parties in Parliament on Wednesday afternoon.

    Gov't ready to present social security reform bill

    The Inner Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, will convene on Wednesday afternoon to focus on the issue of closely watched social security reforms.

    Government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos told reporters that social security reforms will enforce the pension system to the benefit of future generations. He also stressed that the government has met its informal schedule for tabling the draft bill, and adequate time to allow for ample discussion on the issue and possible amendments.

    Caption: Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis (left) met visiting Cyprus President Demetris Christofias (right) in Athens on Wednesday, during Christofias first trip after being elected president. ANA-MPA - Katia Christodoulou

    [02] Minoan Crete travels to New York

    The exhibition "From the Land of the Labyrinth: Minoan Crete, 3000-1100 B.C.", in its first showing outside of Crete, will be inaugurated by culture minister Michalis Liapis on March 13 at the Onassis Cultural Center in New York, organised by the Affiliated Alexander S. Onassis Public Benefit Foundation (USA) in collaboration with the Greek ministry of culture and the archaeological museums of Crete.

    The exhibition, which will run through September 13, presents more than 280 artifacts and works of art from the ancient land of Crete, most of which have never been shown outside Greece. These fascinating objects seen together bring to life the story of Crete's luminous Minoan culture, the first palatial civilization to establish itself on European soil.

    The exhibition brings to light aspects of Minoan daily life during the second and third millennia B.C., including social structure, communications, bureaucratic organization, religion, and technology.

    The preparations for the exhibition are not limited only to an inspired lay-out of the exhibits, but also include a catalogue/treatise for visitors compiled by collaborating archaeologists on the first major palatial civilization to flourish on European soil, a related lecture series, guided tours, and an international conference that will close the exhibition on September 13, 2008.

    "Up to now, we have organised 18 exhbitions of a classical nature, on serious but lucid themes. This time, we wanted to present something that sets boundaries. The Minoan civilization is the most ancient, structured and comprehensive palatial Hellenic civilization in Europe and comprises a chronological boundary," Onassis Foundation president of the board, Antonis Papademetriou, told a press conference.

    In eleven thematic sections, the exhibition maps chronologically the establishment and great achievements of Minoan culture. Here the viewer can explore the historical and cultural context of this celebrated society and gain insight into its mysteries, such as the legends surrounding the reign of King Minos of Knossos, who commissioned the fabled Labyrinth of Greek mythology.

    Information gathered from the study of the Early, Middle, and Late Minoan periods-also known as the Prepalatial, Protopalatial, Neopalatial, and Postpalatial periods-is largely based on objects excavated from the island's burial grounds and settlements. The exhibition pieces together the culture's past by focusing on such objects as gold jewelry deposited in the rich tombs of the elite, inscribed clay tablets that reveal the basic elements of the Minoan economy, ceremonial vessels found in both palaces and tombs, and votive figures of clay, symbolic offerings to protective deities. All of these intriguing objects are on loan from the archaeological museums in Crete, in collaboration with the Hellenic Ministry of Culture.

    The island of Crete is equidistant from the three continents of Africa, Asia, and the European mainland. As a result of this advantageous location, the Minoans experienced a period of active trade with the other civilizations around the Mediterranean basin and maintained control over the sea routes. They exported timber, foodstuffs, cloth, and olive oil and in turn imported tin, copper, silver, emery, precious stones, and some manufactured objects. For their basic needs, however, the Minoans were entirely self-sufficient.

    Archaeological evidence from the Prepalatial period reveals the great changes that took place in the social structure of Early Minoan society. The rise of local elite populations, for instance, led them to commission and display different types of objects in order to convey and celebrate their social identity and rank. This kind of social differentiation gradually led to the formation of a palatial society during the Middle Minoan or Protopalatial period about 1900 B.C. Urbanization and increasing economic wealth brought about bureaucratic change, including the rise of powerful social classes and ruling groups. Major palaces were built at Knossos and Malia in northern Crete, at Phaistos in the south, and at Zakros in the east. These palaces were large building complexes that served as centers of religious, economic, and social life for their inhabitants. The architecture and the layout of the palaces communicated a dynastic message, enhanced by prestigious objects and symbolic expressions of the rulers' power.

    With the palaces came the development of writing, probably as a result of record-keeping demands of the palace economy. The Minoans used a hieroglyphic script most likely derived from Egypt and a linear script, Linear A, which may have evolved from the language of the eastern Mediterranean and has yet to be deciphered. In the section of the exhibition entitled Scripts and Weights, examples of this mysterious script will be displayed, exemplified by the Linear A Tablet shown here. This sun-dried clay slab dates from the end of the Late Minoan I period and exemplifies the administrative records that listed products, goods, and people. Inscriptions have also been found on various important objects, such as double-sided axes, pottery, seals, and stone vessels. The exhibition includes as well tablets in Linear B script, which was deciphered in the 1950s by M. Ventris and J. Chadwick. The symbols of this script reflect an early form of the Greek language that was spoken by the Myceneans, who had arrived in Crete by the second half of the fifteenth century B.C.

    The Religion and Ritual section of the exhibition reveals one of the most important and fascinating aspects of the Minoan culture. The figure of a female goddess, the protector of nature and fertility, occupies the predominant place in the hierarchy of deities. Common sacred symbols of Minoan religion include the bull, such as the chlorite Bull's-Head Rhyton found at ZakrosĀ¬ and double axes made of bronze, silver, or gold placed in areas of worship, such as this Votive Double Axe found in the Arkalochori cave. Numerous figurines depict worshipers, whereas animal figurines were symbolic offerings to deities.

    In the section devoted to the Colorful World of Murals, we see another form of communication that the Minoan developed-the art of large-scale wall paintings. Minoan painters covered the walls of palaces and urban mansions with images of Cretan life and special ceremonies. Using the fresco technique-by which Minoan painters applied earthy colors to wet surfaces that even today retain their vivid quality-figurative murals such as the Partridge Fresco illustrate their world.

    Workshops specialized in the production of palatial or personal items and luxurious objects, such as jewelry, seals, miniature works of art, and inlays for implements and furniture. Significant advances were made in techniques for jewelry making, seal engraving, and pottery production. As shown in the Pots and Potters, Seal Engraving: Great Art in Miniature, and Jewels for Life and Death, artistic works of this period reveal the highly refined techniques perfected in workshops by specialized artisans. Exquisite filigree, granulated jewelry, and carved seal stones convey their sensitivity to materials, which included clay, gold, stone, ivory, and bronze. A related section, Masterpieces in Stone, demonstrates the Minoans' achievements in stone work, which resulted in the production of high-quality artifacts of great beauty. Labor-intensive objects, such as sophisticated saucers, bowls, and bottles, were constructed with innovative devices, including drills and polishing tools. Even everyday objects, such as the Beekeeping Vessel displayed in the section Alimentation and Aromatics, brings another dimension to this exhibition as it draws the viewer into the everyday activities of the ancient Minoan citizen.

    In the Final Palatial or Late Minoan III A-B period, the arrival of the Mycenaeans gave rise to a new central power. The establishment of the Mycenaean bureaucracy represents yet another period of change in Minoan civilization. The exhibition shows how the serious changes brought about by this power shift are evident in new pottery shapes, individually vaulted tombs, and the appearance of Linear B script. Lavishly decorated swords and a rare Boar's-Tusk Helmet, such as those displayed in the Warriors and Weaponry section, along with other precious metals and jewelry, are evidence that a proud and ostentatious military class developed in Crete from about 1450 to 1300 B.C., after the coming of the Mycenaeans.

    "From the Land of the Labyrinth: Minoan Crete, 3000-1100 B.C." was organized by Maria Andreadaki-Vlazaki, Vili Apostolakou, Christos Boulotis, Nota Dimopoulou-Rethemiotaki, Lefteris Platon, and Giorgos, Rethemiotakis. The Onassis Cultural Center collaborated with the Hellenic Cultural Ministry in arranging loans from the Archaeological Museums of Herakleion, Khania, Rethymnon, Haghios Nikolaos, Hierapetra, Siteia, and Kissamos in Crete.

    The exhibition will be open Monday through Saturday, from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

    Admission will be free to the public.

    [03] Israel honors Greek citizens

    An event was held at the Jewish Cultural Centre of Athens on Tuesday evening to honor three Greek citizens for their efforts to save fellow Greek Jews amid the dour Nazi occupation of the country during WWII (1941-1944).

    Israel's ambassador to Greece Ali Yahya praised the three individuals, who were honored by the State of Israel for their courage during the occupation.

    The Israeli envoy and the president of the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece (KIS), Moses Constantines, bestowed the prestigious "Righteous Among the Nations" awards, given out by the Yad Vashem Institute and Museum to non-Jews who risked their lives to rescue Jews during the Holocaust.

    The awards were received by the nephew and son of the now deceased recipients: Constantinos Karamanlis (no relation to the late Greek statesman and prime minister), his sister, Angeliki, and her husband, Costas Doukas.

    One of four people given shelter by the Doukas' in the Athens district of Ambelokipi during the war, Moshe Salario, also attended the emotional event after arriving from Israel.

    Salario, his brother Mino, their mother, Rachel, and sister, Matilda, were given refuge during the occupation in the Doukas' home.

    The ambassadors of the United States, France, Hungary and Poland also attended the event.

    Caption: A file photo dated Sunday, Jan. 28, 2007, shows a wreath-laying ceremony in the northern port city of Thessaloniki, the capital of the Macedonia province, in front of a Holocaust monument in Eleftherias Square dedicated to the memory of the Greek Jews killed during the Second World War. ANA-MPA/MEGAPRESS/ B. GIRITZIOTIS

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