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Athens News Agency: News in English, 11-12-26

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Foreign Ministry on Yilmaz's claim
  • [02] The EyeHarp, an eye-tracking based musical instrument
  • [03] Gang of foreign nat'ls charged in string of robberies

  • [01] Foreign Ministry on Yilmaz's claim

    AMNA--The Greek Foreign Ministry on Monday said allegations of former Turkish Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz who claimed that Turkey's "deep state' apparatus sent agents to burn forest areas in Greece between 1995 and 1997 were 'serious' , underlining that this report must be further investigated.

    Foreign Ministry spokesman Grigoris Delavekouras noted that "the Greek side is expecting to be briefed by the relevant Turkish authorities". amna

    Political parties reactions

    A main opposition New Democracy (ND) sector head referred to "ominous shadows" in Greek-Turkish relations, while calling on the Erdogan government in Ankara to immediately provide Athens with the necessary and comprehensive information into every facet of the allegation. Moreover, ND deputy Panos Panayiotopoulos said a full restitution of damages should be provided if the charges stick, while the Turkish side would also have to pledge that such "black operations" have ceased to be planned and executed by Turkish intelligence agencies or their affiliates.amna

    "The political issue that has arisen is huge and must be dealt with, amongst others, by the European Union's institutional organs, which today's Turkey wants to approach," the former ND minister said.

    On his part, LA.O.S party leader and founder George Karatzaferis reminded that Greece's "political establishment" had lazily referred to his "extremist positions" when in the past he charged that Turkish interests were behind such wildfires.

    "Now, from the lips of a former Turkish prime minister a crime is confessed. They (former Greek leaders) can be proud of their (Turkish) friends and 'koumbari'," he said in a written statement. amna

    Finally, MP Dora Bakoyannis, a former foreign minister in the previous Karamanlis government, cited what she called the "most heinous of Turkey's practices ... ones which create a major political issue," in statements following Yilmaz's claims that the one-time Tansu Ciller government allocated "secret funds" to torch Greek forests.

    Bakoyannis also called for the claims to be aired in EU and international fora and for compensation to be demanded.

    [02] The EyeHarp, an eye-tracking based musical instrument

    AMNA--A close friend's accident and a film about a quadriplegic, 'The Sea Inside', were two profound moments in Zacharias Vamvakousis' life that changed his outlook and way of thought. Those were the moments when the now 28-year old Vamvakousis decided to use his love of music to contribute to improving the lives of people with severe mobility problems, and thus the EyeHarp was born.

    "I believe that we feel happy only when we contribute to the people around us, and through music we can give beauty to those around us," Vamvakousis tells AMNA.

    The EyeHarp project, part of Vamvakousis' master thesis in Sound and Music Computing at the Pompeu Fabra University (UPF) in Barcelona, Spain, last June, under the supervision of Rafael Ramirez, is a musical instrument for people with severe mobility difficulties, including quadriplegics who have only the use of their eyes.

    Indeed, the main goal of the project is to allow people with paralysis resulting from Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis to play music using only their eyes.

    Using special software and a camera, the user is able to compose music in real-time and play melodies only through eye movement or head movement.

    Vamvakousis tested the functionality of his EyeHarp at the Foundation for Cerebral Palsy (paralysis) in Catalonia, where patients had the opportunity to play music by simply moving their heads.amna

    The EyeHarp is compatible with all mouse-operated equipment, and can also be used by people with a lesser degree of mobility impairment.

    The software is specially designed for use with eye-trackers, but because these are usually high cost, Vamvakousis developed his own, low-cost device.

    Zacharias Vamvakousis was born and raised in Athens, and received his degree from the University of Athens' department of Informatics and Telecommunications. He also has a degree in classic harmony and the accordion. For years he played the accordion in several musical ensembles together with his brother Elias, who is a composer, musician and singer.amna

    Vamvakousis' next goal, in the doctorate programme he is following at the same university (UPF), in collaboration wit his old alma mater (at the University of Athens), is to investigate additional ways of interaction for people with mobility impairments, such has whether electroencephalograph devices can be used for one to play a melody only through thought (brainwaves), and also the adaptation of the musical instrument to the specific needs of people suffering from a variety of disabilities.

    [03] Gang of foreign nat'ls charged in string of robberies

    AMNA--Two Albanian nationals, a man and woman, were arrested by police on Saturday during a raid of an abandoned residence in the extreme northern Athens district of Afidnes.

    The two suspects, 23 and 33, are accused of at least nine armed robberies in the Kapandriti and Afidnes communities, along with two alleged accomplices that remain at large.

    Authorities recovered weapons, cash, jewelry, household goods and other stolen items while arresting the pair and during a subsequent search of two other residences. amna

    Police said the alleged gang of four waited for home owners to return to their residences or leave them at nightime, before forcing victims back into the homes at gun and knife point.

    One of the arrested suspects was identified as Ilirjan Shaholli, aka "Ertis", 23, while one of the two wanted men was listed as Odise Zyberi.amna

    A prosecutor ruled that the ongoing criminal investigation into the case warranted the release of the names and photographs of the alleged suspects.

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