Friday, October 26, 2007

Greek revival: High style in Athens

Ochre & Brown Boutique Hotel has a prime location in the Psyrri district
The clothing boutique Bettina carries haute designers and edgier labels
Head to Pasaji for a mix of traditional and modern Mediterranean cuisine

By Eleni N. Gage

CNN -- Since the 2004 Olympics, Greece's ancient capital, Athens, has undergone a much-needed face-lift. And with a new look drawing international attention, the city is hitting its stride. Athens has a thriving contemporary art scene that contrasts with its ancient landmarks.
True to the hotel's name, the 11 modern rooms at the new Ochre & Brown Boutique Hotel (7 Leokoriou St.; 30-210/331-2950;; doubles from $230) are swathed in earthy colors and brightened with accents of bright red, orange and pink. The hotel's best asset: a prime location in the up-and-coming Psyrri district, bridging old and new Athens. Stroll the nearby pedestrian walkway that encircles the Acropolis, or spend time in the modern art galleries and hub of Athens's thriving nightlife.

If you prefer Neoclassical opulence to boutique flair, check into the 1877 Hotel Grande Bretagne (Syndagma Square; 30-210/333-0000;; doubles from $781). The ground floor holds a 12,000-square-foot spa with six thermal suites. Even more impressive is the rooftop restaurant, which has floor-to-ceiling windows and views of the Acropolis.

The affordable gray and blue Periscope (22 Haritos St.; 30-210/729-7200;; doubles from $200) pays homage to modern-day Athens. Twelve of the hotel's 21 guest-room ceilings are papered with aerial photos of the city.

Set in the fashionable Kolonaki neighborhood, the clothing boutique Bettina (29 Anagnostopoulou St. and 40 Pindarou; 30-210/339-2094) carries haute designers such as Superfine on the ground floor and edgier labels --ThreeAsFour and Greek newcomer Angelos Frentzos -- on the top two.

Around the corner, the tiny jewelry shop Apriati (29 Pindarou; 30-210/360-7878) sells whimsical baubles. Most noteworthy are the 18-karat-gold necklaces that come with your choice of pendants: a hotel-room key or a pig (in honor of the current Chinese year).

Greece's hottest export these days? Mastiha, or mastic, a pungent resin from a tree that grows only on the island of Chios and is known for its therapeutic properties (a mastiha spa just opened in New York City). At the Mastiha Shop (6 Panepistimiou Sudagma; 30-210/363-2750), you'll find flavored sweets as well as beauty products from the coveted Greek naturopathic line, Korres.

The Center of Hellenic Tradition (36 Pandrossou St.; 30-210/321-3023), arguably the prettiest store in Plaka, the city's tourist hotbed, forgoes kitschy souvenirs for ceramic plates from the island of Rhodes and intricately carved wooden frames and trays from Epiros.

Do . Athenian heritage is visible at every turn, from the sculptures at the National Archaeological Museum (44 Patission; 30-210/821-7717; to the collection of Cypriot antiquities at the Museum of Cycladic Art (4 Neophytou Douka St.; 30-210/722-8321; But over the past several years, the city's contemporary art scene has evolved, with museums such as the Herakleidon Experience in Visual Arts (16 Thissio; 30-210/346-1981; and the new three-story Pireos Street Annexe (138 Pireos St.; 30-210/345-3111; staging rotating exhibitions of recent art and photography.

After dark, bypass the touts trying to lure you into Plaka's mediocre night spots and head to Brettos Bar (41 Kydathineon St.; 30-210/323-2110). This narrow hideaway has 28 different liqueurs, all distilled in-house. Flavors range from amaretto to the surprisingly subtle rose petal. To hear live traditional Greek music, swing by the spacious, low-lit restaurant lounge Hrisomilo (12 Agatharchou; 30-210/331-7061), in the Psyrri district.

Eat. French food with a Greek twist earned Spondi (5 Pyrronos St.; 30-210/752-0658; dinner for two $200) a Michelin star in 2003. The three-story Neoclassical restaurant serves dishes such as roast lamb with candied lemon, pineapple, and coriander -- and, for dessert, a velvety chocolate ganache cake with tonka-bean ice cream.

At Cretan-inspired Alatsi (13 Vrasida; 30-210/721-0501; dinner for two $116), writers and artists gather for fresh stamangathi greens drizzled in lemon and olive oil -- the secret to long life, according to the locals -- and stewed chicken with noodles.

For a mix of traditional and modern Mediterranean cuisine, head to Pasaji (Stoa Spiromilou, CityLink; 30-210/322-0714; dinner for two $77). Don't miss the addictive Anatolian phyllo -- wrapped rolls stuffed with graviera cheese.

The low-key taverna Filoistron (23 Apostolou Pavlou; 30-210/342-2897; dinner for two $45) sticks to delicious basics such as rollakia -- braised suckling pig wrapped in eggplant. Snag a table on the roof deck for a spectacular nighttime view of Mount Lycabettus.

Photo:The Orthosox Cathedral of Korica

“Unknown persons” burned some objects inside cathedral but many people who where walking near cathedral at the moment, reacted immediately stopping the fires.

After a meeting a front of Orthodox Cathedral of Korca by Romes Community, means that during the night “unknown persons” have burned some objects inside Cathedral, stimulated also with super carburant explosive. The reaction of orthodox community of Korca has been admired which together with police forces made under control the fires.

Is the firs time that failed a tentative to burn the must Orthodox Cathedral of Albania, in Korca Rergion, constructed after 1997. In Albanian opinion this tragic eveniment has been not evidenced as the bad precedent to destruct the religions harmony of Albania, even according to orthodox community, the vandalism against Byzantine Churches of Albania, have been target to violate existing.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Brutal incident against the represent of Greek Minority in Albanian Parliament
Photo: Vangjel Tavos
On Wednesday night the private house of Parliament Member of Albania (Socialist Party) in Argirokaster Region, Jorgutsati village, Vangjel Tavos has been violated from polices authority. According to “News 24 TV” an independent broadcaster media in Tirana, Tavos also a represent of Greek Minority in Albanian Parliament, has denounced the arrogance used from security authorities during a control with out persecutor office mandate.

Tavos accuses police Albanian authority for brutal violation of civil rights on press conference made after incident. Tavos who in this time was in Tirana, was informed from his parents in Jorgutsati for brutal intervention inside his private house from police uniform. “Is absurd this eveniment to control a member of Albanian parliament having also “special mandate”. “For what raisons makes ..said Tavos.

This is the second time that the Albanian authority has "violated" the Greek represent in Albanian Parliament. Tow years ago in an incident near village Nepravista, Argirokaster Region, Tavos has been target from Special Forces of Albanian authority violating him during a demonstration of his electorate minority zone.
Macedonian policeman killed in ambush near Kosovo

Wed Oct 24, 2007 11:58am EDT

SKOPJE, Oct 24 (Reuters) - A Macedonian policeman was killed and two were injured when their patrol car was ambushed by armed men in a volatile region near the border with the breakaway Serbian province of Kosovo, officials said on Wednesday."

A police team patrolling the area near the Macedonia-Kosovo border was ambushed and shot at with automatic rifles," a police spokesman told Reuters."They lost control and their vehicle crashed."The incident took place near the border post of Kodra Fura. The area is not far from the village of Tanusevci, an ethnic Albanian enclave that was at the centre of a 2001 separatist insurgency that was resolved by NATO and EU diplomacy.

Armed gangs and smugglers have carved out a police no-go area around Tanusevci, heightening fears of regional unrest if ethnic Albanians in Kosovo lose patience with the West's stalled efforts to grant them independence from Serbia.
Albania Lobbies for a NATO Seat

Albania's parliamentary speaker says with troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, her nation is keen to align itself with the West, and wants Canada's support for an independent Kosovo.

By Jeff DavisIn advance of the 2008 NATO meeting in Bucharest where her country's entry into the security partnership will be decided, Jozefina Topalli, the speaker of the Albanian parliament was in Ottawa last week lobbying the Canadian government for its support. Ms. Topalli met with Foreign Affairs Minister Maxime Bernier, the speakers of both the House and Senate, as well as senators serving on the defence and immigration committees. She says that Albania has the support of the United States as well as "the main important countries of Europe," in its accession bid. She said that Canada's support is also very important and that she was "very satisfied" with the meetings she had. Ms. Topalli says her country has long desired closer ties with the West through NATO and the European Union. Membership in NATO, she says, would make the international community see her country as part of Europe and would be a step towards entry into the European Union. Despite not being a NATO member, she says, Albania has pulled its weight on peacekeeping missions and in the American war on terror. Albania currently has troops in Iraq and Bosnia-Herzegovina, as well as 200 in Afghanistan. While these numbers may be small on the grander scale, she says, it is a significant contribution for a country of only 3.6 million. She adds that for years her country has spent two per cent of its budget on the military–something many NATO members fail to do. The NATO memberships of Macedonia and Croatia will also be decided at Bucharest. Ms. Topalli also lobbied for Canadian support of the Ahtissari Package that would allow the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo to transfer its responsibilities to Kosovo's government. The Ahtisaari Package, which must be adopted by the UN Security Council to take effect, would be a seminal step towards an independent Kosovo. Currently, Kosovo remains a province of Serbia although Serbia has not governed the country in any meaningful way since 1999 when the UNMIK took over after a war between NATO and Serb forces. Over 90 per cent of Kosovo's population is ethnic Albanian. The International Crisis Group, among others, says that Russia is using its power in the Security Council to limit Kosovo's independence. Russia has so far been successful, using its influence to have a draft resolution of the Ahtissari proposal formally discarded after it withheld support. Russia is using the Kosovo issue, Ms. Topalli says, as an instrument to pressure Western countries. "They are using Kosovo and they are blocking...the Ahtisaari Package because they want to demonstrate with this that they are an important factor on the global scene," she says. Her country is concerned with Russian actions, she says, because the region is not within Russia's sphere of influence and the resolution of Kosovo's status "is not a Russian issue." Delaying a final decision on Kosovo's status, she says, could destabilize the region. "I'm very concerned that if they're going to postpone and postpone the independence of Kosovo, the situation can be more risky," Ms. Topalli says. Piotr Dutkiewicz, director of Carleton University's Institute of European and Russian Studies, says he understands Russia's interest in Kosovo. The Balkan region, which is home to many Slavs and Orthodox Christians, bears many similarities to Russia and has traditionally had good relations with Russia. As a result, he says, the Russians see it as an area of interest to them and are resisting its drift into the Western sphere of influence. Furthermore, he says, "the way the Kosovo issue will be solved or unsolved will give Russia a good indicator how the international community will interpret some other frozen conflicts in which Russia is deeply involved." The term 'frozen conflicts' refers to a number of ongoing sovereignty disputes that followed the fall of the Soviet Union. These conflicts are transpiring in areas such as Transnistria, South Ossetia and Abkhazia –regions close to Russian borders. He says that statehood for Kosovo would inspire these areas to pursue a similar path. "This will trigger a process that will have major international implications," he says

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Research Institute for European and American Studies, Athens
By Stavros Markos
(Member of the World Security Network, Southeastern European Office)
Copyright: Stavros Markos on line

The Albanian Parliament prohibits the Hellenic Beneficences Activities in Albania

The Albanian Parliament approved the discontinuation (by law) of the activities of foundations operating in the country. The decision affected quite a few organizations but the most important ones where the Greek investments. The Diagnostic Orthodox Center, the Greek School “Arsakeio” in Tirana and some other benefactor activities of the Orthodox community are obligated to close down or would have to continue their activity in “accordance to their financial obligations to Albanian authority”.

The HRU Party has been against the government on this, even though it is a coalition member of Berisha`s cabinet. Vangjel Dule and two other MP's have voted against the decision requesting also the resignation of the Finance Minister Ridvan Bode and the reformation of the Albanian Government. Dule said that any new position of the government has to be particularly transparent in relation to the public finances.

The Diagnostic Orthodox Center has the most Modern Medical Scanner in Albania which was provided by an initiative of the Archbishop Anastasios and with the cooperation of the Autocephalous Orthodox Church of Albania, and 2 Greek NGO’s: The Orthodox Center “Poreuthentes” in Athens, and the Human European Network of Human Development in Ioannina.

Medical clinics of the Orthodox Church also exist in other parts of Albania (Korça, Kavaja, Lushnja, Gjergucati, Gjirokaster), and a mobile dental clinic provides free dental care to young and old people in different parts of the country.

According to political observers and domestic analysts, the anti-Hellenic rhetoric continues to rise in Albania particularly because of the Kosovo status final negotiations; “Chameria issue" and the status of Albanian emigrants in Greece. In addition, last week in Southern Albania the community of Himara Region has demonstrated in the center of Himara Municipality against the land and proprieties assimilation process ordered by the Albanian tribunals and the government, which uses any “administrative measure” to change the property identity with false documents. The protesters sent an ultimatum to the Prime Minister Berisha to consider their requests before violent protests enacts against the local Albanian authorities.

ALI AHMETI: "One day Albanians of FYROM will unite with Albania"

Ali Ahmeti has declared to the Newspaper "SHQIP" the unification of the Albanians in FYROM with Albania and Kosovo. Ahmeti, who is the ex-political leader of UCK in FYROM on 2001; currently he is the leader of the Union Democratic Integration Party of FYROM (BDI, the most important Albanian Party in Parliament, now in opposition). The politician stated for an eventual union with Albania not only for the Kosovo Albanians but also for the ones residing in Western FYROM.

The declaration of Ali Ahmeti has shocked the foreign diplomats and institutions in Tirana, especially since another Albanian Kosovo politician, Rexhep Qosja, made similar remarks. Qosja in an interview on "SHQIP" newspaper called towards the Albanians of Kosovo to energize themselves for an eventual unification between Tirana and Prishtina. "The Greater Albania must become a reality" said Qosja on "SHQIP" newspaper.

One month ago, the former Prime Minister of FYROM Lupco Georgjewski declared around the very real probability of a division of the country in two parts between Albanians and the rest of the population. The Former Prime Minister also has declared himself a Bulgarian national in front of the country's parliament, thus socking the public and the opinion makers of that state.
Tirana is already "de facto" united with Kosovo, since the Kosovo Albanian frontier line is accessible for all Kosovo citizens with UNMIK document who travel en masse without border restrictions. Tirana provides Albanian passports to any Albanian of Kosovo who works or is student, while it prepares the provision of Albanian citizenship for all their ethnic compatriots across the neighboring states.

A week ago, BDI (The Democratic United for Integration Party), who is a non parliamentary member Party, but a strong supporter of the so-called "chameria community" urged the Albanian government to support their efforts against Greece in relation to the "chameria issue". The Chameria Community has members in the Albanian Parliament and in some Municipalities such are Vlora, Delvina, and Saranda.

During his speech last month in the United Nations, the Prime Minister of Albania Sali Berisha declared that: "We do not support any rhetoric declaration for Greater Albania that it is being made by the Albanian nationalists. The Albanian Government is making every effort to join the NATO Alliance and the EU".

Ali Ahmeti has also visited Tirana last week ago and met the Albanian leaders including the President Bamir Topi. There are various political developments that are being surfacing lately in Albania and most certainly they are all related to the Kosovo resolution and the dynamics of the nationalism in the mainstream Albanian society.

Monday, October 22, 2007

The Northern Epirus Forum and Himara Community will protest a front of Albanian Embassy in Greece at November 5, 2007.

The violation of Human Rights, the assimilisation process of lands and proprieties of Greek Community occupied from Albanian Mafia, the abusive decisions of fascist Albanian tribunals against the interest of Greek Community, the vandalism against Orthodox Churches, the prohibition of Greek Masmedia and TV stations for Greek Community who lives in Northern Epirus (Southern Albania) are the must important issues of massive protest against the Albanian government.
Tom Hanks helping Greece get back on Hollywood's radar
Photo: Rita Wilson, right, director of the short film 'The Trap,' arrives with her husband Tom Hanks for the premiere of 'Glamour Reel Moments,' a trio of short films directed by women and based on true stories written by Glamour magazine readers, in Los Angeles, Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2007. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello

by John Hadoulis Fri Oct 19, 2007
ATHENS (AFP) - Decades after serving as the setting for hit films like "The Guns of Navarone" and "The Big Blue", Greece has elicited help from Oscar-winning actor Tom Hanks to get back on Hollywood's radar.

The Hollywood star, whose wife Rita Wilson is of Greek descent, is helping bankroll two movies which officials here hope will translate into extra tourist arrivals at the country's archaeological sites and island holiday spots. One production stars Nia Vardalos, the Greek-Canadian writer and star of "My Big Fat Greek Wedding", the 2002 romantic comedy that became one of the most successful independent US box office productions of all time.
Titled "My Life in Ruins", the new comedy centres on a tour guide played by Vardalos and was given rare permission to shoot in key Greek archaeological sites, including the Acropolis in Athens, Delphi and Ancient Olympia. The second production is a film version of the hit Broadway musical "Mamma Mia", starring Pierce Brosnan and Meryl Streep, and was shot on the Aegean islands of Skiathos and Skopelos in August.

The back-to-back Hanks projects are a welcome boon to a Greek state eager for a fresh start after decades of scaring away big-name productions with a combination of nightmarish bureaucracy, poor organisation and sheer ineptitude. "In the 1980's, the word in Hollywood was that Greece was an unwelcoming place to shoot a film," acknowledged Markos Holevas, director of the Hellenic Film Commission set up in May to facilitate foreign productions in the country.
"Now there is a desire to change things ... the Greek state has realised (the benefits) and wants to promote Greece through film ... and Tom Hanks with Rita Wilson were the first to respond to this policy."

"The message is: forget the past, let's make a new start," Holevas said.
Greece's picturesque islands, many of them major tourist destinations, have provided the backdrop for scenes in recent films, but have not served as major movie locations.
The Ionian island of Cephalonia was in 2001 the site of "Captain's Corelli's Mandolin" starring Nicholas Cage, while the Aegean island of Santorini had a scene in "Tomb Raider: Cradle of Life" with Angelina Jolie two years later.
Greece also apparently had a chance to host Oliver Stone's 2004 blockbuster "Alexander" but the government failed to pursue the offer, Holevas said. The country boasts impressive archaeological sites that have long been in demand for both television commercials and films, but projects have routinely run afoul of strict regulations laid out by Greek archaeologists. And amid price hikes following its adoption of the euro, Greece has had a hard time competing with neighbouring Balkan and eastern European countries which can combine lower production costs with similar landscapes for location shots.
"Foreign productions have a tendency to get ripped off here," noted producer Christina Aspropotamiti, who worked on an American documentary shot in Athens last year.
She said she was stunned when she sought permission to film long-range shots of the Parthenon, the classical temple atop the city's famed Acropolis citadel.
"The local archaeological office asked us for 1,500 euros (2,120 dollars) per square metre (per 10 square feet) of the entire Acropolis site ... at those rates it would have made better sense to just buy the place," she said.
Political sensitivities have also complicated film plans, as in the case of the 1984 production of "Eleni" -- an American film starring John Malkovich on the thorny topic of the 1944-1949 Greek Civil War. "The film showed the communists brutalising the areas they occupied during the Civil War," said the film's co-producer Nick Gage, a Greek-American journalist whose biography on his mother's execution by the communists was the basis of "Eleni".
"We had trouble with the film unions, which were communist-dominated at the time," Gage told AFP. "There was sabotage overnight as we began the shooting in Athens ... equipment was broken, you'd find your lights busted."
When the production company decided to relocate to southern Spain, Gage's home region of Epirus lost millions of dollars, he said.
"It was very unfortunate, we spent the equivalent of 50 million dollars in today's figures that could have been spent in Epirus, one of the poorest areas in Greece. It would have benefited the area considerably," he added.