Welcome, 77 artists, 40 different points of Attica welcomes you by singing Erotokritos an epic romance written at 1713 by Vitsentzos Kornaros

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Greek prime minister shut out of art exhibit opening reception by shutdown

The Greek delegation was not pleased. Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, in Washington and New York for official business, planned to attend to the opening reception on Wednesday of “Heaven and Earth: Art of Byzantium from Greek Collections ...


Court: Yes to Greek Property Rights in Turkey

The European Court of Human Rights says Turkey must pay 5 million euros in damages to two Greek nationals who sought to acquire three buildings in Istanbul bequeathed to them by their late sister. The Strasbourg-based court's decision Tuesday ...


Gwynne Dyer Greek raid lesson from Germanys past

Two governments did bold, brave things last week. One of them quit and called a new election even though it had a viable majority in Parliament. The other arrested the leaders of a neo-fascist party on charges of heading a criminal gang. And you can't help wondering if things would have turned out a lot better if a couple of other governments had had the courage to do the same ...


Greece Takes on Golden Dawn Fascists

ATHENS: At the time of his death, Greek rapper and anti-fascist Pavlos Fyssas was little known beyond the country's underground hip-hop scene. But overnight he has became a household name and an unlikely symbol of social tension and racism in Greece.Fyssas, 34, died on September 18 after he was stabbed by a supporter of the far-right Golden Dawn party.Six Golden Dawn MPs, 14 party members ...


Sweden Best Place to be Old Bulgaria Better than Greece

Bulgaria has received a higher rank than neighboring Romania and Greece in the Global AgeWatch Index, the first-ever overview of the well-being of older people around the world. Photo by Sofia Photo ...


Greek neo-Nazi party members reveal series of migrant attacks

Christos Pappas (C), lawmaker of the extreme far-right Golden Dawn party, is escorted by masked police officers to the prosecutor's office from the police headquarters in Athens on September 29, 2013 (AFP Photo / Angelos ...


Golden Dawn MPs attend first hearing

The Telegraph's Alex Spillius explains why the Greek government finally decided to act as four MPs, from the far right Greek party, Golden Dawn appear in ...


Golden Dawn leaders ran criminal underworld

Greece accused the leaders of the far-Right Golden Dawn of running an alleged criminal underworld, as four MPs appeared before Athens ...


Golden Dawn members before Greek court

Four members of Greece's far-right Golden Dawn party have appeared in court on charges of belonging to a criminal group after the killing of an anti-racism rapper by a party supporter. Ilias Panagiotaros, Ilias Kasidiaris, Nikos Michos and Yannis Lagos ...


In Mute Festival at Onassis Cultural Centre

This two-day festival that will take place from October 12 to 13 at the Onassis Cultural Center, Athens, Greece, seeks to highlight the powerful links between contemporary musical expression and the silent cinema. Electronic sounds on the verge of noise, silent melodies on acoustic instruments and frequencies at the extremes of the audible spectrum fill […]


Greece 58th in Global AgeWatch Rank

According to a new survey, on the occasion of the United Nations’ (UN) International Day of Older Persons, Greece ranks 58th in Global AgeWatch Rank on the Index, the lowest in Southern Europe. As with other countries in the region, Greece has a high proportion of older people, at 24.7% of the total population. Despite […]


Golden Dawn: Four MPs from Greece's far-right party face charges

Amid tight police security, four MPs from Greece’s Nazi-inspired Golden Dawn party appeared in court today for a preliminary hearing into charges of participating in a criminal organisation.


Small gains for index, but turnover drops below 50 mln

The Greek bourse managed to recover nearly half of Monday’s losses on Tuesday, with the main index bolstered by gains registered by blue chips OTE, EYDAP, Viohalco and Piraeus Bank. The Athens Exchange (ATHEX) general index closed at 1,021.80 points, addi... ...


Greek minister talks health tourism in NYC

Medical tourism was the focus of talks between Greek Tourism Development Minister Olga Kefaloyianni and US insurance firms and professors of medicine in New York on Tuesday. Kefaloyianni stressed that Greece has a considerable number of specialized medica... ...


Greece's Ellaktor lands project in Slovenia

Greek builder Ellaktor SA said on Tuesday that a venture led by one of its units signed a 26-million-euro contract to build a wastewater management plant in the city of Novo Mesto in Slovenia. Ellaktor holds a 54.5 percent stake in the venture, while Slov... ...


Two suspected people-smugglers netted by Greek coast guard

Coast guard officials said on Tuesday that they had arrested two suspected members of a people-smuggling ring – two Albanians, aged 47 and 16 – after a boat that had set sail from Turkey dropped off 33 undocumented immigrants on Myconos. The 47-year-old, ... ...


Greek state hospital employees launch action against mobility scheme

The union representing state hospital employees (POEDIN) on Tuesday became the latest organization to launch legal action against the government’s mobility scheme. POEDIN argues that the transfers will undermine public healthcare at a time when as many as... ...


Greek charity hotline got 650 calls daily in first half of year

The Child’s Smile 1056 hotline for abused and abandoned children, as well as families facing difficulties raising their young ones, received about 650 calls a day during the first six months of the year, the charity revealed on Tuesday. It also provided a... ...


After 38 years, New Democracy finally packs up and leaves its headquarters on Rigillis Street

For almost 38 years, the building at 18 Rigillis Street in central Athens has been identified with New Democracy, Greece’s conservative party, and by extension with the country’s post-1974 history. The two have been linked so closely that when ND head Ant... ...


Positive Political Developments In Greece And Impact On GREK

The recent arrest of the ultra-right Golden Dawn party leaders was sparked when a member of Golden Dawn murdered an anti-fascist rapper. The group had previously enjoyed impunity partly as a result of being the third most powerful party. Recent opinion ...


Golden Dawn leaders brought to court to face charges of murder and assault

Greeks stunned not only by revelations about country's far right group but also by strength of clampdown

When the moment of justice came for Golden Dawn it happened in a flash. One by one, the men who had headed the neo-Nazi party were delivered to court with lighting speed, black SUVs screeching to a halt as riot police kept onlookers at bay and agents in bulletpoof vests and balaclavas pushed the burly politicians, handcuffed and smiling, into building number six.

"We are crystal clean," one MP, Nikos Michos, managed to shout as he was led into the Athens courtroom. And then it was over.

Tuesday's scenes were the second act of a drama that started in the early hours of Saturday when counter-terrorism officials, in an unprecedented operation, arrested the most prominent figures of Greece's far-right Golden Dawn movement on charges of operating a criminal organisation masked as a political group.

Nikolaos Michaloliakos, the extremists' enigmatic leader, was said to be in his pyjamas when police surrounded his home and knocked at the door. Like his second-in-command, Christos Pappas, who subsequently surrendered, and the four MPs who were hauled before a public prosecutor on Tuesday, he stands accused of murder, money-laundering, blackmail and illegal possession of arms.

Greeks are stunned by the latest developments. They are shocked not only by the tactics employed by police, and the ferocity with which they have clamped down on the group but also the revelations that have since emerged surrounding the country's third biggest political force.

Four years into the debt-stricken country's worst crisis in modern times, there is widespread disbelief. None more so than in the migrant communities of Athens, where the far-rightists had overseen a reign of terror, escalating attacks on dark-skinned foreigners as their ratings soared in the polls.

"Every night we've been scared," said Shahid Sahid, a Bangladeshi immigrant who has lived in the Greek capital with his wife for the past 26 years. "They would roam the streets with clubs and iron bars looking for people like me."

On Tuesday, however, Golden Dawn diehards, led by Michaloliakos's daughter, Ourania, massed at the court complex to greet the MPs as heroes. "We are with you," they cried.

The anti-immigrant party has virulently denied accusations of criminal intent, insisting it had nothing to do with the death of Pavlos Fyssas, a 34-year-old Greek musician whose brutal murder two weeks ago triggered the crackdown. The rapper died within minutes of being stabbed by a self-professed member of Golden Dawn.

As they testified before an investigating magistrate the four MPs, led by Ilias Kasidiaris, the party's one-time spokesman, claimed that the charges were politically-motivated – a reflection, he said, of the government's terror at the group's runaway success in the polls.

Eleni Zaroulia, Golden Dawn's only female MP and Michaloliakos's wife, threw a plastic cup from which she had been drinking and then spat at a journalist when asked what the party's reaction to the allegations were.

"Get out of here. I'm speaking to you in Greek!" she shouted before spitting again.

The 48-year-old MP, who has given speeches denouncing "subhuman foreigners" in parliament, will take over the reins of Golden Dawn, while her husband, believed to have been referred to as "the Führer" by cadres, remains behind bars.

On Tuesday his continuing detention looked increasingly possible as police, citing intercepted telephone calls, announced they had incontrovertible proof linking the leader to Fyssas's murder. The revelations came as ex-members described how the extremists had recruited young Greeks, often desperate for work, with promises of money and a job.

"It is very easy to join Golden Dawn but very hard to leave," one member was quoted as telling police in testimony leaked to the media. "When I stopped going to meetings I received threatening telephone calls."

In a detailed account of the "brain-washing" recruits received, another supporter described how members had been trained in Nazi-style hit-squads to attack immigrants, "especially Pakistanis for fun".

Golden Dawn has been linked to more than 300 assaults – mostly directed at migrants but more recently targeting gay people and leftists – since it was elected to the Greek parliament with almost 7% of the vote and 18 MPs in June 2011.

The far-right party has long rejected accusations that it is a neo-Nazi organisation. But those denials were roundly rebuffed this week when police unearthed Nazi paraphernalia in the houses of several of the MPs.

While Michaloliakis had a framed picture of Hitler in his home, Pappas, the party's chief policymaker and holder of some of its hardest views, kept books, pictures and flags honouring the Führer in his own maisonette – along with vintage wine bottles emblazoned with the image of the Italian dictator and fellow fascist Benito Mussolini. Both men will appear before an investigating magistrate, who will decide whether to imprison them pending trial, this week.

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The University Of Alabama's Backward Greek System Should Have Been Fixed 20 Years Ago

The University of Alabama made news last month when student paper the Crimson White published a landmark story on segregation in the school's Greek system. Among other points, the article established that there were no Black women in any UA ...


Greek right-wing Golden Dawn party's lawmakers appear in court

“We've seen cases of cranial and facial injuries, knife wounds and laceration injuries made by screwdrivers,” said Papanikolaou, a senior consultant neurosurgeon at Nikea General Hospital. “I think it's just luck that we haven't had any death


Italy's latest coalition crisis is a morbid symptom of deeper political malaise

As Silvio Berlusconi causes chaos by telling his ministers to quit, there is a despairing sense that this crisis will decide nothing

Crisis is a term that originated in the world of ancient Greek medicine. It referred to that turning point in an illness when the fate of the patient was to be decided. Italy's latest political crisis was triggered by Silvio Berlusconi's most recent survival tactic: to order the resignations from the cabinet of his ministers, in an obvious bid to impede the judicial procedure that would lead to his arrest for tax fraud and dismissal from the Senate. Amid the petty chaos of recriminations, and the parliamentary horse-trading in view of a possible second government under current prime minister Enrico Letta, there is a widespread, despairing sentiment that this particular crisis won't decide anything.

The collapse of Berlusconi's government in 2011 under the shadow of a Greek-style sovereign debt crisis, and the constitution of Letta's improbable coalition government created this spring after post-electoral deadlock, were similar crises. Their sole function was to hold at bay the commandeering of the Italian economy by the Troika (the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund) – which is now again being raised as a possibility.

Neither Mario Monti, the technocrat who served as prime minister from 2011 to 2013, nor Letta have been able to gather any significant support for their plans to adapt Italy to the EU's fiscal restrictions. How could they? Monti introduced balanced budgets into the Italian constitution, effectively neutering its provisions for social need's precedence over market imperatives. The Letta government, bringing his centre-left Partito Democratico (PD) into a doomed alliance with its historical nemesis, Berlusconi, resolved a crisis of governability by intensifying a crisis of legitimacy.

At the time, the victor appeared to be Beppe Grillo and his Five Star Movement. But his refusal to form alliances, while an initial asset in an understandably anti-political climate, appears to have diminishing returns. His irrepressible rants against the establishment often blur into the general climate of political disgust, while his periodic browbeating of Five Star MPs reminds voters of Berlusconi. His stance on alliances is both his strong point and his ultimate weakness, and it would be a surprise to see a repeat of his unexpected surge of 2013, though the rudderlessness of other parties might still play into his hands.

What of the other political forces? Somewhat like the British Lib Dems tarnished by coalition with the Tories, the PD's now imploded alliance with Berlusconi can't have endeared a constituency that will now regard it as having colluded, mainly through staggering strategic incompetence, in Berlusconi's Houdini act. Let's not forget that some of its voters were once communist supporters, and shoring up a corrupt anti-communist tycoon is bound to rankle them.

The odds are that the PD will adopt Matteo Renzi, the mayor of Florence, as leader. By most accounts, Renzi is angling for early elections. His image is that of a Blairite upstart, trying to channel public exhaustion with the political class into a modernisation – which is to say an Americanisation – of the Italian centre-left.

Ever since the ex-PD leader Walter Veltroni started praising President Kennedy as a way to jettison communism, this has been an abiding theme, manifesting itself institutionally in the desperate attempt to engineer a US-style two-party system through breathtakingly inept electoral reforms – the latest one, the "Porcellum" (after porcello, swine), was behind the impasse earlier this year.

On the right, some of Berlusconi's ministers, having done their boss's bidding, now warn about the danger of their party lurching to the extreme right. Meanwhile, attempts are afoot to manoeuvre existing MPs into another rightwing coalition, possibly to shore up a second Letta government.

So Italy's future centres around one man willing to overturn the political system to save his hide; a government agenda with little legitimacy and even less popular support; and mounting disgust which fails to find political expression.

Evidently, this crisis, whatever its short-term outcome, is but an inflection of a much deeper and more complex one, a crisis of political representation with roots in a declining economy. Antonio Gramsci described this phenomenon quite aptly in his prison notebooks: "The old is dying and the new cannot be born; in this interregnum a great variety of morbid symptoms appear."

ItalySilvio BerlusconiEuropeItalian elections 2013Alberto © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds


Paging All Excellent Magazine Editors...!

The excellent media-industry journalist Joe Pompeo, who writes for Capital New York, published a scoop about us yesterday.

Pompeo caught wind of a new investment we're making in "long form" journalism, the kind that most people associate with magazines. (Newspapers, wire services, and many digital news organizations produce a lot of this kind of journalism, too. And we've done a fair bit of it in the past.)

We are indeed making this investment, and we're looking for an excellent editor to run it for us.

This is a perfect opportunity for an ambitious, talented editor who cares about producing great stories that readers love. We'll pay this editor well — probably better than the magazine world, from what I understand — and we'll give him or her a healthy budget to work with excellent freelance writers in addition to the talented folks on our team. The editor will have free reign to develop stories across a wide variety of topics: The only common requirement will be that the stories be stories that our readers love.

Joe Pompeo described some of what we're doing and looking for in his article at Capital. In case you would like more information, I've included my responses to the questions Joe sent me below.

-So I'm told you're looking for magazine-type editor. Does this mean BI plans to start formalizing and regularly doing more of the types of longform features it's really only done sporadically up until now?   You bet. Our readers love them, so we want to do a lot more. -How many such features would you say BI has run to date?   Over the past six years? Hundreds. They're not all tens of thousands of words, obviously, and some of them are built around photography, charts, and other visuals, but they're major original features. We've also done dozens of long-form word-based stories, too.   -Not to get too ahead of ourselves, but tell me a bit more about your plans/vision/strategy for having a full-time editor commissioning longform stuff. How many such pieces would you like to see per month, per week, etc? Will all of BI's writers be expected to pitch? Do you envision building a large roster of freelancers? What sort of freelance budget will this editor have? etc. etc.   One of our new editor's responsibilities will be to decide the best frequency, length, and approach of these stories, as well as the time and resources invested in each one. Some topics don't warrant many thousands of words, and we never want to write long for the sake of writing long. The one common denominator is that they will all be stories that we think our readers will love.   We're going to make a significant investment here (hundreds of thousands of dollars), and we expect the stories to be written by both our staff and contributors. We definitely won't expect everyone in the newsroom to contribute. Researching and writing long-form word-based articles is an esoteric skill, and it's not for everyone. We have folks on our team with a very wide range of digital skills and interests, and long-form text-based stories will always be only one part of what we do.   -You've always been interested in longer pieces. In terms of deciding to make them a regular part of the mix, why now? Is it partly because of all the attention Carlson's Marisa Mayer piece received?   We were thrilled with the readership of the Mayer profile, and it increased our conviction that there's a hunger for these kinds of stories. But mostly we've just now reached the scale where we can dedicate significant resources to this. -Speaking of that piece, can you talk about it in the context of how these types of features are good for business? i.e. How many views did that piece get, and based on that, could you provide some color on how much money it made as an example of the potential to monetize these types of stories? The Mayer profile was extremely well-read — hundreds of thousands of readers worldwide — but it took six months to produce, so on a narrow financial basis, it probably wasn't a home run. But there are many other business benefits to stories like these, with the most important being that readers love them. More broadly, one of the big benefits of having a large newsroom — we have about 65 full-time journalists now — is that we can invest in a wide variety of different kinds of stories. So they don't all have to pay for themselves.   -Would you say this step is indicative of the ongoing professionalization of the BI newsroom? Since I was there, it's much larger and seems to include more people from newspapers/wires/magazines and other types of traditional backgrounds.    Yes, this is another step in our ongoing mission, which is to get better every day.  And, yes, we do now have alums of many traditional newsrooms — Bloomberg, AP, Forbes, CNET, CNN, CNBC, Entrepreneur, Discovery, and others. (We were sorry to lose you, but congratulations on the success you have all had at Capital!) -It also seems like a more formalized editing structure has started to fall into place, is that right? Does content pass before an editor's eyes now before it gets published? Yes! And the site is also no longer crippled when one of our folks sleeps in or takes the day off. -By the way, how many newsroom employees are you up to?   68! Along with a big group of awesome interns. -There will obviously be skeptics given that most of BI's energy up until now has been focused on speed/aggregation/pithyness/slideshows etc., all of which does create a sort of unpolished quality in terms of the site's overall content. What's your response to that, and what's your response to people who might say that BI's not equipped to consistently pull of longer, magazine-quality work, that it's too sloppy? Yes, there will always be skeptics. If we got a dollar every time someone said we were screwed, we'd never need another revenue stream. In terms of overall quality and polish, we've made great progress over the last several years. We obviously can still get better, and we will.   Consistently producing more great magazine-style stories will be one of our new editor's responsibilities. Anyone who just wants to produce mediocre, boring ones need not apply.   (I should add that magazine-style stories are only one kind of major feature story that our readers love. They also love visual stories and videos that have more in common with documentaries and TV packages than magazine articles. We have produced wonderful reported stories about the Canada tar sands, the crisis in Egypt, the Maine lobster industry, the Silicon Valley homeless problem, the depression in Greece, the economy and markets, the ins and outs of dozens of tech gadgets, and many other topics. If readers didn't love these stories, we wouldn't do them. But great pictures truly can be worth a thousand words, and every day our readers remind us of that.)     -Anything else to add?   I think that Business Insider, Buzzfeed, Gawker Media, Huffington Post, and others are just now beginning to show what successful digital journalism organizations can ultimately become. Unlike traditional print publications and broadcast networks, we aren't limited to one form of storytelling. Our readers love many different kinds of stories, including quick hits, long articles, syndicated stories, real-time news briefs, helpful links, insightful commentary, humor, photography, charts, video, photo-essays, live-blogs, and interactivity.  We will continue to invest in all of these kinds of stories, with the aim of making BI as helpful, valuable, and fun for our readers as we can.   From a high level, I think the digital-journalism industry is where, say, cable news was in the late 1980s. By then, CNN was proving that a dedicated news channel made sense, but they still had big hair, cheap sets, and limited editorial resources. Ten years later, they were a powerful global news organization. And ten years after that, they were the Establishment.    Joe Pompeo also asked me to send some examples of some of the long-form work we've done in the past, in addition to the Marissa Mayer biography. Here's what I sent him:   "At Last -- The Full Story Of How Facebook Was Founded" (Nicholas Carlson)   "The Startup Con Man"  (Nick Saint)   "The Story Of A Failed Startup And A Founder Driven To Suicide" (Alyson Shontell)   "The Great Marijuana Crash Of 2011" (Walter Hickey)   "How Goldman Sachs Blew The Facebook IPO"  (HB)   "INSIDE GROUPON: The Story Of The World's Most Controversial Company" (Nicholas Carlson)   "How Dunkin Donuts Ended Up Hiring A 'Psychotic Credit-Card Thief' As Director Of Communications" (Jim Edwards)   "MONEYBALL AT WORK: They've Finally Discovered What Really Makes A Great Employee" (Max Nisen)   "The Addict Who Got Clean, Got A Job, And Then Got 25 Years In Prison" (Erin Fuchs)   "INSIDE J.C. PENNEY: Fear, Distrust, And Loathing Of Ron Johnson" (Kim Bhasin)   "The Betrayal At The Heart Of Snapchat" (Jim Edwards)   'SEX AND POLITICS AT GOOGLE: It's A Game Of Thrones In Mountain View' (Nicholas Carlson)   "A Harmless Deadhead Has Been Sentenced To Die In Prison" (Erin Fuchs)   "NO CONFLICT, NO INTEREST: Twitter, John Doerr, And The Rise Of Private Stock Markets" (HB)   "BOSTON MASSACRE: The Full Story Of How Two Deranged Young Men Terrorized A City" LoGiurato and HB)

Join the conversation about this story »



Greek prime minister Antonis Samaris misses party, National Gallery exhibit ...

Washington Post (blog)Greek prime minister Antonis Samaris misses party, National Gallery exhibit ...Washington Post (blog)Greek prime minister Antonis Samaris misses party, National Gallery exhibit, due to shutdown. By The Reliable Source, Published: October 1 at 12:43 pm. Comments · Tweet. More. submit to reddit. Prime Minister Antonis Samaris (Aris Messinis / AFP/Getty ...


Golden Dawn's First Day in Court

ATHENS, Greece (AP) ? Amid tight police security, four lawmakers from Greece's extremist Nazi-inspired Golden Dawn party appeared in court on Oct. 1 for a preliminary hearing into charges of participating in a criminal organization. Anti-terrorist squad officers led them into court as a few dozen Golden Dawn supporters who had gathered outside applauded. Another three lower-ranking party members appeared before an examining magistrate earlier in the day. The party's top leadership, including its head, are among 22 people arrested in a crackdown after the fatal stabbing on Sept. 17 of a Greek anti-fascist rap singer. Arrest warrants have been issued for another 10 people.


Greece looks to cut EU presidency costs

That is only to be expected since Greece’s crisis-hit economy is now enduring its sixth year of recession, the public coffers are bare and unemployment is nearing 30 per cent. Dishing out huge amounts of cash to impress visiting diplomats ...


Greek Tragedy in Washington Obama Obamacare Republicans Ted Cruz and the shutdown

Greek tragedy is all about hubris -- overweening pride and how it brings men down. Hubris could be the story of the coming week in Washington but not for the reasons most think. As the whole world knows, this city is fixated on a standoff between the president and Congressional Republicans (all in the House, some in the Senate) over Obamacare. As of late Sunday night, reports were that ...


Fake Greek Yogurt Wins German Palates

German taste for Greek-style yogurt is growing – not for the genuine article made in Greece – but by copycats trying to cash in in the craze for the thick, creamy product that has been sweeping the U.S. too. In the last three years ...


Good riddance, Turkish school oath – but reforms don't go far enough

The Turkish PM's reform package makes some welcome concessions to Kurds. But Erdoğan is no champion of democracy

One of the most painful activities of my childhood years in Turkey was taking the student oath every Monday morning and Friday afternoon. Barely awake, in the early hours of the morning or after a long week of studying, I had to proclaim loudly: "I am a Turk, honest, hardworking. My principles are to protect the younger, to respect the elder, to love my homeland and my nation more than myself. My ideal is to rise, to progress. May my life be dedicated to the Turkish existence." It concluded with a sentence that expressed the central principle of the education system: "How happy is the one who says 'I am a Turk!'"

That oath is no more. It is gone, just like that, with a decision made by the prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his advisers. When the announcement was made on Monday, I breathed a sigh of relief but that short passage had already made its indelible mark on my consciousness. How can one forget those lucidly formulated principles of a country's founding ideology when forced to shout it twice a week for almost a decade?

The student oath was composed by Reşit Galip, who served as minister of education in 1933, the year the oath was introduced. Galip reportedly visited a school and asked the pupils to repeat his phrases. He then wrote them on a piece of paper, sent it to authorities in Ankara and in a matter of weeks the oath was being repeated in every school in Turkey.

At school the rebellious among us would avoid taking the oath: some would move their lips in sync, while others came to school late to avoid it. But the school administrations took the oath very seriously. The headmaster and his group of dedicated teachers would walk among rows of students to inspect whether it was being recited properly and with the desired level of fervour. On Fridays, when pupils would be impatient to leave for the weekend, the oath would turn into a last barrier between the boring world of education and the freedom that awaited us outside the school gates. "This is not a proper oath, children!", the headmaster would suddenly decide. "You shouted the words too quickly. I want you to shout them slower and louder and with genuine passion or I will make you take the oath as many times as I desire!"

As tedious as I found it, the oath must have irritated pupils of Kurdish and Greek origin most. A friend of a friend would repeat a slightly altered version. "I am a Kurd", he would say: "I have been forced to be dishonest. So I am hard at work on lying."

The removal of the oath was not the only reform introduced in Monday's democratisation package. The most significant change is for headscarved women, who will be allowed to work as civil servants and become parliamentarians. Political organisations like the Peace and Democracy party will be able to receive state funding, and the eight-decade long ban on Kurdish letters (q, w and x) will be abolished. However for many the reforms fell short of expectations and had nothing substantial to offer to the country's Alevis. Erdoğan's decision to postpone more significant reforms to a later date was seen as part of his strategy for next year's local elections. There were also criticisms of the manner in which the package was announced, with some commentators likening the fanfare to Ottoman officials unveiling modernisation in the 19th century.

After witnessing the draconian way in which his government handled the Gezi protests this summer, it is increasingly difficult to see the prime minister as a champion of democracy. But this doesn't change the fact that the lifting of the student oath is great news for pupils. Monday mornings will continue to bring them the realities of school and discipline, but at least they will be spared the embarrassment of shouting the antiquated slogans of a bygone era.

TurkeyRecep Tayyip ErdoganKurdsMiddle East and North AfricaKaya Genç © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds


Human trafficking in Lithuania and Eastern partnership countries: time to act

by  Justina Vitkauskaite Bernard

Human trafficking is twenty-first century’s modern form of slavery that concerns every Member State, every European neighborhood policy partner country and the whole EU. Trafficking in human beings is a severe violation of fundamental human rights and at the same time it is an extremely profitable business for organized crime. It can take different forms of exploitation starting from sexual exploitation and illegal adoption to forced labor, domestic work, illegal trade in human organs and begging. Human trafficking can target men and women, girls and boys of different age and nationality; it can target the obviously vulnerable and the supposedly strong population groups. Human trafficking relies on such methods as threats, fraud, deception and different forms of coercion and abduction. Over the past decade human trafficking has been responsible for increasing numbers of “deprived victims” which have reached epidemic proportions - and no country is immune.

The question to address is: How to overcome this dramatic phenomenon and what measures to take in order to diminish the number of victims in the EU in general and in the Eastern Partnership countries specifically? To find an answer to this it’s better to refer to the roots and causes of this phenomenon. Very often the root of this phenomenon lies in economic disparity, lack of opportunities and employment, poverty, gender inequality, discrimination and corruption. Nowadays unemployment is particularly affecting women who, striving to survive in their home countries, take up any job and leave their homes in search for work and better life abroad. Their helplessness becomes a weakness which can be exploited by traffickers who are selling cheap labor abroad where by force or by other coercive methods these women start working under slavery-like conditions. Trafficking has become a transnational type of crime extending from one country to another and requiring responses from a variety of legal fields: criminal justice, human rights and migration.

As a representative of Lithuania, I have to report that Lithuania has not only become a country of origin but the most important country of transit between Eastern and Central Europe as well as a destination country for women and girls subjected to human trafficking. Lithuanian women are victims of sex trafficking to Germany, the Netherlands, Greece, Sweden, Finland and Norway. Women form Eastern neighborhood countries are transported from these Eastern partner countries through Lithuania to Western Europe, approximately 12 % of them remain and work as prostitutes in Lithuania. Once they are entangled in the prostitution business in Lithuania, they suffer from various discriminations and sexual exploitation and are trafficked onwards to Western European countries. Over the last years Lithuania has become an important source for the trafficking in women from Eastern neighborhood countries to Western and Central European countries. The main destination countries are Germany, Denmark, the Netherlands, Spain, Italy, Sweden, the United Kingdom and other states. The smuggling or attempted smuggling of women to foreign states for the purposes of sexual exploitation and prostitution has become a widespread phenomenon in Lithuania. Unemployment and a lack of information and education markedly contribute to the spread of this scourge.

Nowadays the trafficking that increases the fastest in Lithuania is the trafficking in children, female minors and girls for forced prostitution and forced labor. In most cases the victims of such trafficking are street children and children from socially vulnerable families and families lacking strong emotional ties. Individuals from this target group can be “recruited” in the territory of one country - also from Eastern partner countries – and can later be transported abroad via various transit centers, amongst them Lithuania as well. Such dramatic phenomena need to be addressed by various legal and political instruments and actions.

Lithuania is undertaking various actions in order to combat all forms of human trafficking and to protect the rights of victims. The Government of Lithuania recently sustained the anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts by implementing several action plans and control programs in human trafficking as well as by increasing funds for victim care. Nevertheless, main challenges still remain in the level of this MS in particular and in the EU in general.

Lithuania as the Member State which holds the Presidency of the Council of the EU is also undertaking various anti-trafficking activities in cooperation with the Eastern Partnership countries. Many events with stakeholders from the Eastern Partnership countries which will focus on topic of human trafficking are scheduled in Lithuania. These events can help to build networks and to strengthen the cooperation between Lithuania and the partner countries with regard to the fight against human trafficking.

In November the Eastern Partnership Summit will take place in Vilnius. The Eastern Partnership countries have placed their hopes for the integration into the European family on this meeting. But as pointed out by many stakeholders from the European Commission, EP and European Council the most important remaining deficits of these countries are related to human rights, the rule of law, the fight against corruption - and human trafficking. These shortcomings represent big obstacles for any further progress of these countries towards the EU. To overcome these issues a lot needs to be done by the concerned Eastern Partnership countries - not only for the Vilnius Summit preparation but also with regard to further EU integration processes and a rapprochement to EU standards.

From my point of view-and this does not only apply to Lithuania and other Member States but to the Eastern partnership countries as well- in order to combat human trafficking and to ensure the effectiveness of methods against it, strong coordinated and effective actions against human trafficking between Member States and Eastern Partnership countries should be undertaken. Member States and Eastern Partnership countries should cooperate effectively with each other across borders which require the expertise, resources and efforts of many individuals and entities. To illustrate this with an example: In 2011 - 2012 the Lithuanian government collaborated with the Ukrainian government in six international trafficking investigations and this cooperation is continuing further. NGOs working in the Eastern partnership countries should continue their cooperation with the governmental authorities in the EU in the areas of human rights, employment and law enforcement which requires service provision, information sharing and advocacy. A special effort has to go to the identification of victims of trafficking among vulnerable population groups, particularly of victims of labor trafficking and of children in prostitution.

In Lithuania and in other Member States as well as in Eastern Partnership countries the main effort has to go to raising the awareness of the population in general to making the profile of the trafficking problem clear and understood. These public awareness actions should target potential adult victims of trafficking and the general population. These efforts should also be spread via various channels, for example schools and universities, and can take different forms like seminars, public lectures, discussions, distribution of brochures and diverse other anti-trafficking events. Right now Lithuania is undertaking such a public awareness action in filming a movie about a Lithuanian girl who becomes a victim of human trafficking. The distribution amongst and viewing of a movie by the general population can increase the awareness of the human trafficking problem and can contribute to understanding the flows and trends of human trafficking inside of the country as well as outside.

Adoption of the legislation against human trafficking is an effective legal instrument but further coordinated actions among Member States and non-EU countries to address trafficking in human beings need to be provided in order to put these legal instruments in practice. These coordinated actions can include the establishment of platforms, partnerships, exchange of best practices, awareness-raising campaigns and trainings among government agencies and non-governmental groups in the EU as well as outside.

Despite the implementation of different legislation targeting human trafficking, the trends and working methods of human trafficking can change and can adapt to these legal frameworks and provisions. But a better understanding of the human trafficking phenomena and an effective reaction of the population to this problem can help to diminish the flows of human trafficking. Identifying the extent of the problem in the EU as well as outside can be the key to stem the increased flows of human trafficking. In Lithuania, in the EU and outside the EU it is time to act for everybody of us on each level - local, national and European - in order to eradicate the slavery of twenty-first century, human trafficking.    


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Four Golden Dawn MPs appear before magistrate

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Greek Golden Dawn MPs before judge, call charges "fairy tale"

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Manufacturing recovery continues despite fall in factory output growth

CIPS/Markit survey reveals six-month surge for UK economy despite export slump reducing activity since August

Britain's bumpy recovery has reasserted itself following a fall in factory output growth during September, according to the latest CIPS/Markit survey.

The manufacturing sector continued to expand, prolonging a six-month period of improvement, but Markit's index of activity shows output fell back to 56.7 from the previous two-and-a-half year high of 57.1 in August. A figure above 50 indicates expansion.

The main drag on the sector's growth was a slump in export growth as new orders fell to 52.7 from 54 in August. By contrast, domestic orders powered ahead at 59.3, below August's 61.5, but higher than July's 58.3.

Employment kept up its expansionary trend in September, improving on August and maintaining a period of jobs growth that dates back to April.

Markit's survey showed that all manufacturing industries, besides textiles and clothing, saw some increase in foreign demand over September both from developed markets and emerging economies.

Employment and input prices rose at their fastest pace in two years.

Lee Hopley, chief economist at EEF, the manufacturers' organisation, said: "This is another solid month for manufacturing with output, orders and employment all up, paving the way for a decent quarter of growth across the sector. The good run of indicators should continue beyond the end of this year with some expansion in manufacturing taking place in Europe, Asia and the US.

The economic thinktank, the CEBR, said: "This was the fifth consecutive month during which employment has risen in the manufacturing sector. The staffing-level recovery was broad-based, as payrolls increased across all manufacturing industries, besides timber and paper.

"Overall, rising employment in the manufacturing sector has the potential to decrease the UK unemployment rate – which still stood at an elevated 7.7% over April-June 2013 – or at least mitigate the effect of public sector payroll reductions," it said.

However, Hopley said the sector faced headwinds that could restrict its expansion in the coming months.

She said: "Ramping up production to meet growing demand given the persistent weakness in investment is one. A second concern is inevitably that the positive outlook globally will be sustained."

Analysts said an appreciation in the pound in recent months, making exports more expensive, was also likely to be a cause of the slowdown in export sales.

Alan Clarke, UK economist at Scotia Bank, said: "The latest Markit survey could be a blip in an otherwise upward sloping trend because recoveries are seldom a straight-line affair.

"Alternatively, this could be the first sign that the near 5% appreciation in the effective sterling exchange rate is starting to be a dampener on the export facing part of the recovery."

An improving picture across the continent could also act to bolster demand for British exports.

The Markit purchasing managers' index for the eurozone showed expansion at 51.1 in September. Though down on August's 26-month high of 51.4, the survey points to continuing expansion after a long period of recession.

Unemployment across the 17 eurozone countries also indicated some stabilising

Eurostat, the EU's statistics office, said the unemployment rate was 12% in August, unchanged from the previous month and down modestly from the 12.1% peak recorded in the summer. In total, the number of unemployed people dipped by 5,000 to 19.18 million.

Few economists think the eurozone's current economic growth is enough to significantly bring down unemployment, particularly among the young. The manufacturing PMI survey, for example, showed companies in the sector still expect modest job losses.

"Unemployment looks set to fall only very gradually at best," said Ben May, European economist at Capital Economics.

The Eurostat figures mask huge divergences across the eurozone. While Germany has an unemployment rate of 5.2%, Greece and Spain have over a quarter of their workforce out of a job.

The situation among the young is even more acute. Greece and Spain, for example, have over half their under-25s unemployed. In Greece, where the latest figures available were for June, youth unemployment stood at 61.5%.

Manufacturing sectorEconomic growth (GDP)EconomicsEurozone crisisEuropean UnionFinancial crisisEuroEuropePhillip © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds


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