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

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Sexual Peculiarities of the Ancient Greeks

In Ancient Greece we can find anything from sex festivals–to sex toys. Aristotle pondered why people are ashamed to admit that they like having sex, while they aren’t embarrassed of saying that they like to drink or eat. People who worked as doctors in Ancient Greece suggested sex as a way to combat diseases such […]


Greek Far-Left Group Claims Golden Dawn Killings

A previously unknown Greek far-left group claimed responsibility Nov. 16 for the killings of two neo-Nazi Golden Dawn members, saying it was in retaliation for an anti-fascist rapper’s murder. “We, the People’s Struggling Revolutionary Powers, claim responsibility for the political executions of the fascist members of neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn,” the group said in a […]


Police Arrest Two Men for Tragedy in Lefkada

Police arrested two men in Lefkada who are accused of taking part in the human trafficking of 27 illegal migrants to the region of Palairo in Aetolia-Acarnania, where 12 people lost their lives. Police also seek another three men. During the ongoing investigations in Aetolia-Acarnania, police arrested a 30-year-old man, a resident of Konopina, who […]


Troubled Troika Talks Pushed Back

Greek Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras‘ planned resumption of negotiations with the country’s international lenders, set for Sunday morning, Nov. 17 – the anniversary commemorating the beginning of the end for the ruling military junta in 1974 – have been rescheduled for a day later although no reason was given. The contentious talks center around a […]


Southern Aegean Earned More From Tourism in 2013

On Wednesday the results from a survey conducted by the Hellenic Chamber of Hotels and the TNS ICAP and Quantros showed that the Southern Aegean, during the summer of 2013 had the biggest number of vacationer overnight stays, and also the biggest tourism revenues of 2013. On the other hand, Central Macedonia simultaneously recorded the […]


Greece's Golden Dawn gains support after members killed-poll

Support for Greece's far-right Golden Dawn party has grown since two members were gunned down by unknown assailants this month, an opinion poll released on Saturday showed. The party, Greece's third most popular, had shed almost a third of support following the fatal stabbing in September of an anti-fascism rapper blamed on a Golden Dawn sympathizer. In a suspected retaliatory attack, two Golden ...


Do the maths: the science behind the numbers that govern our lives

Eat five portions of fruit and veg, drink eight glasses of water, exercise five times a week… these figures grab our attention, but do the numbers really add up?

In the mid-60s, the psychiatrist Charles Hofling wanted to know more about the way nurses and doctors interact with one another, so he devised an experiment, in a real hospital. While on duty, the nurses would receive a telephone call from a doctor, who ordered them to give a 20mg dose of medicine to a patient. The doctor said he'd sign the paperwork when he got in. Despite clear instructions on the bottle of medicine that explained a 20mg dose could be fatal, 21 out of 22 nurses were prepared to give the drug. And none of them had met the doctor who made the call.

Hofling's paper became a textbook classic. People were shocked by the nurses' readiness to trust the authority of the doctor, but other, similar experiments have shown that most of us are all too ready to accept what we're told, particularly if there's a suggestion that the advice came from an expert.

Think about your average day as a series of choices. You'll get up, you'll choose what to eat, whether to go for a run, whether or not to indulge in a glass of wine or a second helping of dessert. You're constantly making decisions based on what you want versus what you think is good for you. And how do you know what's good for you? Because somebody told you so.

On average, we are given 123 different pieces of advice every week, from sensible government guidelines to scare stories about what gives us cancer. Actually, that's not strictly true: I found that statistic on the internet, but it rather proves the point that you can assign a number to just about anything. Numbers work because they get our attention, but they're also fairly easy to manipulate. Here's the latest thinking about the science behind the numbers that govern our lives.

5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day

"It's a lot more useful than 'eat a varied diet'," says Mike Rayner, director of the Nuffield Department of Population Health, "because how do we know what that really means? Health messages tend to work if they capture the public's imagination. There's a mixture of art and science in setting them at the right level, between what's ideal and what's pragmatic."

And so it was with the five-a-day campaign, which began in 1994. "We adopted a five-a-day message because the Americans had a similar scheme, and the World Health Organisation's recommendation was 400g a day, which was about 50% more than the average person in the UK was eating," Rayner says. But in the countries where the WHO had found the lowest levels of heart disease and cancers linked to diet, the average person was eating far more fruit and veg – around 10 portions a day – and other countries recommend greater amounts: in Denmark, it's 600g; in Greece, it's six portions of vegetables and three of fruit. So although five will do you good, more might be better. It's estimated that most people in the UK still average only three portions. "Based on this rate of increase," Rayner says, "it will take decades before we're hitting the target."

However, there has been a huge growth in another area, thanks to the five-a-day message: the processed food industry. According to the campaign group Sustain, we spend around £54bn on food a year, and £12bn of that is on food we believe to be healthy. "People trust food labels, opting for those that carry some form of 'health halo'," Sustain says, and there's little regulation around what can technically be allowed as a one-of-your-five-a-day claim. If you eat more portions of processed fruit and veg, you're also likely to be eating a lot more salt, sugar and saturated fat.

35 is the upper limit for women having children

"Have your babies before this clock strikes 12," Professor Mary Herbert, a specialist in reproductive biology, told an audience at the British Science Festival this year. "I would be getting worried about my daughter if she hadn't had a child by 35."

Herbert's Cinderella analogy may raise a few eyebrows, but she's certainly not the only expert keen to tell women who want to be mothers to get on with it. "I read one paper that referred to eggs as 'best used by 35'," says the economist Emily Oster. "Thanks; it's really helpful to know my sell-by date."

Oster became interested in the so-called fertility cliff when researching her book Expecting Better, which tackles the data behind some of the most common (and controversial) pregnancy advice. She found that the main research on fertility rates comes from data collected in the 19th century, based on the age of women at the time of their marriage. The theory being that "couples would pretty much get down to business right after the wedding… Researchers found the chance of having any children was very similar for women who got married at any age between 20 and 35. Then it began to decline: women who got married between 35 and 39 were about 90% as likely to have a child. Women who got married between 40 and 44 were only about 62% as likely."

So, yes, there is a decline, but only a 10% difference between the first two age groups, a century before IVF. Perhaps that clock isn't going to chime 12 quite as soon as you think.

8 glasses of water a day

The claim that we should drink eight glasses of water a day is widely attributed to a report from 1945, from the American National Academy of Sciences' Food and Nutrition board, which estimated we needed one millilitre of water for every calorie of food.

"What it meant was that daily fluid turnover is 2.5 litres, which is the equivalent of eight glasses of water," sports scientist Timothy Noakes says. "But the fluid does not need to be water. About 750ml comes from food eaten each day."

The eight glasses idea might seem fairly harmless, but it has fed into the belief that we should all be drinking more water, that it is healthy to be proactive about "staying ahead of our thirst". It's an idea that is now widely promoted in sport, but as Noakes details in his book Waterlogged: The Serious Problem Of Overhydration In Endurance Sports, even athletes weren't really encouraged to take on more fluids while training until the late 70s. It was then that sports drinks first appeared and more funding was given to research that promoted the "science of hydration". There have been no reported deaths from dehydration in sport, but there have been several deaths caused by hyponatremia, or water intoxication. These cases are rare, but they indicate how confused we've become about what our bodies need. If you're thirsty, have a drink. If not, you're probably fine.

2,000 calories a day for women, 2,500 for men

In the documentary Super Size Me, Morgan Spurlock's camera crew ask people on the street to define "calorie". Most can't. As Marion Nestle and Malden Nesheim recount in their book Why Calories Count: From Science To Politics, Spurlock's crew "could not find even one person who could come up with a reasonable definition".

There are actually five different measurements for calories as a unit of energy. The guideline we most commonly think of – 2,000, or 2,500 a day – is in calories with a small c. Around two-thirds of the total calories you need are defined by your basal metabolic rate (BMR) – the amount of energy you expend just existing: that's breathing, brain function, blood circulation. On top of that, anything you do, including shivering or fidgeting, let alone walking or running, will increase the number of calories you need.

Your BMR is affected by your weight and height (different formulae will give different totals) and the amount of activity each of us does each day will vary greatly. So do the average calorie guidelines really apply to any of us? "It's hard to arrive at anything approaching the correct number without doing expensive tests involving non-radioactive isotopes," admits Nestle. So, would we be better off using one of those online calculators that gives us an individual number? "Good grief, no," she says. "If you are going to buy anything, get a scale that works. And use it. By adulthood, people know whether or not they have a weight-gain problem. If they do, they need to eat less. This isn't rocket science. It's just figuring out how to balance food intake against calorie needs, and a scale tells you everything you need to know."

So why do we bother having recommended averages at all? Because, Nestle says, most of us dramatically underestimate how many calories there are in food and, therefore, what a portion size should look like. "If I had one thing to teach the world, it would be that larger portions have more calories," she says. "I wish this were as intuitive as it sounds, but it's not."

14 units of alcohol a week for women, 21 for men

Most of us who are old enough to drink probably still think of the 14/21 units per week rule, but the official recommendations are now subtly different. Men should not exceed three to four units per day; for women, it's two to three. The adjustment, says Dr Sarah Jarvis of Drinkaware, was to shift people's perception that they could somehow save up all their units for a big drinking session at the end of the week.

Jarvis believes the official recommendations are still the best advice, if you can stick to them. "The problem is, people fundamentally misunderstand the difference between short-term tolerance and long-term harm. If you drink every day, you might not feel that six units makes you particularly drunk, but that doesn't mean you're less susceptible to damage in the long-term."

Even though we know that a drink no longer amounts to a single unit, Jarvis says we still tend to underestimate the amount we're drinking, particularly at home. "A unit of wine is 110ml, which looks teeny. No one pours that," she says. "It's more likely that if you have a couple of large glasses of wine at home, you'll be having somewhere in the region of six units, which is classified in the league of binge-drinking. That's the level at which we see an increase in physical symptoms such as raised blood pressure, as well as violent behaviour."

8 hours' sleep a night

For every person who will tell you that Margaret Thatcher got by on four hours a night, a study will show that the average person needs between seven and nine hours of sleep to function well. If you regularly average less than seven hours, then you have an increased risk of depression, diabetes and heart problems. But sleeping for more than nine hours a night has also been associated with an increase in the likelihood of physical and mental-health issues.

Myths about our sleep abound. Is every hour of sleep before midnight worth more than the hours after? There's little evidence to support this, although one study showed that people performed better when they'd had more sleep after midnight, contradicting the myth. Do you need to get your sleep in one block? Again, this may not be true. Some historians believe that "segmented sleep" used to be the norm. Roger Ekirch made a study of sleep throughout the ages in his book At Day's Close, and found many references in different languages to a "first" and "second" sleep. People would get up between the sleeps, and use the time to pray, reflect on their dreams, have sex or even visit neighbours. Dr Thomas Wehr of the US Institute of Mental Health asked patients to spend a month living without artificial light. By the end of his experiment, the patients had all fallen into a pattern of sleeping for three or four hours, waking for an hour or so then sleeping for another four hours or so, and they reported never having felt so rested. What is almost certainly important, though, is going through the different stages of the sleep cycle, from light, to "slow wave", to REM (the average person goes through about four or five sleep cycles of 90-120 minutes a night). If your sleep is constantly interrupted, your body may not be reaching the right state of sleep it needs in order to repair itself.

30 minutes' exercise, 5 times a week

Despite our 2012 Olympic summer, a report from Sport England found that the number of adults playing traditionally popular sports such as football, rugby and squash has fallen in the past year.

You've probably heard that the recommended amount of exercise is half an hour's moderate aerobic activity at least five times a week. The official guideline from the Department of Health is at least 150 minutes a week, so it suggests you break it up into five half-hour sessions. But, within that, there are other suggestions. On two days or more a week, your physical activity should include strengthening exercises that work all the major muscle groups. Oh, and instead of 150 minutes of moderate exercise, you could do 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity, "such as running or a game of singles tennis" (plus your muscle strengthening). Or, if you like, you can do a mix of the two. Not exactly catchy, is it?

"Sometimes messages are refined for the sake of making them more accurate, but it means people can't always remember what they are," Nuffield's Mike Rayner says. "These things only need to be changed lightly and only when they are overwhelmingly out of date."

Even if you're meeting the recommended quota, it will only count for so much if you then drive to work and sit at a computer for nine hours. A review by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition conceded that the average of 30 minutes daily "may be insufficient to prevent unhealthful weight gain for some, perhaps many, but probably not all, persons".

2 hours a day screen time for children

Given the amount of panic there is about children watching TV, playing computer games or going online, there is surprisingly little research into the long-term effects of screen time. That's not to say studies don't exist, but they are scattered and the quality of the sample sizes and data gathered varies. This is also an area where the research we do have is likely to be sensationalised (such as the claim, in 2009, by Dr Aric Sigman that the isolation caused by social networking sites could give you cancer).

It's widely accepted that being sedentary for too long contributes to physical health problems – although no one worries whether children are reading for more than two hours a day – so the more difficult question to answer is: should we limit screen time to protect our children's emotional health?

In August this year, Public Health England, a government body, published a briefing that analysed a number of existing datasets on children's wellbeing. It included research from the Millennium Cohort Study, which collected reports from the mothers of 11,000 children in the UK at age five, and then again at seven, making it one of the largest data samples available. That study found that watching TV for three hours or more at age five predicted a 0.13 point increase in behaviour problems at seven, but there was no link between playing computer games and behaviour problems, and "no associations were found between either type of screen time and emotional symptoms, hyperactivity/inattention, peer relationship problems or prosocial behaviour".

So, instead of worrying that our children's attention spans are shrinking, should we marvel at the way the new generation of digital natives effortlessly parse information on their phones and start online uprisings that change the world? It's probably too early to tell.

"The field is so new, it is rash to draw conclusions, either apocalyptic or utopian, about how the internet is changing our brains," says Clive Thompson, author of the recently published Smarter Than You Think. Rather than hunt for a definitive answer, we have to use our own judgment about what's best for our children – and for ourselves.

Health & wellbeingAlcoholChildrenSleepFitnessFertility problemsHealthFood © 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


'Greek cinema goers prefer Hollywood over European, Indian films'

Kolkata, Nov 16 (IANS) Lamenting the Greek film industry taking a severe beating due to the ongoing financial crisis, actress Katia O' Wallis Saturday said here that cinema goers in the Mediterranean nation prefer big Hollywood productions over European and Indian cinema.


Missing 24-year-old Serres man found safe and sound

A 24-year-old man who had been reported missing last Monday in Serres, northern Greece, was located by search patrols in the forest of the Aghioi Anargyroi valley on Friday. According to reports, the man had been wandering alone in the area for days, but ... ...


Livestock farmers decide protest action

Greek livestock farmers have decided to launch protest action following a meeting with Agricultural Development Minister Athanasios Tsaftaris on Friday. According to the president of the Greek livestock farmers association, Dimitris Kabouris, the meeting ... ...


Santos warns players job against Romania not done yet

Greece coach Fernando Santos has warned his players that they have only done half the job after the national side beat Romania 3-1 in Athens on Friday night, in order to give it a great chance of qualifying for next year’s World Cup in Brazil when it play... ...


Cyprus solution best way to remember Clerides, says Venizelos

A just solution to the Cyprus problem would be the best way of remembering late Cypriot President Glafcos Clerides, according to Greek Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos. Clerides, who worked to resolve the island’s division for many years without succe... ...


Two arrested, three sought over migrant drownings

Two people were arrested on Saturday in connection to the drowning of 12 Syrian irregular migrants off the coast of Lefkada as the immigrants’ movements in the lead-up to one of the worst such disasters in Greek seas became clearer. Police said they had a... ...


Troika Presses Greece To Cut Defense Industries

ATHENS - Faced with a looming budget gap that could be five times more than what Greece has estimated, international lenders are pressing the government to close two defense industries or significantly reduce their workforce and costs. The government is eager to save its Hellenic Defence Systems (EAS) ? weapons and ammunition producer ? and the Hellenic Vehicle Industry (ELVO) and has offered a plan to reduce their costs. But the Troika rejected the plan that aimed to overhaul EAS, citing the industry?s weak presence in international markets, and insisted the government reduce its workforce from 900 to 341. The Troika said it is not possible to save the two industries, describing them as a drain on government coffers with a reputation of inefficiency.


Aussies Join Fight to Return Parthenon Marbles

SYDNEY - An international conference in Sydney this weekend is continuing the fight to have the ancient Elgin Marbles returned to Greece. The collection of ancient Greek marble statues, also known as the Parthenon Marbles, were removed from Athens and taken to London in the early 19th Century. The Australian Committee for the Restitution of the Parthenon Marbles (ACRPM) is hosting this weekend's forum. The debate over the priceless relics housed in the British Museum has been raging for years. Dennis Tritaris from ACRPM says the two-day conference is all about putting more pressure on the British Museum to return the statues to Greece. 'What we try to do is keep the pressure, keep the awareness of the people on the issue of the restitution of the Parthenon Marbles,' he said.


China Strikes Friendship With Milos

MILOS, Greece (Xinhua) -- Greece and China celebrated the close and deepening ties of friendship and cooperation which link the two countries and peoples during a two-day meeting hosted on the Aegean Sea island of Milos last week. The event entitled China and Greece, Ties of Friendship and Cooperation which was co-organized by the Municipality of Milos and the Chinese Embassy in Athens showcased the elements which unite the two countries and paved the way for the enhancement of bilateral collaboration in particular in the tourism industry. The tourism and mining industries are today the two pillars of the economy of Milos, an island of a 5,000 populace, which has become famous worldwide for the discovery of the statue of Aphrodite (Venus) - the Goddess of Beauty in ancient Greek mythology - currently hosted in the Louvre museum.


Greek Importers Regain Foreign Trust

Greek ReporterGreek Importers Regain Foreign TrustGreek ReporterDuring the last years, the outbreak of the financial crisis in Greece and the risk of default, caused foreign suppliers as well as multinational companies to lose trust in their Greek partners. Greek importers were reporting that the situation has ...


Greece are not in the World Cup yet, warns manager after Romania win

Beyond that, we will prepare properly for the next game." In the other World Cup play-offs on Friday, France were beaten 2-0 in Ukraine, Iceland held Croatia to a home 0-0 draw, and Portugal left it late to beat Sweden 1-0 at Estadio da Luz.


Greece get one foot in Brazil after World Cup win over Romania

Sydney Morning HeraldGreece get one foot in Brazil after World Cup win over RomaniaThe GuardianGreece took a big step toward qualifying for Brazil as Kostas Mitroglou scored twice in a 3-1 play-off first-leg win over Romania, a game that saw three goals scored in six first-half minutes. Dimitris Salpingidis picked out Mitroglou, who leapt to get ...Greece eye World Cup qualification after 3-1 over RomaniaSydney Morning HeraldGreece beats Romania 3-1 in World Cup playoffSan Francisco ChronicleGreece vs. Romania: Final score 3-1, Mitroglou puts Greeks in controlSB NationKathimerini -Reutersall 101 news articles »


Greece takes 3-1 World Cup qualifying playoff edge over Romania

PIRAEUS, Greece (AP) - Greece took a big step toward Brazil as in-form striker Kostas Mitroglou netted twice in a 3-1 win over Romania on Friday in the first leg of their World Cup playoffs, in a game that saw three goals scored in six first ...


The rise of the far right is overplayed – but austerity increases the threat

If the Wilders-Le Pen alliance succeeds in the European elections, it will partly be thanks to the harsh economic policies of political elites

The Dutch far-right politician Geert Wilders has announced plans for a pan-European alliance with Marine Le Pen's Front National party in France ahead of the 2014 European elections. The alliance, which would include others from Italy, Sweden, and Belgium, would seek to disrupt the workings of the European parliament and destroy the EU from within its own institutions.

The development reflects a long-held desire by the far right in Europe to build its own brand of "Europeanism", a pan-European movement that is hostile to the integrationist aims of the EU. With Europe struggling economically and politically, the timing is significant and perhaps propitious for such a far-right alliance.

But is "fascism" back? The neo-fascist Golden Dawn party looks troubling in Greece, Norway went surprisingly rightward in its national elections, the Austrian Freedom party has also gained votes while in Britain, leaders of the English Defence League decided to embrace a more "mainstream" platform against Islam.

The apparent gains of populist and far-right movements have of course attracted the attention of journalists, experts and academics. And when this happens, there is a tendency towards sensationalist headlines which may give an exaggerated impression of the strength and power of far-right parties.

It is true that far-right movements have done relatively well electorally since the mid-1980s. Their gains are linked to multi-ethnic societies, European integration, rampant capitalism, globalisation the fall of communism, and more recently, by religious fundamentalism, economic upheaval and austerity. In such an economic, political and social context the existence of parties promoting the defence of national communities and citizens, rejecting almost all foreign interference in domestic life while electorally exploiting unemployment and financial instability, is almost guaranteed.

However, the far right is not on the rise everywhere, and with the same intensity. Specific national conditions, electoral systems and the role of the mainstream right need to be kept in mind. Yet while the idea of a fascist takeover may be fanciful, we should not totally downplay the risks.

Extremism should, for example, be closely monitored in Greece and in parts of central and eastern Europe. The far right is, in some ways, at the centre of Europe's life. Wilders and Le Pen establishing a new alliance in the European parliamentpresents an additional burden on the EU. Even fringe parties are already having an influence on attitudes and policy towards immigration, multiculturalism, citizenship, the public sector and the role of the state. The influence on other areas of public life, including football stadiums, is well known. In some countries, this has led to a legitimisation of an extremist discourse.

It seems that there is also a rather benevolent approach from some mainstream parties in Europe towards these developments, and a deafening silence from the entrepreneurial and financial world.

If the Wilders-Le Pen anti-EU alliance secures electoral success in 2014, it will partly be the result of how existing political elites are reacting, the continued drive to austerity and the perceived lack of democratic legitimacy that surrounds these harsh economic policies. We should be exploring the impact of all this on European societies and communities, and what can be done to use education to achieve a better, mutual understanding of different cultures. The European Union is, after all, not just about budgetary policies, trade and the free circulation of goods. It should be a beacon of enlightened values and tolerance.

The far rightEuropean electionsEuropean UnionEuropeGeert WildersMarine Le PenGolden Dawn partyGreeceAndrea © 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


Greece vs. Romania: Changes Both Teams Should Make for Playoff Second Leg

Greece will take a comfortable lead to Bucharest after triumphing 3-1 over Romania in the first leg of their World Cup playoff. Konstantinos Mitroglou bagged a goal either side of Dimitris Salpingidis’ strike at the Stadios Georgios Karaiskaki ...


Gabriel Torje and Giorgos Samaras: Battling for the ball

Gabriel Torje and Giorgos Samaras: Battling for the ballSkySportsRomania, who finished second to Holland in Group D, must now overturn the deficit in Bucharest in Tuesday if they are to reach Brazil, while Greece need only resist the backlash to book their third appearance at the summer finals. It was a tense start ...


Tension in Greek Parliament for PDO Products

The decision which allows Canada the use of the name of Greek products with protected designation of origin (PDO), like feta cheese and Kalamata olives, caused reactions even among the MPs of the New Democracy political party.  Athanasios Tsaftaris suggested that the Greek Vice Minister for Development and Competitiveness, Notis Mitarakis, is responsible for this […]


40th Anniversary of the Heroic Uprising

Forty years have passed since the uprising that took place on the 17th of November 1973 in the Polytechnic School of Athens, Greece. It was a soul-stirring act of resistance against the tyranny of the Military Junta. It was an act of heroism that should teach and inspire next generations. Especially now that the students’ […]


Renzo Piano, Incognito in Athens

The guru of architecture Renzo Piano, visited Athens in absolute secrecy. He was accompanied by a team of collaborators in Greece and abroad, and also by talented Greek students who designed the Visitor Center in the Cultural Center of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, which is now being built in Faliro. In the largest culture construction […]


Costa Navarino Wins Three Awards

Costa Navarino, situated in Messinia, southwest Peleponese, is one of the most luxurious hotels in Greece. A few days ago the hotel won three awards: one in the category of Worldwide Hospitality Awards, and two in the category of European Health and Spa Awards. The art project “Costa Navarino: Engaging Art” won “Best Innovation: Public […]


Troika Wants Greek Defense Industry Sliced

Faced with a looming budget gap that could be five times more than what Greece has estimated, international lenders are pressing the government to close two defense industries or significantly reduce their workforce and costs. The government is eager to save its Hellenic Defence Systems (EAS) — weapons and ammunition producer — and the Hellenic […]


Indomitable: The First Greek Epic Movie

After its first screening at the Athens International Film Festival this September, the first Greek epic movie, “Indomitable: Dragonphoenix Chronicles,” premiered on the 14th of November 2013. The movie is based on a series of monthly comic books with the same name, written by Giannis Roumpoulias, the first issue of which was published in 2005. […]


Greece halfway to Brazil after Romania win

"We are halfway there," said coach Fernando Santos after Greece's 3-1 play-off win against Romania, but a "sad and angry" Ciprian Marica is not abandoning hope just yet.


Slick Greece dispatches Romania

Slick Greece dispatches RomaniaSBSGreece will take a two-goal lead to Romania for the second leg of their FIFA World Cup qualifying play-off after Konstantinos Mitroglou's brace decided a 3-1 victory in Piraeus. FIFA World Cup qualifiers LIVE on SBS · Ten-man Iceland and Croatia stalemate.


Log in using your Facebook, Windows Live, Google or Yahoo! account

Log in using your Facebook, Windows Live, Google or Yahoo! accountUEFA.comRomania promptly responded through Bogdan Stancu – the first goal Greece have conceded since 22 March – though they were level for only two minutes before Dimitris Salpingidis re-established the hosts' lead. Mitroglou's second after the interval and a ...and more »


Greece beat Romania 3-1 in WC qualifying play-off

Athens, Nov 16 (IANS) Greece beat Romania 3-1 Friday night in a decisive 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifying play-off match held at Karaiskaki stadium in Athens. Greek striker Kostas Mitroglou scored the first goal on the 14th minute. Romanian Bogdan Stancu ...


Greek Movie Fridays: “Straight Story” – Society Turns Upside Down!

Greek Reporter and Odeon S.A. through, present the best Greek movies of recent years! This Friday we suggest you to watch the hilarious and subversive Greek comedy “Straight Story.” “Straight Story” is a very successful ...


Mitroglou strikes on the double to put Greece in command against Romania

Mitroglou strikes on the double to put Greece in command against RomaniaIrish TimesOlympiakos striker's brace puts Greeks within touching distance of Brazil. Greece's Kostas Mitroglou (centre), Dimitris Siovas (left) and Alexandros Tziolis celebrate a goal against Romania at Karaiskaki stadium in Piraeus, near Athens. Photograph ...


Council of State rejects appeal by November 17 member against his dismissal as school teacher

The Council of State on Friday rejected an appeal by a convicted member of the November 17 terrorist group against his dismissal as a primary school teacher. Constantinos Telios, currently serving a 22-year sentence for being party of Greece’s most notori... ...


Laura Boldrini: A new recipe to improve Europe

Laura Boldrini is an Italian politician and current president of the country’s Chamber of Deputies. She belongs to Italy’s Left Ecology Freedom party, founded in 2009. Her recent trip to Greece earlier this month was her first visit to a foreign country i... ...


Worldwide child porn ring suspects include 11 Greeks

Eleven Greeks are among the 348 suspects arrested in an international Canadian-led operation to smash a pedophile ring, it emerged on Friday. The Athens-Macedonian News Agency said that six of the suspects are from Athens, four from Thessaloniki in northe... ...


Merkel extends new invitation to Samaras for talks

For the second time in 15 months, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras is to hold talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin, with the aim of lifting some of the gloom that has descended over Greece and its prospects. Merkel’s spokesman, Steffen Seibe... ...


Mantzaris spares Reds' blushes against Zielona Gora

A buzzer-beating three-pointer by Vangelis Mantzaris offered a complacent Olympiakos a 79-77 victory over surprisingly strong Zielona Gora in Piraeus to preserve the Reds’ unbeaten Euroleague record on Friday. The Polish team arrived in Greece with just o... ...


Nestle to create hundreds of jobs for young people

Nestle will create 500 employment opportunities for people under 30 years of age in Greece, half of which will be full-time jobs and the other half training and paid practical experience. This forms part of its pan-European initiative to create 20,000 job... ...


Greece puts troika of goals past Romania

Greece is 90 minutes away from reaching its third World Cup finals after beating Romania 3-1 at home for the qualifying play-offs on Friday ahead of the return leg in Bucharest four days later. The best game in the campaign for the Blue-and-whites came wh... ...


Greece put three past woeful Romania AUGreece put three past woeful AUGreece took a huge step towards qualifying for next summer's World Cup after beating Romania 3-1 in the first leg play-off. Kostas Mitroglou (2) and Dimitris Salpigidis grabbed the goals for the Greeks while Bogdan Stancu was on the scoresheet for the ...


Former Cypriot leader Glafcos Clerides dies at age 94

NICOSIA, Cyprus, Nov. 15 (UPI) -- Glafcos Clerides, whose political life in Cyprus was spent attempting to unify his island country's ethnic Greek and Turkish population, has died at age 94.


Everything's gone Greek in Anderson

This year's Anderson Greek Festival opened Friday night at the Civic Center of Anderson to brisk business


Pressure on Greece over 2014 budget deficit as Spain signals bailout exit

The HinduPressure on Greece over 2014 budget deficit as Spain signals bailout exitIrish IndependentEUROGROUP chairman Jeroen Dijsselbloem threw down the gauntlet to Greece yesterday, declaring it needed to do more to plug a €2bn shortfall in its budget for next year as Spain declared it would be exiting its bailout.Greece must step up efforts, Spain to exit bank aid programmeCyprus Mailall 182 news articles »


Nadezhda Tolokonnikova of Pussy Riot's prison letters to Slavoj Žižek

Pussy Riot's Nadezhda Tolokonnikova is currently in a prison hospital in Siberia; here she and Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek meet in an extraordinary exchange of letters

2 January 2013

Dear Nadezhda,

I hope you have been able to organise your life in prison around small rituals that make it tolerable, and that you have time to read. Here are my thoughts on your predicament.

John Jay Chapman, an American political essayist, wrote this about radicals in 1900: "They are really always saying the same thing. They don't change; everybody else changes. They are accused of the most incompatible crimes, of egoism and a mania for power, indifference to the fate of their cause, fanaticism, triviality, lack of humour, buffoonery and irreverence. But they sound a certain note. Hence the great practical power of persistent radicals. To all appearance, nobody follows them, yet everyone believes them. They hold a tuning-fork and sound A, and everybody knows it really is A, though the time-honoured pitch is G flat." Isn't this a good description of the effect of Pussy Riot performances? In spite of all accusations, you sound a certain note. It may appear that people do not follow you, but secretly, they believe you, they know you are telling the truth, or, even more, you are standing for truth.

But what is this truth? Why are the reactions to Pussy Riot performances so violent, not only in Russia? All hearts were beating for you as long as you were perceived as just another version of the liberal-democratic protest against the authoritarian state. The moment it became clear that you rejected global capitalism, reporting on Pussy Riot became much more ambiguous. What is so disturbing about Pussy Riot to the liberal gaze is that you make visible the hidden continuity between Stalinism and contemporary global capitalism.

[Žižek then explores what he sees as a global trend towards limiting democracy.] Since the 2008 crisis, this distrust of democracy, once limited to third-world or post-Communist developing economies, is gaining ground in western countries. But what if this distrust is justified? What if only experts can save us?

But the crisis provided proof that it is these experts who don't know what they are doing, rather than the people. In western Europe, we are seeing that the ruling elite know less and less how to rule. Look at how Europe is dealing with Greece.

No wonder, then, that Pussy Riot make us all uneasy – you know very well what you don't know, and you don't pretend to have any quick or easy answers, but you are telling us that those in power don't know either. Your message is that in Europe today the blind are leading the blind. This is why it is so important that you persist. In the same way that Hegel, after seeing Napoleon riding through Jena, wrote that it was as if he saw the World Spirit riding on a horse, you are nothing less than the critical awareness of us all, sitting in prison.

Comradely greetings, Slavoj

23 February 2013

Dear Slavoj,

Once, in the autumn of 2012, when I was still in the pre-trial prison in Moscow with other Pussy Riot activists, I visited you. In a dream, of course.

I see your argument about horses, the World Spirit, and about tomfoolery and disrespect, as well as why and how all these elements are so connected to each other.

Pussy Riot did turn out be a part of this force, the purpose of which is criticism, creativity and co-creation, experimentation and constantly provocative events. Borrowing Nietzsche's definition, we are the children of Dionysus, sailing in a barrel and not recognising any authority.

We are a part of this force that has no final answers or absolute truths, for our mission is to question. There are architects of apollonian statics and there are (punk) singers of dynamics and transformation. One is not better than the other. But it is only together that we can ensure the world functions in the way Heraclitus defined it: "This world has been and will eternally be living on the rhythm of fire, inflaming according to the measure, and dying away according to the measure. This is the functioning of the eternal world breath."

We are the rebels asking for the storm, and believing that truth is only to be found in an endless search. If the "World Spirit" touches you, do not expect that it will be painless.

Laurie Anderson sang: "Only an expert can deal with the problem." It would have been nice if Laurie and I could cut these experts down to size and take care of our own problems. Because expert status by no means grants access to the kingdom of absolute truth.

Two years of prison for Pussy Riot is our tribute to a destiny that gave us sharp ears, allowing us to sound the note A when everyone else is used to hearing G flat.

At the right moment, there will always come a miracle in the lives of those who childishly believe in the triumph of truth over lies, of mutual assistance, of those who live according to the economics of the gift.


4 April 2013

Dear Nadezhda,

I was so pleasantly surprised when your letter arrived – the delay made me fear that the authorities would prevent our communication. I was deeply honoured, flattered even, by my appearance in your dream.

You are right to question the idea that the "experts" close to power are competent to make decisions. Experts are, by definition, servants of those in power: they don't really think, they just apply their knowledge to the problems defined by those in power (how to bring back stability? how to squash protests?). So are today's capitalists, the so-called financial wizards, really experts? Are they not just stupid babies playing with our money and our fate? I remember a cruel joke from Ernst Lubitsch's To Be Or Not to Be. When asked about the German concentration camps in occupied Poland, the Nazi officer snaps back: "We do the concentrating, and the Poles do the camping." Does the same not hold for the Enron bankruptcy in 2002? The thousands of employees who lost their jobs were certainly exposed to risk, but with no true choice – for them the risk was like blind fate. But those who did have insight into the risks, and the ability to intervene (the top managers), minimised their risks by cashing in their stocks before the bankruptcy. So it is true that we live in a society of risky choices, but some people (the managers) do the choosing, while others (the common people) do the risking.

For me, the true task of radical emancipatory movements is not just to shake things out of their complacent inertia, but to change the very co-ordinates of social reality so that, when things return to normal, there will be a new, more satisfying, "apollonian statics". And, even more crucially, how does today's global capitalism enter this scheme?

The Deleuzian philosopher Brian Massumi tells how capitalism has already overcome the logic of totalising normality and adopted the logic of erratic excess: "The more varied, and even erratic, the better. Normality starts to lose its hold. The regularities start to loosen. This loosening is part of capitalism's dynamic."

But I feel guilty writing this: who am I to explode in such narcissistic theoretical outbursts when you are exposed to very real deprivations? So please, if you can and want, do let me know about your situation in prison: about your daily rhythm, about the little private rituals that make it easier to survive, about how much time you have to read and write, about how other prisoners and guards treat you, about your contact with your child … true heroism resides in these seemingly small ways of organising one's life in order to survive in crazy times without losing dignity.

With love, respect and admiration, my thoughts are with you!


16 April 2013

Dear Slavoj,

Has modern capitalism really overtaken the logic of totalising norms? Or is it willing to make us believe that it has overpassed the logic of hierarchical structures and normalisation?

As a child I wanted to go into advertising. I had a love affair with the advertising industry. And this is why I am in a position to judge its merits. The anti-hierarchical structures and rhizomes of late capitalism are its successful ad campaign. Modern capitalism has to manifest itself as flexible and even eccentric. Everything is geared towards gripping the emotion of the consumer. Modern capitalism seeks to assure us that it operates according to the principles of free creativity, endless development and diversity. It glosses over its other side in order to hide the reality that millions of people are enslaved by an all-powerful and fantastically stable norm of production. We want to reveal this lie.

You should not worry that you are exposing theoretical fabrications while I am supposed to suffer the "real hardship". I value the strict limits, and the challenge. I am genuinely curious: how will I cope with this? And how can I turn this into a productive experience for me and my comrades? I find sources of inspiration; it contributes to my own development. Not because of, but in spite of the system. And in my struggle, your thoughts, ideas and stories are helpful to me.

I am happy to correspond with you. I await your reply and I wish you good luck in our common cause.


10 June 2013

Dear Nadezhda,

I felt deeply ashamed after reading your reply. You wrote: "You should not worry about the fact that you are exposing theoretical fabrications while I am supposed to suffer the 'real hardship'." This simple sentence made me aware that the final sentiment in my last letter was false: my expression of sympathy with your plight basically meant, "I have the privilege of doing real theory and teaching you about it while you are good for reporting on your experience of hardship …" Your last letter demonstrates that you are much more than that, that you are an equal partner in a theoretical dialogue. So my sincere apologies for this proof of how deeply entrenched is male chauvinism, especially when it is masked as sympathy for the other's suffering, and let me go on with our dialogue.

It is the crazy dynamics of global capitalism that make effective resistance to it so difficult and frustrating. Recall the great wave of protests that spilled all over Europe in 2011, from Greece and Spain to London and Paris. Even if there was no consistent political platform mobilising the protesters, the protests functioned as part of a large-scale educational process: the protesters' misery and discontent were transformed into a great collective act of mobilisation – hundreds of thousands gathered in public squares, proclaiming that they had enough, that things could not go on like that. However, what these protests add up to is a purely negative gesture of angry rejection and an equally abstract demand for justice, lacking the ability to translate this demand into a concrete political programme.

What can be done in such a situation, where demonstrations and protests are of no use, where democratic elections are of no use? Can we convince the tired and manipulated crowds that we are not only ready to undermine the existing order, to engage in provocative acts of resistance, but also to offer the prospect of a new order?

The Pussy Riot performances cannot be reduced just to subversive provocations. Beneath the dynamics of their acts, there is the inner stability of a firm ethico-political attitude. In some deeper sense, it is today's society that is caught in a crazy capitalist dynamic with no inner sense and measure, and it is Pussy Riot that de facto provides a stable ethico-political point. The very existence of Pussy Riot tells thousands that opportunist cynicism is not the only option, that we are not totally disoriented, that there still is a common cause worth fighting for.

So I also wish you good luck in our common cause. To be faithful to our common cause means to be brave, especially now, and, as the old saying goes, luck is on the side of the brave!

Yours, Slavoj

13 July 2013

Dear Slavoj,

In my last letter, written in haste as I worked in the sewing shop, I was not as clear as I should have been about the distinction between how "global capitalism" functions in Europe and the US on the one hand, and in Russia on the other. However, recent events in Russia – the trial of Alexei Navalny, the passing of unconstitutional, anti-freedom laws – have infuriated me. I feel compelled to speak about the specific political and economic practices of my country. The last time I felt this angry was in 2011 when Putin declared he was running for the presidency for a third time. My anger and resolve led to the birth of Pussy Riot. What will happen now? Time will tell.

Here in Russia I have a strong sense of the cynicism of so-called first-world countries towards poorer nations. In my humble opinion, "developed" countries display an exaggerated loyalty towards governments that oppress their citizens and violate their rights. The European and US governments freely collaborate with Russia as it imposes laws from the middle ages and throws opposition politicians in jail. They collaborate with China, where oppression is so bad that my hair stands on end just to think about it. What are the limits of tolerance? And when does tolerance become collaboration, conformism and complicity?

To think, cynically, "let them do what they want in their own country", doesn't work any longer, because Russia and China and countries like them are now part of the global capitalist system.

Russia under Putin, with its dependence on raw materials, would have been massively weakened if those nations that import Russian oil and gas had shown the courage of their convictions and stopped buying. Even if Europe were to take as modest a step as passing a "Magnitsky law" [the Magnitsky Act in the US allows it to place sanctions on Russian officials believed to have taken part in human-rights violations], morally it would speak volumes. A boycott of the Sochi Winter Olympics in 2014 would be another ethical gesture. But the continued trade in raw materials constitutes a tacit approval of the Russian regime – not through words, but through money. It betrays the desire to protect the political and economic status quo and the division of labour that lies at the heart of the world economic system.

You quote Marx: "A social system that seizes up and rusts … cannot survive." But here I am, working out my prison sentence in a country where the 10 people who control the biggest sectors of the economy are Vladimir Putin's oldest friends. He studied or played sports with some, and served in the KGB with others. Isn't this a social system that has seized up? Isn't this a feudal system?

I thank you sincerely, Slavoj, for our correspondence and can hardly wait for your reply.

Yours, Nadia

• The correspondence was organised by Philosophie magazine in cooperation with New Times. Longer versions can be found in German at or in French at Tolokonnikova's letters were translated from Russian by Galia Ackerman

Pussy RiotRussiaProtestSlavoj ZizekPhilosophyEuropeFinancial crisisEconomicsBankingFinancial sectorPussy RiotSlavoj Žiž © 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


The rise of far right parties across Europe is a chilling echo of the 1930s

Having played down their fascist sympathies they're re-emerging now after a PR facelift. Time is running out to counter them

Since the global banking crisis in 2007, commentators across the political spectrum have confidently predicted not only the imminent collapse of the euro, but sooner or later an unavoidable implosion of the European Union itself. None of this has come to pass. But the European project, launched after the devastation of the second world war, faces the most serious threat in its history. That threat was chillingly prefigured this week by the launch of a pan-European alliance of far-right parties, led by the French National Front and the Dutch Freedom party headed by Geert Wilders, vowing to slay "the monster in Brussels".

Of course, the growth in support for far-right, anti-European, anti-immigrant parties has been fed by the worst world recession since at least the 1930s – mass unemployment and falling living standards, made worse by the self-defeating austerity obsession of European leaders. Parties that skulked in the shadows, playingdown their sympathies with fascism and Nazism are re-emerging, having given themselves a PR facelift. Marine Le Pen, leader of the French NF, plays down the antisemitic record of her party. The Dutch far-right leader has ploughed a slightly different furrow, mobilising fear and hostility not against Jews but Muslim immigrants. Like Le Pen, Wilders focuses on the alleged cosmopolitan threat to national identity from the European Union. It is a chorus echoed in other countries by the Danish People's party, the Finns party and the Flemish Vlaams Belang, among others.

For now, the French and Dutch populists are carefully keeping their distance from openly neo-Nazi parties such as Golden Dawn, whose paramilitary Sturmabteilung has terrorised refugees and immigrants in Greece, and the swaggering Hungarian Jobbik, which targets the Roma minority.

According to some pollsters, the far right might win as many as a third of European parliament seats in elections next May. That would still leave the centre parties – Christian Democrats, Social Democrats and Liberals – with many more members. But for the European parliament to form a credible majority, all of these parties might well be forced much closer together than is good for democracy.

Such a situation would be unsettlingly reminiscent of 1936, when the centre and the left – notably in France – temporarily halted the swing to fascism but formed an unprincipled and ineffective coalition. Its collapse on the eve of the second world war accelerated the advent of Phillippe Petain's Nazi-collaborating regime. History does not normally repeat itself in an automatic fashion, but it would be foolish to take the risk.

More worrying than the growth of the far right are the temporising gestures to the racists and anti-immigrants now coming from mainstream Conservative and even Liberal Democrat politicians and from some of the new "Blue Labour" ideologues. The warning from the likes of David Blunkett that hostility to Roma immigrants might lead to a popular "explosion" is reminiscent of Enoch Powell's rhetoric.

An antidote to the far right requires that the European left articulates and pursues a comprehensive alternative to economic stagnation, an ever-widening income and wealth gap and the degradation of our social standards, civil liberties and democratic rights. But that alternative has to be fought for at European as well as national and local levels, and will require more, not less, European integration.

Time is running out, not only for the European Social Democrats, but also for the wider socialist left and the greens, to show they can create a counterbalance to the rightward drift of the centre. Without that, the new far-right alliance may only have to hold together and wait for its hour to strike.

The far rightMarine Le PenGeert WildersFranceNetherlandsEuropean electionsEuropeEuropean UnionJohn © 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


New era begins with facile win for Ireland as Greek win ensures second seed ...

Irish IndependentNew era begins with facile win for Ireland as Greek win ensures second seed ...Irish IndependentNew era begins with facile win for Ireland as Greek win ensures second seed status. Comments. Email; Print; Font Size. 15 November 2013; The Republic of Ireland team during the singing of the Irish national. The Republic of Ireland team during the ...and more »


Glafcos Clerides obituary

Greek Cypriot statesman who worked towards a settlement for the divided island of Cyprus

Cyprus is a speck of a nation with a population of barely one million. But geography, history and chance have combined to give it a disproportionate importance in world affairs. Over the years, it has risen to the challenge of its role by producing politicians of a stature to hold their own among representatives of much bigger and stronger countries. Glafcos Clerides, who has died aged 94, was the outstanding example – a local nationalist who, at an comparatively early stage in his political career, won the right to be considered a statesman.

In a sense, it was his ability to see clearly the bigger issues that was his tragedy. He grasped – more than a decade before the majority of his fellow Greek Cypriots – the true implications of Turkey's invasion of the island in 1974. But he was unable to convert the electorate to his view that half a loaf was better than none, and paid for his beliefs with a long stretch in the political wilderness.

Ironically, the Turkish Cypriots' subsequent refusal to accept what he regarded as manifestly reasonable proposals turned Clerides from a conciliator into a rejectionist. His two terms as president, from 1993 until 2003, will be remembered as a period of fruitless dialogue and increased tensions between the two communities. But it was also during Clerides's presidency that the negotiations for Cyprus to join the European Union were completed.

Clerides was born in Nicosia, the son of a distinguished barrister, and went on to become a lawyer himself. But before starting his career, he served in the RAF during the second world war. His bomber was shot down over Hamburg in 1942 and he spent the rest of the conflict as a prisoner of war. It was as a law student in London after the war that he met and married his Indian-born wife, Lila, who was then working for the BBC.

In 1951, not long after the birth of their only child, Katy, Clerides returned to Cyprus to practise law. He always denied being a member of the Eoka guerrilla movement, but was active in the independence struggle (a slight misnomer in the case of the Greek Cypriots, most of whom actually wanted union or enosis with Greece).

By the time independence was in sight, Clerides's credentials both as a lawyer and as a nationalist were sufficiently well-established for him to be appointed justice minister in the transitional period from British colonial rule. In July 1960, he was elected to the House of Representatives and served as its president or speaker until 1976.

The years following independence saw the collapse into violence of the dream of a Cyprus in which Greeks and Turks could co-exist under a complex set of power-sharing arrangements. By 1968, the two communities were deeply divided on a wide range of constitutional issues.

In May that year, Clerides was asked by President Makarios to represent the Greek Cypriot side in what was to be the first of many rounds of talks with the then Turkish Cypriot number two, Rauf Denktash. The two men had been law students together in London, and throughout their lengthy and tortuous dealings they retained an affectionate, if wary, respect for one another.

There were obvious similarities between them. They were both rotund, genial and engagingly wily. But despite the hopes repeatedly attached to it, the long-running Clerides and Denktash show never delivered peace, and it has been argued that it was a mistake for each side to have put up such an able lawyer.

The other view, not necessarily incompatible, is that Clerides was repeatedly held back from a compromise by Makarios. Certainly, by the end of the first set of talks, which dragged on until 1974, Clerides would have been willing to accept local autonomy, which at that time was the Turkish Cypriots' principal demand.

Three months after the talks collapsed, disaster struck. The Greek National Guard on the island, backed by the junta in Athens, staged a coup with the totally unrealistic aim of forcing enosis. A former Eoka gunman, Nicos Sampson, was appointed president and Turkey invaded to prevent what many Turks and Turkish Cypriots feared would be a bloodbath.

Sampson resigned three days after the Turkish troops landed, and Clerides was made acting president. A further round of talks with Denktash, by then the leader of his community, in Geneva failed to prevent the Turkish forces from renewing their offensive and seizing the whole of the north.

After Makarios's return, Clerides resumed his role as speaker of the house and negotiator in chief. He talked with Denktash in Vienna in January 1975, in New York in September 1975 and later Cyprus itself. But all to no avail.

Clerides himself became convinced that the Greek Cypriots could never get back more than a part of the north and he was ready to compromise on the Turkish Cypriots' demands for a bi-zonal solution, in return for the cession of territory. Few others in the south wanted to face up to the ugly reality, though, and Makarios never felt able or willing to give Clerides the backing he needed.

In April 1976, Clerides resigned in despair from his post as negotiator. Politically, his departure cost him dear. At the elections in the Greek Cypriot area that year, his recently founded Democratic Rally party (DISY) failed to win a single seat.

The death of Makarios in 1977 and his replacement by Spyros Kyprianou marked the start of a period in which the Greek Cypriot side gradually hardened its position. Clerides's political fortunes improved at the 1981 general election when his right-wing party took 12 of the 35 Greek Cypriot seats in the House of Representatives. But he failed to wrest the presidency from Kyprianou two years later and, when Kyprianou's grip on power was finally loosened in 1988, it was the communist-backed millionaire Georghios Vassiliou, and not Clerides, who replaced him as head of state.

Vassiliou's victory represented a defeat for the fruitless, hardline attitudes of the Kyprianou era. It marked a return to sort of the flexibility that had characterised Clerides's approach in the mid-70s.

But by the time he entered his second presidential campaign, Clerides himself had changed. He now, for example, favoured an increase in Greece's military presence as a way of strengthening the Greek Cypriots' bargaining position and forcing a solution.

By the time he entered his third presidential campaign, in 1993, it was as the hardline challenger. His victory, by a margin of just 0.6 per cent of the vote, was greeted with misgivings by many international diplomats who would have been overjoyed to see him as head of state a decade and a half earlier.

Since the Turks and Turkish Cypriots also now represented vastly more intransigent positions – to the extent of being censured by the UN secretary general for their obstructiveness – it may be wondered whether the shades of dissimilarity in Clerides's position made a jot of difference. At all events, his presidency did not bring the island any nearer a settlement.

On the contrary, there were only the most desultory of inter-communal talks, and more than one clash between Greek Cypriot demonstrators and Turkish forces. In 1996, two demonstrators were killed within a few days of each other.

At the same time, the tensions between Greece and Turkey over Cyprus soared. Yet, somehow, throughout it all, Clerides and Denktash managed to keep intact their mutual respect and a wicked, shared sense of humour. The Cyprus Mail recalled that in 2003, when his eternal sparring partner was in hospital after a serious operation, Clerides rang him up.

He asked Denktash how he was and the Turkish Cypriot leader said "Glafcos, I wouldn't wish this on my worst enemy", to which Clerides replied "thank you, Rauf".

Clerides's wife died in 2007. He is survived by his daughter.

• Glafcos Clerides, politician, born 24 April 1919; died 15 November 2013

CyprusEuropeGreeceTurkeyJohn © 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