November 28, 2014

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SHOCK - 4 Centuries Of Ottoman Slavery "National Heritage" To Greece, Says Venizelos!

There have been many moments here at HellasFrappe when I personally paused and shook my head in disbelief and immediately wanted to state my opinion on the given issue. This next story is one of those moments.

By Marina Spanos
HellasFrappe Editor

The Ottoman Empire enriched Greece's "national heritage" according to Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos. A report on the military news site defencenet, claims that the (provocative, pitiful and ludicrous) statement by Venizelos was made to the journalist Asligul Atasagun for Turkey's TV- Cine5 channel.

Was it Venizelos' declaration of allegiance to the "Sublime Porte" of "Sultan" R.T.Erdogan? It could have well been.  Does this also mean that we can expect a deeper Turkification of Greek life with more Turkish soap operas, or even mosques across Athens, or in other areas of the country such as Thessaloniki, Eastern Macedonia, Thrace and the islands of Rhodes, or Kos? Noone knows, but at a time when there is so much increased tension in the Eastern Mediterranean -most of which is being generated by Turkey- one has to really wonder exactly what the Greek Minister was shooting at when he made these unprecedented, uncalled for, and anti-Hellenic statements.

My commentary would have ended there, but I was bothered by his statements to burden Greek taxpayers with the construction of a grand Mosque.

According to the article, he told the Turkish channel that Greek taxpayers' money will be used to construct a mosque in Athens.
     "Yes, clearly a mosque is a public project, donated by the State to the Muslim community in Athens, because we are talking about a public entity, not a private initiative. The infrastructure will serve the religious needs of the Muslim community in Athens and this is something that is obvious and necessary for every European, modern society without prejudice," said Venizelos.
Anyone who reads HellasFrappe knows very well that we respect all religions and religious beliefs, but the issue of constructing a mosque, or any such religious center will not be supported by us especially when we know that it has been requested by Ankara.

The reason (s)? It (they) is (are) quite simple really. Has Turkey ever funded the construction of a Greek church in Constantinople, or elsewhere on its territory? Quite the contrary, in many areas Greek churches were forcibly transformed into Mosques or they were even used as bathrooms! Even Greek Christian burial sites have not been respected in Turkey, and it was not long ago when our blog featured a fashion layout at one such Christian cemetery with young Turkish fashion models posing over Christian headstones.

This is why Venizelos' statements angered me. Why do we continue to close our eyes in the name of diplomacy to a country that harbors barbarians that eat body parts of Christians on live camera, that supports the trafficking of human beings, that commits GENOCIDES, that invaded Cyprus, that forcibly Turkifies citizens in our own country and that is provoking the men and women in our defence forces everyday with all its actions in the Eastern Mediterranean?

To please and impress who? NATO? The EU?


I cannot understand why our society tolerates weak men such as Venizelos who obviously bend over backwards to the Sultan almost 200 years after real men such as Kolokotronis fought for our Independence. Doesn't he realize that our ancestors are rolling in their graves with his statements?

The Ottoman Empire was not beneficial to Greeks, and I personally challenge anyone who thinks otherwise. In fact I believe it set the Greek people back hundreds of years. Our nation was once glorified. We gave birth to democracy, the sciences, the arts, drama, the Olympics, etc.. And as we all know democracy is far from Sharia Law and the "dark years of bondage".

Diplomats can turn a blind eye to the truth, sugar-coat everything and throw dust in our eyes in the name of strengthening relations (or basically following the "politically correct" demands of the imperialists) but we know the truth because the wounds from all of Turkey's actions against Greece are still too fresh. In fact the only thing we feel towards Turkish foreign policy are feelings of animosity, mistrust and suspicion.

Please, do not misunderstand my point, I have no intent on demonizing the people of Turkey, but I do have the right -as a Greek citizen- to disagree and criticize Turkish foreign policy (which as we all know has never changed for decades now). Besides, Turkey's actions throughout the centuries to our Diaspora in Pontus, in Asia Minor, and in Cyprus, as well as to our brothers in Armenia, the Assyrians, the Syrians, and even the Kurds has done a pretty good job of demonizing itself all on its own.

An impasse? Perhaps but this is obviously based on factual history and never ending trauma. As we all know, history cannot be rewritten, nor can it be ignored. It can only be interpreted to serve the interests of all of those who choose to follow a "politically correct" world.

Shame on you Mr. Venizelos. How terribly humiliating for all Greeks.

(Editor's Note: Warning to the leadership of the New Democracy party. Get Venizelos out of the Greek Foreign Ministry because he is doing more damage to the government than good! Being politically correct is one thing, but bending over backwards to the Sultan is not only disgraceful it is way out of line!)

Here is the full interview without any editing!

Journalist: Recently, President Erdogan during his last visit to northern Cyprus had stated that 'to reopen the Theological School of Halki, Greece should legalize "elected muftis' of the Turkish minority in Greece, and to open the mosque in Athens. " How do you rate the appeal of Erdogan and also will open the mosque in Athens, which is the only European capital which has a mosque?
EY. Venizelos: As you know, in the field of human rights, in the field of minority rights, each state has the constitutional and institutional obligation to apply existing regulations and to respect the rights without reciprocity. This is not reciprocal, but unilateral obligation of Turkey and Greece, and every country to respect international law, human rights and especially the rights of minorities. The Greece is simultaneously an obligation to respect the rights of minorities, and in the context of the famous historical Treaty of Lausanne, under the Greek Constitution, which is a very modern European Constitution and under the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights but also in international law as organized legal system with the necessary judicial review.
Especially for muftis in Thrace, as you know, the mufti is a dual organ, not only religious services but primarily judge, public body, because in Greece, and under the Treaty of Lausanne, the mufti is above all responsible for the application of Sharia law, the traditional Islamic law. This is something very important, because in this respect the mufti is part of the legal but mostly of our judicial system. I know some suggestions and ideas for you to distinguish the two powers. We are always ready to discuss on various ideas, but not on the basis of reciprocity, because this is something that is not acceptable to European standard.
This is not an Exchange issue, trading between Greece and Turkey. We unilaterally as an entity of the international community, as a country, as a rule, the obligation to respect the rights of minorities - and our policy is full participation, full integration of the Muslim minority in Thrace in Greek economic, social, political life and the education system, in our professional lives. This is something very important not only for the Muslim minority and the Greek society as a European society with western culture, as a member of the European Union.

Journalist: Mr. Minister, the "Turkish minority" in Western Thrace ..
EY. Venizelos: not a "Turkish minority". In the terminology of the Treaty of Lausanne, this is a religious Muslim minority, this is very important because it is not a national minority.

Journalist: At this point, I would like to ask the following: there are many reactions by Greek citizens of Turkish origin, belonging to the Muslim minority. The government took a step and would mark the minority "Turkish"?
EY. Venizelos:If you talk to collective and legal entities must respect international law. Under international law, in particular under the Treaty of Lausanne, we must talk about religion, Muslim minority in Thrace. If your comment is a comment made at the level of so-called self-determination, self-determination is an individual right, according to the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

Journalist: And as far as the mosque, Minister ...
EY. Venizelos: For us, not only a mosque and the Muslim Ottoman heritage in Greece is part of our national heritage and as a former Minister of Culture, I can reiterate that the restoration and promotion of the Ottoman and Muslim monuments in Greek territory is a great advantage, not only for our cultural policy and our cultural heritage, but also for our tourism industry.

Journalist: So we could say that in the future there will be a mosque in Athens.
EY. Venizelos: Yes, very clearly. A mosque is a public project, donated by the State to the Muslim community in Athens. Because we are talking about a public entity, not a private initiative. We are talking about a public legal entity and the related infrastructure to serve the religious needs of the Muslim community in Athens. This is something obvious and necessary for every European, modern society without prejudice.

Journalist: Mr. Minister, after Ankara will go to Istanbul where he will meet Bartholomew and the Pope to visit Turkey. As orthodox, what symbolizes for you, for the Orthodox Church, the Pope's visit?
EY. Venizelos: The Pope's visit is an excellent opportunity for the international community to the past to understand the particular institutional and doctrinal role of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, as the Ecumenical Patriarchate is the other pillar of Christianity, Eastern Christianity, the first Church of the East Christianity. And in this regard, new meetings between the two bishops, Bishop of Rome and the Bishop of Constantinople, New Rome, always offer an excellent opportunity not only to relaunch and renew the theological dialogue, but also for a wide public debate on the status of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
For Turkey, the existence of the Patriarchate in your country is a great advantage, not only for tourist purposes but also because the Ecumenical Patriarchate is the oldest institution in the region, a benchmark for the global community, for the Christian community around the world. And in this respect the status and legal personality - the international and domestic legal personality - the Ecumenical Patriarchate can be also an excellent argument for the European perspective of Turkey.

Reference in Greek - defencenet

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PROVOCATION - Turkey to helicopter carrying Greek Minister: “You are flying within Turkish FIR. Please leave”

An outrageous request was issued on Thursday at noon to a Chinook helicopter that was not only carrying the Greek Minister of Defence Nikos Dendias from the Strongyli islet, to the islet of Ro islet (both of which are located in the eastern Aegean), but also the Chief of the Hellenic National Defence General Staff General Michail Kostarakos as well as the Chief of the Hellenic Army General Staff Lieutenant General Christos Manolas. The request signals a new round of provocations just a few hours ahead of Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos' visit to Turkey.

The operators of a Turkish radar transmitted the following message to the Greek helicopter:
    “You are flying within Turkish FIR. Please leave.”
A special bulletin on the onalert military news site said that the crew of the Chinook didn't respond to the Turkish call and continued on its course until it landed on the island. As the helicopter was landing, two Turkish F16s approached the island but then turned around and suddenly left.

Dendias visited the islets to inspect the units and outposts in the Area of Responsibility of the 95th Higher National Guard Battalions Command.

The incident may have not been that threatening but it certainly infuriated the Greek Defence Minister who send the following message to Turkey from the area of Kastelorizo:
     “Greece has the honor of enjoying peaceful and friendly relations with all the peoples in the world. But it is also determined to defend both its national sovereignty and its national dignity.”
(Damn right it will!)


Mikrolimano gunman detained after stating his plea

Arber Bako, the 31 year-old Albanian national who is accused of shooting up a nightclub in Piraeus last weekend is now detained until his trial, after appearing before the Greek justice system to state his plea. The ruthless gunman, who was arrested earlier this week, faces serious charges of attempted serial homicide with intent and various other weapons charges.

Late on Thursday night, Greek authorities also arrested a 30-year old Albanian national in the area of Sepolia (Athens suburb), who apparently is also suspected of being involved with Bako. The 30-year-old had is a suspect in the murder of a man in Korydallos a few months ago, whom the Police suspected may have been involved in the execution-style murder of two Golden Dawn members in Neo Iraklio.

A report in to Vima on Friday morning claims that the man arrested by Greek officials in Sepolia is “one of the more prolific executioners to have acted in Athens”.

The same report states that Bako’s gang is believed to have participated in several armed assaults in various nightclubs and shops in the areas across Athens including Agios Panteleimonas, Metaxourgio and even on Michalakopoulou Street.

Also, it is suspected that his gang is connected to another criminal gang that operated between 2007 and 2008 in Greece, and which is said to have executed 11 people and injured dozens.

Read background on this story by clicking HERE

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BRIBERY SCANDAL - Soukouras says he never bribed anyone, nor has relations with New Democracy

George Soukouras appeared on Mega Channel on Friday morning to deny the charges made against him by Independent Greeks party (ANEL) MP, Stavroula Xoulidou, as the man responsible in an alleged bribe attempt. According to him, he asked Xoulidou whether or not ANEL MP P. Melas took already accepted such a bribe, and not that other way around.

He underlined that there was never an attempt on his part to bribe anyone and that he has no relationship with the conservative New Democracy party. Quite interestingly he said that he “never spoke about money and the (the upcoming election of the Greek) President” but he did admit that he visited the offices of Mrs. Xoulidou, as well as ND MPs Adonis Georgiadis and Notis Mitarakis in order to discuss “the pensions of Northern Epirots”.

Regarding the controversial email where he apparently disclosed to Xoulidou that ANEL MP Panagiotis Melas already accepted a bribe with the aim of securing the 180 votes needed so that Greece would avoid snap elections in early 2015, Soukouras said that this was misread and apologized that Melas was implicated.

On his part, Melas has already responded that the bribery allegation was a "monstrous lie" and has threatened to take legal action against all who implicate him, including his own party colleagues.

It should be reminded that earlier this week the leader of ANEL, Panos Kammenos, told a televised news show that three months ago a member of the New Democracy approached one of his MPs and offered her three million Euros in order to secure their vote. (Click here to read full story)


90 Percent of Iraq's Orthodox Christians Displaced

A displaced Iraqi man, who fled from the Islamic State violence in Mosul, poses for the camera with his daughters at Baherka refugee camp in Erbil, September 19, 2014. A displaced Iraqi man, who fled from the Islamic State violence in Mosul, poses for the camera with his daughters at Baherka refugee camp in Erbil, September 19, 2014.

As Islamic State extremists continue their reign of terror through Iraq and Syria, the chaos, violence and persecution forced upon the thousands of people in the region has caused 90 percent of Orthodox Christians in Iraq to flee the sanctity of their homes, according to the Greek Orthodox Bishop for Baghdad, Ghattas Hazim.

Hazim, who is also the Greek Orthodox Bishop of Kuwait and other surrounding areas, said in a recent interview with Al Monitor that he fears for the future of the Orthodox Christian presence in Iraq, Syria, and the whole Mesopotamia region. Citing unspecified statistics, Hazim said that 90 percent of Iraqi Orthodox Christians have been displaced from their homes. He added that only 30 of 600 Orthodox families remain in Baghdad as ISIS' quest to conquer the city continues.

In Mosul, the Islamic State's stronghold in Iraq in the northern Nineveh province, Hazim said only 10 Orthodox families remain, although it's believed that the only Christians left in Mosul are those who could not afford to, or physically, flee.
     "We have a strong heritage, since before Christianity and during Christianity and Islam," Hazim said. "This heritage is in danger and we see that through the violation of shrines and all other cultural sites. We fear for the culture of acceptance and coexistence because it is in danger as well."
While a United Nations report from earlier this month points out that over 1.8 million people have been displaced in Iraq as of Aug. 30, with two-thirds of those displaced in areas under ISIS control, Hazim said that western Christians are not doing enough to help Middle Eastern Christians emigrate to areas of safety.
     "It is not true that the West is facilitating the emigration of Christians," Hazim said. "I know many Christians and Orthodox in particular who went to embassies and did not get visas. Others resorted to the United Nations and other international organizations in order to emigrate and it did not work out."
Hazim said he will remain in Iraq to make sure the word or God remains in the region, while many other church leaders, especially in Mosul, have fled the country or fled to Christian-accepted regions of the country, like Ebril and Dohock. Earlier this month, Canon Andrew White, the Vicar of Baghdad who serves the only Anglican church in Iraq, fled the country after being asked by the Archbishop of Canterbury to do so.
     "I will carry the word of God to my parish in Baghdad and Kuwait: Fear not, little flock, for I am with you," Hazim said. "If they persecute you, remember that they persecuted me before you. We will not fear, because this is not the first time in history that this has happened. We will stay, as long as faith remains and as long as our God exists, we will remain present."
Commenting on a recent trip that he took to Israel, Palestine and Iraqi Kurdistan, Archbishop of Oklahoma City Paul Coakley, who is also the chairman of Catholic Relief Services, told Independent Catholic News Service that there are basically no churches left in Mosul and that all of the priests had fled, along with Chaldean Catholic Archbishop of Mosul, Emil Nona, to Ebril.
     "When we were in Erbil, we met with Archbishop Amel Nona, Chaldean Catholic Archeparch of Mosul, now exiled in Erbil, who along with his priests and all of the faithful of the archdiocese, have been driven out," Coakley said. "He is, in effect, the archbishop of a Church that no longer exists. They've all been scattered. There are no more Christians in his archdiocese. That's a traumatic, but illustrative situation, of what's happening there, and what can happen, if things don't improve."
Coakley further asserted that the plight of Christians in the Middle East is not just limited to Iraq and Syria, noting that Christians are also fleeing from Israel and Palestine in large numbers.
     "Our politics in the U.S. are so pro-Israel, it's very hard to criticize some of the policies, and to point out some of the effects those policies are having in the lives of innocent people, Palestinians in this case, some of whom are Christians," Coakley argued. "But many of the Christians, unfortunately because of those policies, have been driven out of Israel and Palestine."
     "So the Christians are really the ones who are kind of suffering between a rock and a hard place," he said about the declining Christian population of the Holy Land. "Like so much of the Middle East, it has dropped precipitously in the last 40 years." 

Europa League: PAOK Hopeful, Panathinaikos Defeated, Asteras drew with Besiktas

The European campaign of Asteras Tripolis this year has come to an end after a 2-2 draw with Besiktas at the “Theodoros Kolokotronis” stadium, with the Arcadian team being four points short of qualifying to the next round with only one game left.

Meanwhile, Panathinaikos continued to disappoint its fans and met another defeat, this time by Dinamo Moscow (2-1). The Greens are at the bottom of the group, with only one point, trailing behind Estoril and Eindhoven.

Finally, PAOK managed to keep the European dream alive with its 0-2 away win against Dinamo Minsk. PAOK remains hopeful of progressing to the round of 32.

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ANALYSIS - S.Arabia’s Invisible War Against Shia Muslims in the M.East

Catherine Shakdam (NEO) -  If it is fair to say that there is no lost love in between Saudi Arabia and Shia Islam, or rather in between Al Saud and Shia Muslims, it appears that stagnant animosity in between the two could soon come to mighty blow out as the kingdom is ever pushing the sectarian card, bent on using religious prejudices to further its hegemonic ambitions in the region.

While such tactic is seldom new – looking back in history Al Saud has conducted a systematic vilifying campaign against Shia Islam, looking to outlaw and single out its people to better assert Wahhabism; its own perverse interpretation of the Scriptures – recent developments in the Middle East – political instability, civil strife and terror – have meant that the very fabric of the region stands to unravel along sectarian lines, putting world’ stability in jeopardy.

As far as the global community stands – an intra and super connected networks of powers and influences, it would be foolish, and one might say, irresponsible, to believe that events occurring in the Middle East will not carry an impact onto the rest of the world. If anything, the threat which Islamic radicalism poses to the international community today should have taught us this!

With Saudi Arabia very much driving the regional political narrative, the Middle East has been reduced to a religious flashpoint, an incubus for religious fascism, which will ultimately generate yet more bloodshed and instability.

The terror paradigm

Regardless of how many times political analysts and experts have warned against the nefarious influence Saudi Arabia has had on the Middle East and to an extent the Islamic world, through its promotion of discriminatory religious labelling; western powers have nevertheless played to Al Saud’s tune. Even though it was established that ISIS – Islamic State of Iraq and Al Sham – Al Qaeda and the likes have all anchored their ideology on Wahhabi and Salafi Islam, which school of thoughts were born and cultivated in Saudi Arabia, by the very people which claim now to want to destroy it, the international community has chosen still to side with Al Saud absolute theocratic regime.

As noted by Alastair Crooke in his report for the Huffington Post in August 2014, “You Can’t understand ISIS if you don’t know the history of Wahhabism in Saudi Arabia.” Everything ISIS stands for, campaigns for, believes and implements is no more than the expression of Wahhabism, as promoted by Al Saud royals, only unfiltered. To put in a nutshell, ISIS has done what Al Saud could not and dared not – but not out of an ideological divergence, rather fear of repercussions.

If in doubt, one needs only to look with which ease Saudi Arabia sentenced Sheikh Nimr Al Nimr – prominent Shia cleric – to death by crucifixion this October. In keeping with Al Saud wishes, a Saudi judge thought adequate to condemn Sheikh Al Nimr to death by beheading, and then crucifixion, whereby his mutilated body would be paraded and displayed to the public on account of his denunciation of Al Saud’s brutal regime.

One could dare say that ISIS has drawn its inspiration and penchant for gruesome executions from Saudi Arabia.

And while it would appear logical and only natural for world powers to unite against Wahhabism, an ideology so radical that it has inspired the worst and most dangerous breed of terrorists of modern time, they instead chose to stand by Saudi Arabia and enable its regime.

So what have Al Saud done with such support? Have they endeavoured to destroy ISIS and free the region of such plague? Have they encouraged communities to unite and pull together before the threat of radicalism?

No, and no … instead Al Saud have waged war against Shia Islam, using their pull from within the international community to erode at its house and lay waste its people. Interestingly, ISIS too has declared Shia Islam as its designated arch-enemy. It is uncanny how much ISIS and Saudi Arabia have in common these days.

Al Saud’s crusade

While tensions in between Shia and Sunnis can be traced back to the first Caliphate, when Abu Bakr – Prophet Mohammed’s companion and father –in-law- was appointed leader of the Muslims over Imam Ali – Prophet Mohammed’s most prominent war general, cousin and son-in-law – old rancour and hatred in between the two communities came alive in 2011, on the back of the so-called Arab Spring movement.

Where Muslims had learnt to live side by side for centuries without so much as a hiccup – until recently Yemen knew nothing of sectarianism – communities suddenly found themselves pitted against each other over their respective religious affiliations for no rhyme or reason, all because it served one power – Saudi Arabia – political game play.

In January, Patrick Cockburn wrote for the Independent, “It is a ferocious war waged by assassination, massacre, imprisonment and persecution that has killed tens of thousands of people. But non-Muslims – and many Muslims – scarcely notice this escalating conflict that pits Shia minority against Sunni majority.”

To which he added,
     “The victims of the war in recent years are mostly Shia.”
And indeed, while the world has remained focus on ISIS’ movements in the Middle East, hundreds of thousands of Shia Muslims across the Islamic world, from Bahrain to Lebanon, Pakistan to Yemen and Syria, communities throughout have suffered by the hands of extremists, emboldened by the messages of hatred which have all came out from Riyadh.

Under Saudi Arabia’s influence the Middle East has been radicalized and sectarianized to serve one family’s folly.

In the same manner the Catholic Church used religion to conquer Jerusalem and lay claim to its riches, labelling Muslims infidels for all intents and purposes, Al Saud has sought to criminalize Shia Islam, to deflect attention from the real issue at hand – Saudi Arabia hegemonic ambition.

Just as Israel has worked to dehumanize, vilify and criminalize Palestinians in their resistance efforts, Saudi Arabia has called for sanctions against those powers which have dared challenge its religious and political supremacy – Iran, the Lebanese Hezbollah, the Houthis of Yemen, Al Wefaq in Bahrain … the list goes on.

Dangerous games

Only this week the UAE – one of Saudi Arabia’s vassal in the Arabian Peninsula – announced it had decided to list the Houthis of Yemen as a terror organization, arguing that its aim was to combat the spread of terror across the region. The fact that the Houthis have single-handedly held back Al Qaeda advances in Yemen, preventing terror militants from marching against the capital, Sana’a, seems to have been of little consequence in the face of their greater crime – Shiism

Last July, the US passed a bill which aimed to cripple the Lebanese Hezbollah and thus weaken its traction within the region, and more specifically its ability to back Syrian President Bashar Al Assad government.

While this strategy has proven not only detrimental to Lebanon itself as it has put a strain on the country’s banking sector, one of the pillars of its economy, it has also served to embolden ISIS further.

Since Hezbollah has been a main driving force in keeping ISIS militants in check in both Syria and Lebanon, such targeting of its financial infrastructures has played in favour of ISIS and its affiliates, thus working directly against western interests.

Western powers’ insistence to align with Saudi Arabia and play into Saudi Arabia’s political narrative is exactly what has exacerbated instability.

In the span of three short years the Middle East has but completely gone up in smoke, with conflicts raging at all four corners of the region – Libya, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Bahrain and Yemen. All have one common denominator – sectarianism.

Saudi Arabia’s blind ambition and its hatred for Shia Islam are what endanger the region.

Unless world powers are willing to look past political prejudices, as Russia and Iran have invited them to, it is likely the only winner of this war of religious will be those powers which have held the world in fear – terrorists.

The author, Catherine Shakdam, is the Associate Director of the Beirut Center for Middle Eastern Studies and a political analyst specializing in radical movements, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.

Lufthansa Set To Launch Direct Flights to Crete in Summer 2015

Lufthansa announced the launch of a new direct flight to Crete this summer, from Munich to the Cretan city of Heraakleio, once a week on Saturday from May 23, 2015. It is also going to add two additional flights from Munich to Athens, thus increasing the total number of flights to 23 per week. The airline is planning to operate 21 flights a week between Athens and Frankfurt during the summer of 2015.

The Lufthansa Group, which includes Swiss Air, Australian Airlines, Brussels Airlines and Germanwings, is now going to operate a total 158 flights to Greece from various airports next summer. More flights, more tourists!

November 27, 2014


Soros: The EU is a “Failed” Experiment In “International Governance”

Steven MacMillan (NEO) -  Is the Western elite’s brainchild – the European Union – disintegrating? Due to persistent economic problems, the rise of “popular resentment” across the continent, the political fallout after the illegal coup in Ukraine and the subsequent unpopular economic war on Russia, the EU is on the verge of crumbling. In an interview with France 24, the hedge fund manager, billionaire and founder of the Open Society Foundation, George Soros, reveals that the European Union has failed to achieve the desires of the elite and many within Europe now see “Russia as a role model”:
    “We have to recognise that the [European] Union itself, which is a noble, well-intended experiment in international governance, has failed, and has not delivered what it promised, and there is such a degree of disappointment that even Russia can offer an alternative.” (3.21 into the interview)
Soros then asserts that many in Europe – including the UK Independence Party (UKIP) leader Nigel Farage, Front National President Marine Le Pen in France, as well as “a lot of people in Germany” – find the idea of “closer cooperation with Russia rather attractive”.

Europe has been in crisis for years now and the outcome of this latest flare up with Russia could determine the future of the EU itself. In an article featured in The New York Review this month titled: Wake Up, Europe, Soros notes that since the financial crisis of 2008 and the subsequent austerity policies imposed by the nefarious troika, “popular resentment” and support for anti-European parties has risen:
    “The European Union in general and the eurozone in particular lost their way after the financial crisis of 2008.The fiscal rules that currently prevail in Europe have aroused a lot of popular resentment. Anti-Europe parties captured nearly 30 percent of the seats in the latest elections for the European Parliament but they had no realistic alternative to the EU to point to until recently. Now Russia is presenting an alternative that poses a fundamental challenge to the values and principles on which the European Union was originally founded…. It is also high time for the European Union to take a critical look at itself… The bureaucracy of the EU no longer has a monopoly of power and it has little to be proud of.”
The elite have become increasingly fearful of popular uprisings across the West which they seek to “co-opt and channel”, as Paul Joseph Watson reported for Infowars in September. As anger continues to mount in the West at the ineptitude and immorality of government, the elite will attempt to “co-opt” organic movements and even create artificial political movements to guide and neutralize “popular passions”.

The EU: An extension of the Anglo-American Elite

The EU is the brainchild of an international elite who have been in the process of building an empire for over a century, with the EU serving as “a bold experiment in international governance and the rule of law, aimed at replacing nationalism and the use of force”. The EU is an experiment in replacing national countries with a union which is to be amalgamated with emerging sovereignty-usurping unions across the planet, including the North American Union and a possible Middle Eastern Union, into a global empire. The executive body of the EU – the European Commission – is a corporate partner of the Royal Institute of International Affairs (RIIA), the parallel British government which strives for global conquest.

√Čtienne Davignon, a former European Commissioner and an influential architect of European integration, revealed that the annual Anglo-American conference – the Bilderberg group – “helped create the Euro in the 1990’s.” Soros himself is hugely entrenched within the shadow world empire, as he heads up the European Council on Foreign Relations in addition to being heavily involved with the Council on Foreign Relations in the U.S.

Blowback from Economic Warfare on Russia

Europe has been the home of protests by irate farmers who have been hit hardest by the nonsensical political decision to impose sanctions on Russia following the illegal Western coup in Kiev. In response to Western sanctions, Russia imposed a ban on food imports in August from countries backing the sanctionsresulting in lower food prices in Europe as produce floods the market yet demand has dropped from a major importer in the East. This ban would never have been applied if the West did not overthrow the government in Kiev, and then further antagonise Moscow by implementing sanctions on the country. The loss of trade due to lower food exports is set to cost the EU an estimated $6.6 billion a year, yet the social blowback from the agricultural sector in an already sensitive and potentially volatile continent could be unquantifiable.

France has been gripped by numerous protests over the past few months as living standards continue to fall and the prohibition of exporting certain foods to Russia takes effect. Farmers in Brittany torched tax officesin addition to dumping cauliflower, artichokes and manure outside government offices during a protest in mid September, due to frustration with government policies. An estimated 36,000 people participated in a nation-wide protest in France earlier this month where they again dumped manure and rotten vegetablesoutside local government buildings, partly due to being unable to export food to Russia.

Spain has also seen protests by the farming sector over Russian sanctions, as agricultural unions dumped surplus potatoes outside the French multinational retailer Carrefour in Granada. The unions were protesting against the price Carrefour pays for their crops as well as the European Commission’s Emergency Fund not covering the loss potato farmers are experiencing due to reduced food exports. The fund purchases surplus stock from certain products produced to compensate farmers unable to export food to Russia, but it does not cover superfluous potato stocks.

Dissent and opposition to the policies of the EU is much broader than just the blowback from imposing sanctions on Russia however, as “it could be argued that the majority of citizens are opposed to the current conditions” on the continent. Austerity has decimated Southern Europe and anti-austerity rallies have become a fixture of life for many Europeans. In October, Naples witnessed thousands of people taking to the streets outside a European Central Bank (ECB) meeting held in Italy, where protestors demanded an end to austerity and high unemployment.

Unemployment and contempt towards the political class has soared across the European continent since the financial crisis of 2008, and this could trigger a revolution in Europe in the coming years. There is no question that the elite will do everything in their power to prop up the EU and attempt to “co-opt” any movement challenging the established order, but this may prove ineffective at containing the imminent uprising…

The author, Steven MacMillan, is an independent writer, researcher, geopolitical analyst and editor of  The Analyst Report, especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.


BECOME ACTIVE: US & EU Must Reject Geopolitics & Collaborate With the BRICS

In today’s nuclear age, the consequence of a geopolitical policy of confrontation with Russia and China can only be the thermonuclear extinction of the human race. Therefore, every effort must be made to cooperate to solve the multiple crises facing humanity.

The BRICS nations (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) have united to pursue a policy of economic development not just for their individual countries, but for the benefit of the people of all nations. To that end, they have created a New Development Bank to invest billions in necessary development projects.

China recently initiated the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), joined by over 20 Asian nations as founding members, and has set up a Silk Road Development Fund.

At the APEC conference in Beijing, Chinese President Xi Jinping invited President Obama to join the efforts of China and other Asian nations, including Russia, in the development of the New Silk Road.

These initiatives are not geopolitical in nature. Contrary to the Transpacific Partnership (TPP) advocated by Obama, which excludes Russia and China, the BRICS-related initiatives including the Chinese proposed Free Trade Area of the Asian Pacific (FTAAP), are inclusive. They are based on the concept expressed by the late Pope Paul VI that the “new name of peace is development.” Thus, in Australia at the recent G-20 meeting, both Xi Jinping and Indian Prime Minister Modi spoke of the twin goals of achieving global peace and ending poverty through economic development.

There is no problem in the world that cannot be solved by such an approach, and conversely, no problem that will be solved without it.

Such cooperation between the U.S., Russia, China and India, among other nations, is necessary to defeat the Ebola pandemic in Africa.

The terrorist threat represented by ISIS and Al-Qaeda is aimed equally at Russia, China, and India, as well as the U.S. and Europe. It can only be defeated through a new security architecture based on cooperation.

The policy of conducting “color revolutions” under the pretext of democracy, represents a policy of war, even if that term is not used, because its aim is to topple governments with the aid of foreign money. It has to stop. The campaign to impose sanctions on Russia for its opposition to such “color revolutions” and to a Nazi coup in Ukraine, is only exacerbating the global crisis. An approach based on mutual cooperation to achieve the common ends of mankind throughout Eurasia and beyond, would instead create the basis for global peace.

While the U.S. has abandoned the Kennedy space program, the Chinese are committed to a lunar program focused on the exploitation of helium-3 for the purpose of generating unlimited fusion energy. With collaboration between the U.S., Europe, Russia, China and India, among other nations, man could finally realize Johannes Kepler’s vision of mastery of the laws of the solar system for the benefit of man

Only such an approach would restore the United States and Europe to their original purpose as expressed in the European Renaissance and the American Revolution, a purpose which the U.S. and Europe have increasingly abandoned, and the rest of the world has now adopted and is now urging them to readopt.

We therefore call upon the U.S. and Europe to abandon the suicidal geopolitical policies of the past which led to the two previous World Wars and are leading to a third, and to build a future for all humanity by readopting the principle of the Treaty of Westphalia, by basing foreign policy on the principle of the “benefit of the other,” which ended the Thirty Years War in Europe, and on John Quincy Adams’ concept of a “community of principle among sovereign nation states.”

That is the only course coherent with the true nature of man as the only creative species. Any other course is based on a concept of man as an animal, and leads to human extinction. As patriots of our own nations, and as citizens of the world, we call on our fellow citizens and the leaders of our nations to have the courage to break the current cycle of escalating bestiality, by accepting the generous offer to collaborate with the BRICS.

Sign Participation Form at:

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ANALYSIS - Bears & Byzantium: How The West Misreads Russian Grand Strategy

Common complaints within Intelligence Studies about the examination of foreign intelligence communities, especially those not residing in the west, run the gamut from being too historically driven to being completely ahistorical and thus nothing more than a simple organizational review of facts and details to being too often inevitably compared against a standard framework that uses either the United States or the United Kingdom as the backdrop. While these analyses are all important, they have failed to look at how the competing conceptualizations of culture within the discipline engender entirely different approaches and therefore radically different conclusions about how we view and evaluate said communities. Below is a ‘case glance’ of the phenomenon utilizing the Russian Federation. Perhaps most interesting and fairly unexpected is how in terms of security affairs American understanding about Russia seems to be hurt more analytically by grand strategic culture and is often never analyzed from a perspective that emphasizes contemporary reality, purpose-based objectives and actual organizational functionality.

Dr. Matthew Crosston (NEO) -  Despite every effort by officials within the Russian Federation since the end of the Cold War to decry a new foreign policy strategy and to instigate new relations based on ideas of multipolarity and balanced global power, most American analyses of Russia cannot seem to get past characterizing every Russian maneuver and interest in a grand strategic cultural way. When this is done Russia is inevitably seen as aspiring to new ‘great power’ status or attempting to reconstitute Soviet glory or is subconsciously beholden to an autocratic instinct that dates even further back, either to the czars or even back to Byzantium.

This type of cognitive closure is detrimental to American intelligence and diplomacy because it is purposefully limiting the potential frames of engagement between the two sides. In many ways the United States, both in terms of its scholarship and diplomatic efforts, has blindly created self-fulfilling prophecies when it comes to the Russian Federation because of a repeated inability to see past its own reliance on grand strategic culture as the chief defining point for understanding Russians.

This is what led outstanding scholars like Samuel Huntington as early as 1993 to make statements like, ‘if, as the Russians stop behaving like Marxists, they reject liberal democracy and begin behaving like Russians but not like Westerners, the relations between Russia and the West could again become distant and conflictual.’

It is in the same vein that scholars seem to think the modern-day has no real relevance on understanding Russian foreign policy and intelligence/national security prioritization. This incredulous overreliance on ancient culture, where scholars and practitioners alike believe the roots of all Russian decisions in 2014 require an understanding of the Russian soul from 500, even 1000, years before, leads American analysts down a rabbit hole of quasi-mysticism and vague truisms.

This is why so many Russian intelligence officials scoff at American analysis, whether it is from the ivory tower or Foggy Bottom.
     “Of the organization of the Soviet and subsequent Russian state we can draw no specific indication of Byzantine bureaucratic organization, but in spirit the way the Soviets organized their government for security purposes is still quite Russian… What is being argued here is that the way the Byzantines managed their security and intelligence was a function of the political culture of the state, the same political culture that was inherited later by the Kievan and then Russian state, and which has served the Soviet and subsequent post-Soviet Russian state.”
The above is not being singled out for it is truly an exemplar of the kind of analysis that passes for grand strategic culture when examining Russia. Not only are the arguments non-scientific, they are ultimately spurious: these analyses are not trying to ascertain the true motivations of contemporary Russian intelligence decisions.

Rather they are trying to make sure Russia stays within the frame that already exists. This is cognitive closure at its worst: where the question ‘why do they do what they do?’ transforms instead into ‘what kind of Russia do we want and how do we make sure it becomes that and that alone?’

Grand strategic cultural thinking on Russian intelligence reveals relatively little about modern Russian thinking for American analysts, but it reveals a wealth of information on American thinking for Russian analysts.

An emphasis on grand strategic culture will actually make for better reading, as you will inevitably be taken down a road of the most interesting and intense historical and cultural impacts, possibly going back thousands of years.

Organizational cultural conditions will instead leave you diving into budget concerns, internal turf wars over specific issue-areas, and the changing dynamics of micro-subjects that might not even make the paper, let alone a history text. But those conditions are the things that reveal the most about the contemporary prioritizing of intelligence communities, much more so than fascinating turns down history lane.

More importantly, there seems to be a disconnect in our discipline where the more important security/intelligence countries are dominated by grand strategic cultural analyses. Perhaps that is a reason we seem to make so little headway in better understanding those impactful intelligence communities like Russia.

The author, Dr. Matthew Crosston, is Professor of Political Science and Director of the International Security and Intelligence Studies program at Bellevue University, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”

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OPINION - Church and state in Greece - A new concordat?

In the churches of this country's second city, some of which date from the Byzantine era, there was a decent turnout of worshippers recently for one of the most enigmatic and mystical rites of the Greek church calendar: a service commemorating the moment when the Virgin Mary, as a young girl, is said to have gone to live in the Jerusalem Temple and prepared to become a new kind of "temple" herself by carrying a divine child in her womb.

The liturgical poetry was reassuringly familiar, but there is nervousness in the chilly autumn air.

Apart from the personal hardship that many church-goers are facing because of a lingering economic crisis, they face a new uncertainty in the coming months—the possible advent of a leftist government which is committed to separating church and state in what has hitherto been one of the most "theocratic" countries in Europe.

If, as seems very possible, the current legislature fails to muster the necessary votes to elevate a new state president early next year, there will be early parliamentary elections, and the leftist Syriza party—led by a veteran of the communist youth movement, Alexis Tsipras—could well top the poll.

At full stretch, severing the connection between church and state would presumably mean:

  • i) stripping the Orthodox church of its constitutionally guaranteed role as the "prevailing religion" in Greece;
  • ii) ending the arrangement where priests and many other people who work for the church are on the state pay-roll;
  • iii) tidying up and in some cases sequestering the church's vast and ill-defined property portfolio;
  • iv) putting a stop to the prayers and confessional instruction which are part of the daily diet for almost all pupils at state schools;
  • v) ending all tax exemptions for religious institutions. 

Certainly there are plenty of secular leftists in Greece who would love to do all that.

At a time when Greece's old left-right fissures are widening again, there is lots of anti-clerical feeling among socialists who suspect the church leadership of colluding with the political right or even far-right. But in reality, say people close to the world of church-state relations, the old ties are loosening already and this process might not accelerate all that much under a hard-leftist government.

Already, under a conservative-led government, the rate at which priests are being ordained, and hence joining the state pay-roll, has slowed to a trickle—not for any ideological reason but because of internationally-mandated budget cuts. And the old practice of inculcating school-children with Orthodox Christian doctrine is giving way to something more like "religious studies" as classrooms fill up with migrants from places ranging from Albania to China.

And for several reasons, a Syriza-led government would probably hold back from a head-on confrontation with the church. One is that the church has played a big role in providing food, medicine and other basics to victims of the economic crisis who would otherwise be desperate; Syriza might not like that state of affairs, but it can't be changed overnight.

Another is that changing any part of the Greek constitution is a burdensome procedure—it can't be done in the lifetime of a single parliament—and stripping out all the provisions which privilege the church and various monasteries would take an enormous amount of political energy and time. Yet another is that Greece has a small but modestly flourishing tradition of "religious leftism"—people who combine religious faith with radical political ideas—and that is one of the many impulses that Syriza seeks to harness.

A new biography has just appeared of one of Greece's better-known champions of the political left. A turbulent cleric called Father George Pirounakis who opposed the right-wing dictatorship of 1967-1974, supported student uprisings against the junta, and later demanded that bishops who had succoured the tyrants should be held to account.

During the 1980s, he was temporarily suspended from ecclesiastical life because he agreed to help an initiative by a Socialist government that would have stripped the church of some of its land. By the end of his life in 1988, he was disappointed by the fact that church and state leadership had settled their differences by striking a cosy political bargain that left the property holdings intact. Such bargains have been struck many times in the past, and the chances are that there will be plenty more.

No Deal Reached Between Greece & Troika In Paris Over Bailout Exit

Greece and its EU/IMF lenders failed to resolve differences over next year΄s budget at talks in Paris, a Greek official said on Wednesday, raising doubts about whether Athens can meet a deadline to wrap up its bailout program.

The two sides have been haggling over a projected budget shortfall next year, which has held up an overall deal on the final bailout review. Athens needs to strike that deal by a Dec. 8 deadline to ensure it makes good on a pledge to quit its 240 billion euro ($300 billion) bailout by the end of the year.

The official said to Reuters that there had been no discussion of extending the bailout beyond the end of the year, but also added that no date had been set for the return of EU/IMF inspectors to Athens.

The inspectors failed to return to Athens as expected earlier this month and in a surprise move, the two sides held talks in Paris this week that ended on Wednesday.
     "The number one issue is the fiscal gap for 2015," the Greek finance ministry official told reporters after the talks ended.
The lenders say Athens faces a shortfall of over 2 billion euros next year unless it waters down a generous state arrears payback plan for austerity-hit Greeks or takes other measures.

Athens says it faces no such shortfall and last week submitted its plans for a near-balanced budget to parliament without approval from the inspectors.

Greece΄s government has staked its survival on abandoning the bailout. It is hoping an early exit from the reviled program will help it win enough support to scrape through a presidential vote in February and avoid early elections.

Video appeal to the Greek public for testimonies

Sarah Luzia Hassel-Reusing (who has filed the charge Az. OTP – CR 345/12) requests to spread this video (in German, English, and Greek language) with the appeal for testimonies as far as possible and to embed it on on one's blog or website, so that the people are reached extensively. Thank you.

Introduction to the appeal to the Greek population for testimonies

My name is Volker Reusing. At the 21.11.2012, my wife Sarah Luzia Hassel-Reusing has filed a charge against unknown at the International Criminal Court at The Hague for the suspicion of a crime against humanity because of large-scale and systematical damaging of the health by the austerity measures at Greece (file number OTP – CR 345/12). Since the evidence and the possible perpretators to be considered from different groups, regarding the drafting, the decision, and the implementation of the conditions as well as regarding the orientation of the legal instru-ments for that to a strictness as it is applied at Greece (preamble EFSF Framework Treaty) and as applied by the IMF (conclu-sions of the Ecofin Committee of the 09.05.2010, file numer SN 2564/1/10), are spread over many countries, only the International Criminal Court can deal with this case in view of its international dimension.

It is no fate and not natural disaster, if the health of people is damaged, because one deprives them of medically needed means, even though cost reductions could also be done in other areas. It is a crime, namely a crime against humanity according to art. 7 par. 1 lit. k Roman Statute, if one intentionously, knowing that one does it, systematically or large-scale damages the health of a civil population. It is already a sufficient degree of intention for this crime, if one imposes conditions, which damage the health, or goes on imposing them, even though one knows, that they cause or will cause such a damage, even if one has not the aim to damge the health, but accepts that to reach other aims like, for example, the rights or the interests of creditors.

It had to be known to those people, who are responsible for the drafting, the decision, and the implementation of the austerity measures, that the UN Social Pact, which is ratified also by Greece, contains a human right to the, for the respective human being, highest attainable standard of health (art. 12) and a basical prohibition of retrogression (art. 2). It also had to be known to them, that, according to the General Comment no. 14 to the UN Social Pact, resulting from that, before cuts regarding the human rights of that treaty first all available means have to be used, and that particularly the health has to be the last area regarding austerity measures. Even if the situation in the state budget and in the social insurance may have been so grave, that it may have be solveable only with significant cuts into the property of the creditors, tax increases, and also social cuts, there had nevertheless enough to be left for all inhabitants of Greece for their medical supply, for enough healthy food, and for housing.

According to an estimation by the Greek Minister of Health, His Exellency, Mr. Adonis Georgiadis, 700,- million € per year would suffice, to help the inhabitants of Greece, who have no health insurance, whose number he estimates as between 1.9 and 2.4 million people.

Instead, one spends up to 50.- billion € alone for the financial stability of the Greek financial sector.

In order to achieve, that the ICC can start a procedure and find out the guilty persons, it is not enough, to prove the system and the large-scale at an abstract level, but it also needs enough testimonies by people, who have been damaged, or as far as they already have died, by their relatives.

Regarding a massacre against unarmed demonstrators at the 28.09.2009 at Guinea, 150 victims, and regarding presumed war crimes in the years 2003 to 2008 at Iraq, 85 of sampled 400 cases, have been enough for the ICC to presume a large scale.

At Greece, for many more than 150 people, necessary medicaments and medical treatments, or food and housing are not affordable any more, because of the austerity measures.

Since at an abstract level, the system and the large-scale have already been explained comprehensively, we believe, that already some more than 85 testimonies of concrete inhabitants of Greece, whose health has been damaged by the austerity measures, will be enough to move the ICC to start a procedure and to find out the guilty persons.

We are glad and express our thanks, that the former Greek ambassor Mr. Leonidas Chrysynthopoulos supports us as our contact at Greece for the collection of testimonies and for their translation into English.

In the following, I now read out the appeal by Sarah Luzia Hasel-Reusing to the Greek population for testimonies:


  • -on the estimated 700.- million € see article „Health Insurance a Victim of Austerity in Greece“ by Greek Reporter of the 24.04.2014
  • -on the example Guinea see article „Spart sich die Welt ihr Weltgericht?“ by the taz of the 15.11.2012
  • -on the example Iraq see article „Systematische Folterung von Inhaftierten“ by the taz of the 13.01.2014

Sarah Luzia Hassel-Reusing
Thorner Str. 7
42283 Wuppertal (Germany)
human rights activist (has filed the charge of the 21.11.2012, file number OTP-CR 345/12)I

Mr. Leonidas Chrysanthopoulos
(our contact in Greece of coordination and translation of testimonies)

International Criminal Court
Information and Evidence Unit
Office of the Prosecutor
Post Office Box 19519
2500 CM The Hague
The Netherlands
or sent by facsimile to +31 70 515 8555

November 26, 2014

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NEW SCANDAL: ANEL Claims MPs Were Offered Bribes to Vote For New President (VIDEOS)

The leader of the Independent Greeks party (ANEL), Panos Kammenos, on Tuesday night claimed that members from the conservative New Democracy party attempted to bribe an MP from his party in the framework of securing her vote for upcoming election of a new President of the Hellenic Republic.

In a television interview Kammenos noted that three months ago a member of the New Democracy approached one of his MPs and offered her three million Euros in order to secure their vote.

(According to a report on ProtoThema -and the Kontra News Video BELOW- the MP's name is George Soukouri).

It should be reminded that the Greek Parliament is getting ready to vote for a new President of the Republic in March 2015 and the governing coalition is struggling to mass the required 180 votes that are needed in order to do so, or they will be forced to hold snap elections.

The MP, Stavroula Xoulidou, confirmed the information on a televised news show on Tuesday night. She told BlueSky Tv that she received a phone call from a member of the governing party and was offered a bribe that would have solved her economic problems "for life".

Unlike Kammenos, who was very specific about the sum, Xoulidou said that she was offered a bribe in the area of two to three million euros.

She then revealed that ANEL MP Panagiotis Melas had already accepted such a bribe. She said she uncovered this information via an email that was given to her by the ND member who offered her the bribe.

Upon hearing the news, Mr. Melas telephoned the news show and challenged Xoulidou to name the so-called MP so that he could sue him immediately for spreading malicious lies, and if she refused to do so then he would issue a lawsuit against her for involving his name.

He didn't have a chance to, following the news, and with the intent of not permitting a climate of mudslinging to hover over the Greek political scene, Supreme Court Prosecutor Efterpi Koutzamani re-opened a previous case that apparently involves the attempted bribery of politicians.

It should be recalled that in October the main opposition party SYRIZA had cited news reports which hinted that the New Democracy party was collecting bribes for MPs to secure 180 MPs to ultimately elect a President of the Republic from the current Parliament. The move prompted Koutzamani to order an urgent preliminary investigation into these serious allegations and to establish whether or not the crime of MP bribery had been committed. As we all know, the probe proved fruitless since there wasn't sufficient evidence to back up SYRIZA's claims, and rather turned out to be an attempted mud-slinging tactic by the main opposition to discredit the government.  (Read relevant article by clicking HERE)

References in Greek



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OPINION - Are Plans By Greek Officials To Purchase Israeli Drones A Moral Dilemma?

The Greek police is apparently eager to acquire unmanned aircraft from Israel in the framework of monitoring its borders as well as enhancing its policing efforts throughout the country says reporter Apostolis Fotiadis at PressProject, but there is a moral question involved as the technology under consideration has, most likely, been tested in combat situations in Gaza and elsewhere.

By Apostolis Fotiadis - The acquisition of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), or drones, by the Greek police will top the agenda during Wednesday’s visit to Israel by Public Order Minister Vassilis Kikilias.

According to a report in the Sunday To Vima newspaper, the government is mulling over the details of the ‘Kikilia's plan’ to create a network of drones, without however clarifying the details and how far the plan has developed. The new equipment will be employed to monitor the borders and to keep an eye on targets - either related to terrorism or high-level crime - within the country.

However, the antiquated way which anti-terrorism decrees are interpreted - in Greece and in many other European countries - raises questions as to who and how many targets will be monitored by these aircraft once they are deployed. Almost certainly they will delivered within 2015.

The purchase of the drones has been dubbed the ‘Kikilia's plan’ because he happens to be the minister now. But the idea for the purchase of drones by the Greek police predates his arrival at the ministry and was hatched many years before at a demonstration of drones organised by Frontex in Aktio on October 17- 21, 2011.

Indeed there was a fuss when it was later revealed in the press that the European organisation had paid for the expenses of the companies that took part in the presentation (Israel Aerospace Industries, Lockheed Martin, FAST Protect AG, L-3 Communications, FLIR Systems, SCOTTY Group Austria, Diamond Airborne Sensing, Inmarsat, Thales, AeroVision, AeroVironment, Altus, BlueBird) to transport and present their equipment to Greek as well as officials of other European police forces, meaning potential buyers.

Frontex had said at the time that the companies had received between  €10,000 to €198,000 to participate in the demonstration. Senior Frontex officials saw no wrongdoing in the promotion of these products since it is covered under the push to promote research and development in the domain of security. The European Commission held a similar position on the matter .

Two Israeli companies participated at Aktio with their own aircraft. Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) with the Heron model and a partnership between Israeli ‘BlueBird’ and Greek ‘Altus LSA’ presenting  ‘Spylite’.

This appeared to be the first time that Greek authorities expressed interest in the supply of drones, according to Kathimerini newspaper . The paper’s report said the presentation took place in February 2012 (instead of October which is the actual date). This was possibly because IAI delayed to upload the press release referring to its participation at the presentation. The paper said ‘the idea to purchase unmanned aircraft was hatched in the period when ‘The Indignados’ were gathering at Syntagma Square’ - in other words, a few months before the demonstration.

While in this report by Kathimerini last July, it appeared that the Greek police was interested in IAI’s  Heron model - a large aircraft that takes off and lands on a runway, the  model (not named) reported in To Vima ‘has a length of 1 to 4 metres, a flight radius  ranging from 30 to 300 km, a velocity of more than 40 km/hour and a surveillance capacity of over 1klm’ which can be transported with station bases and special launchers for taking off.

These specifications are very similar (though not identical) to those of Spylite model of Bluebird and with another two mini-UAV Bluebird models.

The To Vima report also came with a photo of an ‘airborne target’ model that takes off from a launcher - which Altus LSA participates in its production.

The airborne target-several photos of which are posted on the company’s site - is used in tests for terrestrial and airborne anti-aircraft systems but it is not an ‘unmanned aircraft’.

According to EU documents, the ALTUS LSA also appears as a partner of Greek police in a plan to deploy unmanned aircraft. On April 28 and 29 this year, a meeting was held in Athens, during Greece’s presidency, of the European Network of Law Enforcement Technology Services (ENLETS). The minutes at the  meeting stated clearly that “members of ENLETS were presented with the ‘pilot programme of unmanned aircraft for the monitoring of borders’ by the Greek police and Altus-LSA”.

Until now, there has been no official briefing or media reports about the existence of this programme  which has been described as  classified. The purchase of drones from an Israeli company by the Greek government carries with it the risk of acquiring equipment which uses technology that has been tested in repeated operations in Gaza.

The two versions presented to Greek police officials present this risk. It has been proven that an upgraded Heron model, Heron TP - Eitan  which has been designed as a bomber, took part in operations in the region. Similarly, all the mini-UAV of Bluebird are equipped with ‘combat proven’ technology,  according to the company. According to  the researcher David Cronin , this is the term used by companies to indicate that their equipment has been used by the Israeli army in monitoring and bombing operations.

The UN, Amnesty International and a host of other organisations have either accused or warned Israel that operations in Gaza could constitute war crimes. The moral issue does not concern just the Greek government but European authorities as well.

The completion of the project, which will cost dozens of millions of euros, will be co-funded by the new European Security Fund which has earmarked €1.4 bln for similar programmes. The monitoring of the EU’s borders is a strategic target of the Union and it is  being promoted in cooperation with member states.

The author, Apostolis Fotiadis, is a journalist and an independent researcher. His first book on the Militarization of European Immigration policy will be published soon.


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Authorities In Greece Investigate Suspected ISIS Gun Supply Routes

Greek police are investigating reports according to which criminal rings are transporting weapons from Albania to Jihadists involved in Islamic State activities in Syria via Greece.

According to Greek press reports, the probe was launched following the arrest of eight members of a suspected gun-running racket near Durres, on the Albanian coast, last Friday. The reports that followed also by the Albanian media indicating that Greece is on the smuggling route for the Syria-bound arms also forced Greek authorities to respond.

According to the reports, a raid was conducted by Albanian police last week in the town of Shijak which resulted in the arrest of eight suspects, aged between 18 and 44. During the arrests officials seized a large cache of weapons comprising of six Kalashnikov assault rifles, a Skorpion sub machine gun, six pistols, five hand grenades, two rifles and some 12,000 rounds of ammunition.

In a statement following the raid, a spokesman for the Albanian police said that the suspects are believed to be members of an international gun-running racket smuggling arms to Jihadists in Syria.

The apparent Greek connection was mentioned in Albanian media reports, which cited local police officials, and maintained that some of the arms were smuggled through Greece.

The same reports also noted that one of the alleged members of the racket, has been identified as Clirim X., a 39-year old who was convicted in Greece for armed robbery several years ago.

The report on Greece's STAR channel said that Albanian authorities are now searching for four more suspects, including two officials from Albania's Interior Ministry

More on this story in Greek on STAR TV

Catholic Bishop Refuses to Confirm Son of Priest Killer Mafia Boss

The Catholic Church in Italy has taken a stand against the mafia after a bishop refused to confirm a boy whose mob boss father had murdered a priest. Cardinal Paolo Romeo, the Archbishop of Palermo, refused to give the sacrament to the 17-year-old boy who was due to be confirmed along with other 49 youths.

It is believed that the boy is to receive the sacrament, but in private. "This does not mean that children must pay for their fathers' mistakes," Romeo said, and condemned the outrage sparked following his refusal to confirm the boy as "opportunistic". The boy's father, Giuseppe Graviano, was sentenced to life in prison after he had killed several people, including Father Pino Puglisi in 1993.

Puglisi's corpse was buried inside the cathedral where Graviano's son was due to receive the confirmation. Graviano, together with his brother Filippo, became members of the Commissione, or the Sicilian Mafia Commission, after they substituted mafioso Giuseppe Lucchese, who was in prison. The two brothers were among the mafia bosses behind the homicide of anti-mafia judges Paolo Borsellino and Giovanni Falcone.

The Commission is made of mob bosses who preside over matters concerning members of Cosa Nostra, the Sicilian mafia. Romeo's decision stirred up debate with some arguing that the Church's behaviour was inconsistent, as the niece of another mafia boss, Matteo Messina Denaro, was allowed to get married in the Palatine Chapel in Palermo. However, the Catholic Church said they were not aware of the link between the woman and Denaro.

According to Father Francesco Michele Stabile, who headed the commission that promoted the beatification of father Puglisi, Romeo's decision was necessary as the church had to send "a warning sign" to the Gravianos and society. He explained that the ruling of the Curia - formed by officials who assist in the decisions concerning the Catholic Church - was not "a discriminatory act against the boy.

We did not deny him the confirmation, but we won't allow the ceremony to be carried out in the place that holds the corpse of Father Pino, a symbol of resistance against mafia."


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Putin Looks Into Initiating UN Action on Protecting Christians in the M.East

Russia is currently considering the possibility of initiating a draft decision of the UN Human Rights Council on the protection of Christians in the Middle East and North Africa. Russian experts are now working on this document.

In addition, at the OSCE Ministerial Council in Basel on December 4-5, the Russian side will be calling for a thorough analysis of the processes leading to "Christianophobia" in the Middle East and the broader region. The scale of the problems demands the coordination of international efforts to protect Christians in the Middle East. Further initiatives, new measures and relevant discussions aimed at finding durable solutions in this regard are strongly needed. Of course, we believe that Europe, including the UK, should make its contribution to these efforts, taking into account the Christian roots of the European civilization, which are now often forgotten for the sake of political correctness.

Today the Middle East is at the very top of the international agenda. The wave of conflicts in the Arab world affects the interests not only of the region but also of the world's leading players and can have far-reaching consequences, including in the context of intercultural and inter-religious relations. The fate of the region's religious minorities is of the greatest concern. The mass exodus of Christians, who have been an integral part of the Middle Eastern mosaic for centuries, is particularly troubling.

The war in Syria between government forces and numerous extremist and terrorist groups is continuing. In fact, this country has been turned into a hotbed of international terrorism. Extremists, gathered from around the world, are causing chaos, destroying the cultural and demographic lifestyle that has been formed for centuries, creating an atmosphere of intolerance. The extremists in Syria aim at a genocide of ethno-religious minorities -- Christians, Alawites, Kurds.

You may know that ISIL (the Islamic State) has levied head tax on all Christians staying in the respective territories. Moreover, Christians are prohibited from building new and repairing old churches and monasteries. They cannot place crosses on their temples, organize services outside their cult buildings, ring bells or organize sacred processions, or distribute religious attributes or literature. Women are obliged to wear traditional Muslim clothes and cover their heads.

This is only the official policy. In reality, Christians have suffered torture, the shelling of residential areas, schools and other civilian targets, and hostage-taking. Such a situation brings the modern Syrian society, which has always been characterized by the peaceful and respectful co-existence of different ethnic and confessional groups, back to medieval times. All that is absolutely contrary to the true values of Islam as one of the major world religions.

Read more at RT


Germany's Fraport-Slentel consortium preferred bidder for 14 regional airports

German airport operator Fraport AG along with Greek energy group Copelouzos was named the preferred bidder to lease and operate 14 regional airports, the country's privatisation agency said on Tuesday.

Fraport and Slentel, a unit of Copelouzos group, offered 1.23 billion euros to bid for the operation of airport terminals at some of Greece's most popular tourist islands such as Rhodes, Corfu, Mykonos and Santorini.

The consortium also offered 22.9 million euros as a guaranteed annual payable lease, which will be adjusted annually for inflation.

The amount offered by the consortium was much higher than both the independent evaluation and the next best offer.

Argentina's holding company CASA (Corporation America) with Greek engineering firm Metka, and France's Vinci Airports SAS with Greek contractor AKTOR were the other two bidders whose financial offers were unsealed on Tuesday.


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