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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 14 May 2016
20 THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 14 MAY 2016 DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM Losing the artisans of central Athens GEORGIOS HATZIMANOLIS In his small workshop in central Athens, Georgios Nikolaou takes a seat on a replica Louis Vuitton trunk, which he made himself, and slowly peels some adhesive from his sticky fingers. Well past the normal retirement age, Georgios has continued running his little business in Psiri because he loves his craft. But after more than five decades, the time has come to shut shop, he now says, and with this closure one more old Athenian artisan will disappear from an area that was once full of them. "Business is so slow, there is just no point remaining open, it's time for me to accept retirement and the fact that this business, which I have kept alive with hard work and sacrifice, will close its doors for good," Georgios explained. Originally from Lamia, he moved to Athens in his teens and worked as an apprentice with other craftsmen on Aiolou Street, not far from where his current shop is now. After completing his service in the military, Georgios returned to Psiri and started his own business manufacturing trunks. Things started off well, with business booming, because just as there is now, there were many Greeks departing their villages and towns in search of a better life in foreign lands. "When I started this job, there was mass migration towards Australia and Germany, but mostly to Australia. At that time we had so much work, because whoever was about to leave took one or two chests with them to store their belongings before they left for Australia. We had a lot of orders, but now we only have a few." Georgios says it's sad that craftsmen like himself are slowly disappearing, and says slow business and young people's reluctance to enter such professions means skills such as his could be lost forever. "Manual labour is not preferred nowadays because labour is difficult and one has to work 15 hours a day in order to make a decent living." He says such a meagre living is not enough for the youth of today, who all dream of lavish lifestyles. A few hundred metres away, also in the tourist hub of Psiri, is the world-famous Melissinos Art-The Poet Sandal Maker, where Pan- telis Melissinos shares similar thoughts on Greek youth's disinclination for manual labour. "We put effort, sweat and blood into crafting our sandals. Earlier today I was hammering when I accidentally hammered the nail in my finger and there was blood. So we put our soul into crafting these sandals. Young people nowadays do not really want to do something like that. They kind of prefer the easy solution." He says young Greeks today prefer to play on their smartphones while drinking frappé and, with what he calls an inept government, it won't get any better soon, he fears. "In addition, the situation in Greece has reached such levels that the politicians want to eradicate small enterprises, as well Pantelis Melissinos at his grandfather’s iconic leather sandal shop in Psiri, Athens. Ioanna, a true artisan, is known for her impecably manufactured ballet and dancing shoes. Hillary Clinton’s son-in-law faces loss on Greek hedge fund bet The son-in-law of US presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has reportedly lucked out on a hedge fund based on the prospect of a Greek economic revival. According to a report by Fortune magazine, the fund titled Eaglevale Hellenic Opportunity is likely to be closed by the founder of the hedge fund firm Eaglevale Partners, Marc Mezvinsky. Two sources, who reportedly approached The New York Times, revealed that the decision to close the fund followed a significant loss of close to 90 per cent of its value. Created with a view to benefit investors based on the possibility of a revival of the Greek economy following on from the crisis, while up and running the fund managed to raise an estimated US$25 million. This money was then being used for the purchase of stocks from Greek banks and government debt. While some investors did benefit, others, based on the timing of their bets, didn’t have as much luck. Mezvinsky and the two other founders of the hedge fund firm are former Goldman Sachs employees. Greek regional airports to receive €1 billion boost German firm Fraport has announced it will be investing more than €1 billion, including the hiring of additional staff, at the 14 regional airports it has taken under its wing, reports Kathimerini. The news was revealed by the head of Fraport Group, Stefan Schulte, who appeared on Skai TV on Tuesday evening, during which he rejected claims that his company ever withdrew their commitment from the agreement. “All of last year we had intensive discussions with [state sell-off fund] TAIPED and the government. We were always committed to this investment. We clearly said that we believed in Greece, and we continue to believe in Greece,” he said. Schulte also denied that the airports were taken on at a bargain price, claiming that Fraport’s consortium had merely made the best bid. Optimistic about the future, he said that Fraport has plans to invest €300 million in the first few years to assist in improving the airports’ operations, adding that “in the long-term we will invest more than €1 billion.” While Fraport is officially manag- ing the regional airports, Schulte was keen to clarify that it is the Greek state which remains the owner, giving it access to one-third of the consortium’s annual profits. “Governments always earn more in the end than if they operated the airports themselves,” he said.
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