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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 17 December 2016
GREECE 20 THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 17 DECEMBER 2016 Get a room My big fat Greek newsweek NIKOS FOTAKIS Is Greece heading for another election? Nobody in their right minds wants that to happen, but again, right minds are not very easy to find in the country today. The SYRIZA government certainly doesn't want a new election, as it is almost certain that it will lose, thus reducing the 'first-time left' governance to a sad, tumultuous parenthesis in Greek politics. The opposition, for all its talk, certainly doesn't want an election, as it has every reason in the world to wait until (a) the economy is better and (b) Alexis Tripras’ approval ratings go even lower, in order to reap the benefits, avoiding the 'hot potato' of implementing itself the harsh measures included in the latest version of the memorandum. And yet, Tsipras gave what should account as a pre-election speech on Tuesday, while visiting the small border island of Nisyros, dismissing as "foolish technocrats" those who oppose his government's decision to use the budget surplus to offer a one-time Christmas bonus to hard-hit pensioners on the lower side of the income spectrum. After this brash attack on the critique of the IMF and the other lenders, he went on to promise tax breaks to the residents of the islands that have to deal with the wave of refugees from Turkey, exempting them from the Value Added Tax. For all his bellicose rhetoric and election-like promises, his speech gained attention mostly for the surprising expression of affection towards his partner in government, leader of the right wing 'Independent Greeks' party, Panos Kammenos. Describing how, being a 'leftist fighter' he had dismissed Kammenos as an entitled right-wing 'wuss', he then praised him for his political acumen. The Greek people's response to this public display of affection was a kind of collective "get a room", shouted at their TV screens, but for the PM this was probably an opportunity to practice his wooing skills, before his Friday meeting with Angela Merkel in Berlin. The German chancellor might have bigger problems to face, as Donald Trump's victory resulted in her being handed the mantle of 'Leader of the Free World', a role she has to put on hold for a while, in order to tend to the needs of the two men fighting for her affections: Tsipras, and her finance minister, Wolfgang Schauble. The latter is, predictably, the sole (but very large) obstacle in Tsipras' not-as-ambitious-asit-sounds social policy. And yet, Greece is, once again, facing a freeze on the muchneeded package of debt relief measures, as its creditors expressed concerns for this payout to pensioners, deeming it as contrary to the terms of the bailout agreement signed in 2015. Not everyone thinks so; both French President Francois Hollande and Financial Affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici expressed support for Greece, the latter stating: "We think the decision taken on debt relief is robust, was taken on the basis of Greece's compliance with the first review, and therefore there is no reason to question it." He then went on to imply that "only one country" raised an issue with Greece's policy announcement. Which brings us to the first question. The only person who is in a position to push for elections in Greece is the German finance minister. But even he should agree that it may be difficult to find a government that would impose austerity with the zeal that Tsipras has. This, in fact, has been the main trait of the self-proclaimedleftist government. That it can impose policies that otherwise would never be palatable. It is no wonder that the opposition did not even dispute the pension handouts, voting 'present' in the parliament, in what was otherwise a fiery session that had MPs engaging in the mandatory, verbal abuse that is now part of the parliamentary protocol. It is all wordplay. As was the recent remark of Kostas Zouraris. Among the noise that dominates public discussion, the flamboyant intellectual, recently appointed deputy minister of education, all but stated that Greece can pretty much afford to lose an island or two to Turkey. Coming out of anyone else's mouth, this remark would have caused an uproar. Now, it all blew out quickly. At this point, we're used to empty statements and nonsense. DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM Archaeologists discover 2,500-year-old lost Greek city Mystery surrounds why a hill 300km north of Athens was never before explored and documented A 2,500-year-old lost city has been discovered by archaeologists in Greece some 300 km north of Athens. The ruins are in a village called Vlochos, and while some were known, they were until now considered to be apart of a settlement on a hill, reports the website Independent. Now a team of researchers from the Universities of Gothenburg and Bournemouth and the Ephorate of Antiquities of Karditsa has turned its attention to the site, and are being led by Robin Ronnlund. "A colleague and I came across the site in connection with another project last year, and we realised the great potential right away," Mr Ronnlund said. And it would seem they were on to something, having since found remains of towers, walls and city gates on both the summit and slopes of the hill, along with ancient pottery and coins that date as far back as 500BC. In its search, Mr Ronnlund said the team is hoping to avoid the use of excavation, and instead are using new and progressive methods including a ground-penetrating Clearly visible from the air are fortress walls, towers and city gates. PHOTO: BIZZNEWS.GR radar that protects the site and leaves it in the same condition it was found. So far the city is believed to have developed from the fourth to third century BC, following which it was abandoned. While the reasons for this remain unknown, given the estimated dates, it could have been due to the Roman conquest that took place in the area. "Very little is known about ancient cities in the region, and many researchers have previously believed that western Thessaly was somewhat of a backwater during antiquity," Mr Ronnlund said. "Our project therefore fills an important gap in the knowledge about the area and shows that a lot remains to be discovered in the Greek soil. "The fact that nobody has ever explored the hill before is a mystery." Katerina Vrana, funniest woman in the world The London-based comedian came third among 89 participants in an international competition "I'm officially the funniest woman in the world − it's fine, guys, you can touch me," joked Katerina Vrana, thanking everyone who voted for her in a triumphant video that ended with the phrase "I'll have to go inside, or else I'll die". She wasn't exaggerating − much. She was standing in the freezing cold, in Lapland, where the final of the Laugh Factory international comedy competition was being held. People were skiing behind her, while she was thanking her fans, wearing a T-shirt. "I don't know why I'm doing this, I thought it would be really funny -- I'm freezing", she laughed. For all the freezing environment, Katerina Vrana is hot in the comedy world and this distinction serves as proof. Held by the US chain of comedy clubs, Laugh Factory (a colossal enterprise in the comedy universe, comprising of numerous venues, a magazine, and website), the international comedy compe- tition saw 89 participants from 56 countries engaging in irreverent, hilarious wordplay. Australia was represented by Celia Pacquola and Michael Shafar, who apparently didn't make it past the first round. Apart from crowning "the best comedian in the world", the purpose of the competition was to showcase the diverse nature of comedy and celebrate the art form as a tool for diplomacy. "Laughter brings people closer, succeeding where diplomacy and democracy have failed. It is a universal language. This event highlights an alternative ambassador − the kind that brings diplomacy through a belly laugh," stated the website. For the record, this ambassadorship (and the $100,000 that goes with it) went to Harith Iskander from Malaysia. But for Greeks all over the world, it’s the person who came third that is important, winning the world with her hilarious account of her experience of being a Greek in the UK (and the culture clash that ensues).
10 December 2016
24 December 2016