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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 16 September 2017
DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 16 SEPTEMBER 2017 7 NEWS Α standoff between the Greek government and the Canadian mining company Eldorado Gold ended on Wednesday when Minister of Energy George Stathakis pledged to grant the pending permits that had prevented the company's investment from going forward. On Monday Eldorado Gold had threatened to suspend all operations in Greece, due to the delays in acquiring routine permits, as well as the lack of clarity on an upcoming arbitration process. The decision caused a stir in Greece, coming a day after PM Alexis Tsipras expressed his government’s commitment to bringing foreign investment to the country. Considered to be the largest foreign investor in Greece, Eldorado (a company that mines copper, gold, lead, silver, and zinc) acquired the mines of Kassandra in Halkidiki for $2 billion in 2012 an has invested an additional $1 billion, according to its CEO George Burns, who made a statement saying that the company will not go forward with its planned new investments into its Olympias and Skouries projects and the Stratoni mine, unless it receives relevant permits. This statement was seen as an ultimatum, creating a chain reaction in Greek politics. The opposition accused the government of failing not only to attract new investors but to retain those already operating in the country. Seeking to diffuse tension, and thaw relations with the company, Minister Stathakis said that licensing for the Olympias project would be concluded immediately, with the other two to follow soon, while arbitration is processing according to schedule. The Minister's announcement came after dozens of Eldorado Gold employers protested outside the minis- Energy Minister responds to Eldorado Gold ultimatum to leave Greece The Canadian mining giant’s investment is secured, but only temporarily ‘Theophilos is Unworthy’ Greek Orthodox Christians in Jerusalem protest against the Patriarch who sold ‘holy’ land PHOTO: AAP VIA AP/NIKOLAS GIAKOUMIDIS, FILE try expressing their concern about losing their jobs; they were met by police firing tear gas at them. Eldorado claims to employ about 2,000 workers and promises to hire more for the new projects. Debate over the investment has been focusing on employment, however the mines have been the target of fierce and ongoing opposition by locals, who are concerned that the mines will ruin the landscape of pristine beaches and lush forests and destroy the region's tourist riches. Halkidiki is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Greece. Syriza had been one of the main opponents to the investment, before coming to power in 2015, but has since changed stance, and supports the investment, as long as it complies with environmental restrictions and is economically sound. The Energy Minister's decision to grant the Olympia permit was welcomed as "a positive step forward" by Mr Burns, who said that Eldorado is still waiting on permits for its other two projects. However, the pending permits are blocked for environmental reasons. Sixty per cent of the Skouries project has already been licensed, with the rest depending on the arbitration process, which will rule over the mining method. The court's decision will be crucial for the construcion of a smelter in Skouries. The flash smelting method proposed by Eldorado was not in the initial contract and is considered to be unsuitable for the Halkidiki project, given that it will release 20,000 tons of arsenic in the air annually, well above accepted levels, which is the reason behind the local community's ongoing campaign against the project. According to the 'Press Project', Eldorado Gold's proposition is based on modelling made for Fin- land; the miner has yet to produce an alternative, or to prove the suggested method's viability. If the smelter is not built, then the company will have to outsource this part of the procedure, which means that gold will not be actually produced in Greece, thus lowering the estimated income. The issue had caused the intervention of Canada's Trade Minister, Francois-Philippe Champagne, who revealed on Wednesday that he had sent a letter to Minister Stathakis in March addressing the "troublesome" permit delays and stating that Eldorado has done "everything it can in order to comply with local laws and regulations”. Speaking to Reuters about his intervention, the Canadian minister said: "We want to ensure a good trading relationship. Canada is a G7 country and when Canada speaks people listen". Mycenaean-era tomb the size of a small house discovered in central Greece Archaeologists have discovered an undisturbed Mycenaean-era tomb, one of the biggest of its type, in the south-central town of Orchomenos. The chamber-like tomb, which is reported to be the size of a small house is believed to be the house of a Bronze Age nobleman, with a fondness for jewelry, given that it contained pottery vessels sheathed in tin, bronze horse bits, jewellery, bow fittings, and arrowheads. The discovery, a result of a joint excavation led by the Culture Ministry of Greece and the British School at Athens and Cambridge, is the ninth-biggest discovery of its kind, among the 4,000 engraved tombs discovered in the past 150 years. The ministry said in a statement on Monday that the 42-square-metre tomb is believed to have only been used once, which is a rarity, considering that most such tombs were reused over many years, during which older objects were jumbled up or pilfered. Palestinian Muslims and Greek Orthodox Christians joined their voices in protest on Saturday, expressing their objection to the Greek Orthodox Patriarch Theophilos' decision to sell property of historical and religious significance. According to the Palestinian Wafa news agency, the protest, which took place outside of the Jaffa Gate entrance to occupied East Jerusalem's Old City, was the result of an initiative taken by the Palestinian Arab Greek Orthodox community, which called for the resgination of Patriarch Theophilos and his synod and their replacement by a Palestinian Arab clergy. Holding banners reading ‘Theophilos is Unworthy’ around 300 protesters (as estimated by the Israeli 'Ha'aretz'), accused the Patriarchate of ‘treason’, thus condemning the decision to sell or lease church property in Jerusalem, Jaffa, Nazareth, and other areas to Jewish Israeli investors. Protesters noted that the Greek Orthodox church, one of the largest real estate owners in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory, has a responsibility to protect Palestinian lands, and not hand them over to Israeli developers, effectively contributing to Israeli plans to ‘Judaise’ Jerusalem, the Jewish Press reports. Usually, this accusation of ‘Jewification’, is used to describe the sale of traditionally Arab neighbourhoods in Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem, but according to 'Ha'aretz', this time the protests is about central Jerusalem areas, Nayot, Talbieh, and Rehavia, which have been under Israeli rule since 1948. 'Ha'aretz' was critical of the protest, stating that "the Greek church is run by exclusively Greek clergy who minister to an exclusively Arab congregation", which watches "helplessly" as their religious leaders (most notably former Patriarch Irinaios, who was ousted in 2005, accused of corruption) have been selling property to Jewish people. Oil slick spreading in the Saronic Gulf Ecological disaster forces Athens beaches to close PHOTO: GREEK MINISTRY OF CULTURE Α small tanker sank in the Saronic Gulf last Sunday, causing an oil slick that has been difficult to contain. The vessel, Agia Zoni II, was carrying 2,500 tons of fuel oil and 370 tons of marine gas; it went down near the island of Salamina, dumping its content to the waters. The oil slick expanded from Salamina to the broader Saronic Gulf area, contaminating several beaches on the southern suburbs of Athens. Authorities have been trying to break up and collect the heavy fuel, with vessels dispatched both to the sea area and the contaminated beaches, but have had little success. According to the mayor of Salamina, Isidora NannouPapathanasiou, the environmental and economic damage to the island is immense and the manpower allocated is insufficient. “This is a major environmental disaster,” he stressed. “Clearly the danger [of pollution] was not properly gauged, the currents have moved the spill.” Meanwhile, WWF Greece ex- pressed dismay that “a country with heavy tanker traffic has proven unable to protect its beaches from an initially small-scale incident”. “Nobody thought the slick would reach us,” Glyfada mayor Yiorgos Papanikolaou told Skai TV. “If someone had warned us even on Tuesday, we would have taken precautions.” What had been thought to be a containable spill is being described by officials as an ecological disaster after thick tar and oil pollution drifted toward residential coastal areas. By Thursday, four days after the 45-year-old tanker sank, mayors of suburbs south of the capital were forced to close beaches, citing public health risks. “This leak happened near the country’s biggest harbour [Piraeus], just miles away from the operation centre of the ministry tasked with addressing such disasters,” Dimitris Ibrahim, campaign director at Greenpeace Greece, told local news site In.gr.
09 September 2017