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Bounce Back Greece!

 

Vladimir Putin’s visit coincides with a period during which “Greece has turned a page and looks to the future with optimism”, said Greek Prime Minister .

Know what that means , just by a glance

Go to our Special Page   , Putin in Greece, May 2016, by Greek to me!

So Greek to me!

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#Putin @tsipras_eu Memorandums singed in #Athens,

On this transitional critical  moment, our strategic cooperation with Russia is of extremely importance, said Alexis  Tsipras , on historical meeting with President Putin

On his first trip to a European Union country this year, Russian President Vladimir Putin traveled to Greece Friday to visit a secluded Christian Orthodox monastic sanctuary and eye energy and privatization deals in the cash-strapped country.

Putin has made only a handful of visits to EU countries since sanctions were imposed on Moscow two years ago in response to the Ukraine crisis.

07122ca09d80a93b15fd811cd8b32aa6_400x400 Visit our Full Coverage by Gree2m on Twitter 

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Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived at the Greek government headquarters in the Maximos Mansion at 18:25 on Friday, after a short walk from the presidential palace, where he was met by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on the steps leading up to the building. Putin was accompanied by the foreign ministers of Greece and Russia and the rest of the Russian delegation.

 

Russian President Vladimir Putin was received by President of the Hellenic Republic Prokopis Pavlopoulos at the presidential mansion on Friday, immediately after his arrival in Greece, beginning the first of a series of meetings with Greek officials during his two-day visit.
“You visit to Greece comes at a crucial time, not only for our region but for all of Europe,” Pavlopoulos said as he met the Russian president on his arrival.
“Close cooperation between Russia, the United States and the European Union to end the war in Syria is exceptionally important for our time,” the Greek president added.
Responding, Putin said it was time to “proceed with specific steps in order to exploit the opportunities that exist for strengthening bilateral relations,” while noting an impressive increase in Russian tourists visiting Greece.

On Saturday, Russian President Vladimir Putin will go to the Monastery of St. Panteleimon, which is inhabited by Russian monks on the western coast of the peninsula.

Patriarch Kirill

Patriarch Kirill of Moscow, center, arrives to the port of Dafni, at Mount Athos, Greece, Friday, May 27, 2016, a day ahead of Russia’s President Putin’s visit. Russia’s president is due in financially struggling Greece Friday for a state visit that will include a trip to a 1,000-year-old, all-male Orthodox Christian sanctuary in the north of the country. (AP Photo/Darko Bandic)

Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia Kirill arrived on Friday at 10:45 at Macedonia airport of Thessaloniki and left straight for his  pilgrimage visit to Mount Athos.

Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Amanatidis and Deputy Interior Minister Maria Kollia-Tsarouha welcomed the Patriarch with whom they had a brief meeting before his departure for Ouranoupolis and the monastic community of Mt. Athos.
Metropolitan of Kassandria Nikodimos and the Consulate General of Russia in Thessaloniki Alexey Popov were also present at the reception ceremony.

The Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia will visit Thessaloniki on Sunday and will make a pilgrimage at the Cathedral of Aghios Dimitrios and afterwards will attend the liturgy at the Aghios Grigorios of Palamas Cathedral.

In his statement Amanatidis pointed out the relations that bind the Greek and the Russian people adding that “we all expect with hope the message that will send the Holy and Great Synod and the heads of the Orthodox Churches that will be held on Crete in June in a world that is plagued by huge social problems underling the role of the Patriarch as a factor of the Orthodoxy’s stability.

This year marks the 1,000th anniversary of the first recorded settlement there by Russian monks, in 1016. While most of Mount Athos’ 1,500 monks are Greek-born, male Orthodox Christians are allowed to live on the peninsula as monks, which male followers of other religions can visit but not live on. The 20 monasteries on the peninsula include one Russian, one Serbian and one Bulgarian, while Romanians, Moldovans, Ukrainians and Georgians also live there.

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The Holy Mount Athos

Mount Athos occupies almost the whole of the Athos Peninsula and is declared by UNESCO a World Heritage Site. It is one of the most unusual places in the world and the only self-governing part of the Greek State, governed by the “Holly Community”. It is a community of priests based in Karyes that follows the Julian Calendar, along with other Byzantine edicts and mores. The Holy Mountain (as it is in Greek) consists of 20 monasteries, 12 sketes and about 700 houses, cells of hermitages.

The monasteries themselves are true masterpieces of traditional Macedonian and Byzantine architecture. Inside there is an unimaginable wealth of unique treasures, religious frescoes, rare mosaics and libraries full of arte facts including miniatures, books, codices and manuscripts.

Only men are allowed entrance into Mount Athos and all are required to obtain a special entrance valid for a limited period. Women can view the monasteries from a cruise along the west coast of Mount Athos.

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Τhree Day Celebrations in #Athens for the centennial of the #PontianGenocide, @PanosKammenos

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This year’s Thursday, May 19, marked the 100th anniversary of the Pontian Greek genocide by the Turks, that took place between 1916-1923, the most tragic page of Pontian Greek history.

“Will the outrageous terrorising, the cruel torturing, the driving of women into the harems, the debauchery of innocent girls, the sale of many of them at eighty cents each, the murdering of hundreds of thousands and the deportation to, and  and starvation in, the deserts of other hundreds of thousands, the destruction of hundreds of villages and cities, will the wilful execution of this whole devilish scheme to annihilate the Armenian, Greek and Syrian Christians of Turkey — will all this go unpunished?” – Henry Morgenthau, United States ambassador to Turkey, 1918

The Pontiac genocide was a mass slaughter that is but one chapter in the murderous campaign by the Ottoman Empire against Christians. In Pontus alone, it is estimated that some 350,000 Greeks were killed who were totally deprived of the Black Sea region, their native land.

Here is an overview of the Pontian genocide from the Pontian Greek Society of Chicago:

With the commencement of World War I in 1914, Turkey called for general mobilization. Since the Christian men were not allowed to bare arms, they were sent to labor battalions in the interior of Turkey, which were essentially “battalions of death.” Forced labor in the treacherous mountains and ravines, hunger, and exposure to severe weather conditions killed most of those forced to serve in these labor battalions. Some of those who survived were able to escape to join those Greeks in the mountains who took up arms to protect themselves and their families. After eliminating a significant part of the male population, the Young Turk leaders and later Kemal Ataturk, proceeded to eliminate the rest of the Greek population including the elderly, women, and children. Their plan was to deport the Greek population to the interior and expose them to severe weather conditions, hunger, and illness. Censorship was used quite effectively to avoid headlines in the foreign press. After executing many prominent Greeks in the western Pontus, the Turks proceeded to deport a large part of the Greek population to the interior, Kurdistan, and as far as Syria…

By 1923, out of an approximate 700,000 Pontian Greeks who lived in Turkey at the beginning of World War I, as many as 350,000 were killed, and almost all the rest had been uprooted during the subsequent forced population exchange between Greece and Turkey. This was the end of one of the ancient Greek civilizations in Asia Minor. As a consequence of the deliberate and systematic policy of Turkification of the Ottoman Empire, it is estimated that more than 2.75 million Armenians, Assyrians and Greeks were slaughtered outright or were victims of the “white death” of disease and starvation — a result of the routine process of deportations, slave labor, and death marches.

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“A vicious campaign of horror, the Pontian genocide”, writes this year’s HALC article, of which each generation must learn, so that the memory of those who perished lives eternal.

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“Today, Friday, 20th of May 2016, the Ministry of National Defense, is welcoming with honors of the Head of the State the holy icon of Panagia Soumela ,symbol of Orthodoxy and the Greeks of Asia Minor and Pontos” Defense Minister Panos Kammenos stated

In 1922, when Greeks of Asia Minor and Pontus were driven from the lands of their ancestors, the monks hid the icon of Panagia Soumela that is believed to have been painted by Evangelist Luke. According to Orthodox Church tradition, the miraculous icon of Panagia Soumela was earlier found at the end of the fourth century A.D. in a cave at Mt. Mela, where it had miraculously, by Christian tradition,  been transferred by angels.

Παναγιά Σουμελά

The Minister of Defense thanked the Presidnt of Panagia Soumela Foundation President Giorgos Tanimanidis for “a religious relic of inestimable value.”

This year, on Saturday, May 21, 2016, the great Celebration Event will start in Dionysiou Areopagitou Street at 11am and will culminate at 8:30pm in the Temple of Olympian Zeus, to honor the Greeks of Pontus continuing the tradition and culture with the involvement of future generations to maintain their Pontian roots and heritage

Kammenos said that on that day, like every year, the Presidential Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, will don the traditional Pontian uniforms to honor the heroes of the Pontian Greek genocide

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Source: Greek media coverage, and the  HALC blog

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Migrant arrivals’ drop 90% in Greece, undercover agents come, EU-Turkey deal is the one

 

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Europol agents on the Greek islands 

Till the end of June , up to 50  ‘guest officers’ will be deployed by Europol on rotation at key points on the external border of the EU to strengthen the security checks on the inward flows of migrants, in order to identify suspected terrorists and criminals, a EUROPOL press release announced.

They will help reinforce security at the external borders of the EU by

  • supporting the secondary security check process,
  • by cross-checking data against data held in specialist counter-terrorist and other databases at Europol, and
  • by facilitating rapid and secure information exchange between Member States.

This will not include first line border control, although the officers will work closely with those from Frontex involved in such a task. The officers will work under the responsibility and legal framework of the country of deployment.

Europol’s Management Board  approved the recruitment of up to 200 counter-terrorist and other investigators for deployment to migration hotspots in Greece and other countries, EUROPOL press release said, adding that . Europol will form this pool of law enforcement officers through their secondment from national services in EU Member States.

Undercover agents  already arrived

On previous weeks, the Slovenian director of Europol’s newly-established European Migrant Smuggling Center (EMSC)  Robert Crepinko, had told on an interview  that  10 undercover officers had already been  stationed on the islands of Chios, Samos, Lesvos and Leros where refugee registration centers are in operation, as well as in Piraeus Port,  doing secondary security checks to assess the possibly dangerous migrants before they would enter the EU

Crepinko added that the Europol agents would also offer aid to the Greek authorities, in the effort to locate and stop migrant smugglers operating in Greece. 

New trafficking migration routes in Europe

The Slovenian official said that “We are looking into possible new routes that the migrant smuggling networks would use and we already have some developments in the new routes that have been used by organized crime,” , citing information that migrant traffickers are exploring options through Albania and Bulgaria.

 

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Arrivals drop in Greece , rise in Italy

“The drop in the number of arrivals on the Greek islands was dramatic.” Frontex chief Fabrice Leggeri said on Friday , presenting the data of  90 percent drop on the number of migrants arriving in the Greek islands  in April, compared to the previous month.

But for the first time in a year, the latest UN figures present more migrants arriving in Italy than Greece, trying to make their way into Europe

 9,149 migrants arrived to the shores of Italy in April,  while Greece received 3,462 people, figures of the UN’s refugee agency show.

Fewer than 2,700 people had entered in April.the European Union’s border agency Frontex said Friday,  putting  the drop down to the effect of the EU’s migrant agreement with Turkey and tight border controls at the Greek -FYROM border.

In March, before the EU-Turkey deal came into force, under which Ankara pledged to take back migrants from Greece, 26,971 people arrived to Greece, while 9,676 arrived to Italy.

Different countries of origin 

But migrants arriving in Italy are not coming from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, the three major groups trying their luck through Greece.

Asylum seekers making their way through the Mediterranean are primarily from Nigeria, Gambia, Somalia and other Sub-Saharan African nations.

Concerns that migrants will increasingly take the Italian route have prompted fears of another mass influx, leading Austria to plan to restrict access through the its Brenner border crossing with Italy, the eurobserver wrote.

The EU Commission has expressed concern over the effect this could have on the viability of the passport-free Schengen zone.

 

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Transport and tourism harmed say MEPs

Several MEPs at the European Parliament Plenary in Strasbourg.on Wednesday May 11, demanded, addressing to the European Commissioner on Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos, the lift of “intermediate steps of Schengen roadmap”, and warned the  Commissioner that the internal border checks  could seriously harm both transport and tourism in Europe.

Avramopoulos : there is no Plan B

 Rumors  that move EU – Turkey agreement focus form Turkey to Greece as a “plan b”, are not real

the  European Commissioner on Migration Dimitris Avramopoulos answered to the European Parliament and underled  that there is only one plan based on solidarity and tackling of traffickers on EU – Turkey deal implementations. Avramopoulos stressed that  “rumours can do only harm” .

“till the end of the year”

These border checks are “exceptional and temporary” European Commissioner said, assuring the MEPs  that the aim is to lift them by the end of the year, at the latest

This happened on parallel, on the same day that  President of the European Parliament was announcing the No to to Turkey’s visa liberalisation

 

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Martin Schultz: I stopped Visa process

“The Turkish Parliament has not yet fulfilled and I stopped the process”, said Martin Schulz, explaining why the Commission sent to the European Parliament the 72 visa liberalisation benchmarks of which  seven , he said  are not yet met .“This is a point of disagreement, we should not hide it,” Martin Schulz added talking to the reporters on a press conference with the Turkish Minister of European Union Affairs.This happened on parallel, on the same day that  President of the European Parliament was announcing the No to to Turkey’s visa liberalisation

Martin Schulz said that

the scope of Turkey’s anti-terror laws were “so far reaching that we think that some of the measures are touching not directly the fight against terrorism but, for example, the freedom of expression and of media.”

The EU-Turkey deal in dangerous moments

“We are trying to save the package,”  Volkan Bozkır, the Turkish Minister of European Union Affairs and Chief Negotiator told the reporters .

Volkan Bozkır described as parts of the package the opening of chapters, the €3 billion plus €3 billion, energy platforms, economy and customs union and also EU – Turkey readmission agreement

The deal between the EU and Turkey to end the migrant crisis is facing “a very dangerous moment”  Turkey’s EU Affairs Minister Volkan Bozkir said,  heightening more tension between the two sides in honoring the deal, whie Europe is seeing the recent encouraging results

 

 

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Doctors Without Borders, #MSF, pulls out of World Humanitarian Summit, #WHS

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The UN expects 6,000 people at a historic humanitarian conference in Istanbul later this month. But one prominent participant has dropped out.

The international medical organisation, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF or Doctors Without Borders), announced today, May 5, 2016 that it is not going to the World Humanitarian Summit. In a statement, MSF said it was pulling out “with disappointment”, after months of preparatory discussions. MSF believes the summit may let those most responsible for spiralling humanitarian need – governments – off the hook. The summit has lost its way and become, in MSF’s opinion, “a fig-leaf of good intentions”.

A spokesman for the UN’s emergency aid coordination body, OCHA, Herve Verhoosel, told IRINNEWS.ORG the move was “disappointing”, given MSF’s “strong and influential voice”.

This is the first discussion comments of Facebook, instantly after the announcement, starting by Peter Bouckaert, Emergency Director at Human Rights Watch

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  • MSF, one of the world’s most respected and courageous humanitarian organizations, has decided to pull out of the upcoming UN World Humanitarian Summit, saying the summit will not address issues of crucial importance such as the need for UN reform, the lack in global emergency response capacity, and the muddling of emergency response and development agendas. They feel the agenda will let governments who cause major humanitarian crises and obstruct humanitarian responses off the hook.

    “I don’t think this is ‘toys out of the pram’; I think MSF is desperately frightened to consistently find itself alone in trying to respond to needs that far overwhelm MSF.”

     

    Meghan Rose “I think MSF is desperately frightened to consistently find itself alone in trying to respond to needs that far overwhelm MSF.” The strange thing is everyone feels this way, no? I wonder why everyone else keeps repeating/keeping an exhaustive pattern that only brings harm/more crazy making to the situation.

    Peter N. Bouckaert The difference is that MSF is frequently the only humanitarian actor responding to overwhelming needs in the most dangerous places. That was the case at the height of the CAR crisis (with ICRC and ACF) and is the case in Syria. We may all feel overwhelmed, but that doesn’t mean that we are all there on the front lines with them.

    So who is going to fight for doing the right thing? I don’t get the reasoning behind this. The same as I didn’t get the reasoning behind them and other NGOs pulling out of camps for political reasons. NGOs are supposed to be non political.

     

     

    GO to our earlier story, by moodhackerblog

 

One after the other NGOs pull out of #Lesvos hotspots  sending strong message to EU

As humanitarian crisis was unfolding at the Athens port of Piraeus, where thousands of asylum seekers and migrants were stranded…