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2007-10-31

Turkey is the problem this time of year

Posted By Rachel Alexander On October 28, 2007 at 11:43 pm

As the U.S. strains to support the fledgling Iraqi government, countering internal battles as well as threats from Iran in the east and Syria in the west, another threat is emerging, Turkey from the north. And like Afghanistan in the past, the players involved have switched roles. The Kurds, who were gassed in massive numbers by Saddam Hussein, are now the aggressors. Specifically, the PKK, a Marxist-nationalist group of Kurds considered a terrorist organization by the U.S. and European Union. The PKK has launched attacks inside Turkey, killing police and military with mines and bombs. Turkey has begun attacking back, although its strikes have not yet crossed the boundary into Iraq.


So far the U.S. hasn't interfered with the PKK, not wanting to create further instability within Iraq. But it hasn't denounced Turkey either. Turkey is a democracy, an asset to the U.S. in the Middle East. The reason the PKK is attacking Turkey is because it doesn't like Kurds being assimilated into a democracy, the PKK believes they should be a separate nation.

Fortunately, the solution may lie with Turkey itself, and will not involve more U.S. manpower. A few surgical strikes by Turkey on the PKK's military operations could quell the uprising, like Israel's targeted strikes did to Hezbollah in Lebanon last year. But it would probably need to happen before the next U.S. presidential election. If Hillary Clinton is elected, she has said she intends to leave U.S troops in Iraq beyond the current mission to protect the Kurds. What she means by "protect" however will probably benefit the PKK, which hurts Turkey and could spur a revolt of its Kurdish population.


Article printed from The Loft: http://www.gopusa.com/theloft

2007-10-30

U.S. House of Reps FYROM Resolution

Resolution

110th Congress, 1st Session
In the House of Representatives

Resolution

Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) should stop the utilization of materials that violate provisoins of the United Nations-brokered Interim Agreement between the FYROM and Greece regarding "hostile activities or propaganda" and should work with the United Nations and Greece to achieve longstanding United States and United Nations policy goals of finding a mutually-acceptable official name for the FYROM.

Whereas on April 8, 1993, the United Nations General Assembly admitted as a member of the Former Yugloslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), under the name the "Former Yugloslav Republic of Macedonia";

Whereas United Nations Security Council Resolution 817 (1993) states that the dispute over the name must be resolved to maintain peaceful relations between Greece and the FYROM;

Whereas on September 13, 1995, Greece and the FYROM signed a United Nations-brokered Interim Accord that, among other things, commits them to not "support claims to any part of the territory of the other party or claims for a change of their existing frontiers";

Whereas a pre-eminent goal of the United Nations Interim Accord was to stop the FYROM from utilizing, since its admittance to the United Nations in 1993, what the Accord calls, "propaganda," including in school textbooks;

Whereas a television report in recent years showed students in a state-run school in the FYROM still being taught that parts of Greece, including Greek Macedonia, are rightfully part of the FYROM:

Whereas some textbooks, including the Military Academy textbook published in 2004 by the Military Academy "General Mihailo Apostolski" in the FYROM capital city, contain maps showing that a "Greater Macedonia" extends many miles south into Greece to Mount Olympus and miles east to Mount Pirin in Bulgaria;

Whereas in direct contradiction of the spirit of the United Nations Interim Accord's section "A," entitled "Friendly Relations and Confidence Building Measures," which attempts to eliminate challenges regarding "historic and cultural patrimony," the Government of FYROM recently renamed the capital city's international airport "Alexander the Great";

Whereas the aforementioned acts constitute a breach of the FYROM's international obligations deriving from the spirit of the United Naitons Interim Acord, which provides that FYROM should abstain from any form of "propaganda" against Greece's historical or cultural heritage;

Whereas such acts are not compatible with the Article 10 of the United Nations Interim Accord regarding "improving understanding and good neighborly relations," as well as with European standards and values endorsed by European Union member-states; and

Whereas this information, like that exposed in the media report and elsewhere, being used contrary to the United Nations Interim Accord instills hostility and a rationale for irredentism in portions of the populations of the FYROM toward Greece and the history of Greece: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That the House of Representatives--

urges the Former Yugoslave Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) to observe its obligations under Article 7 of the 1995 United Nations-brokered Interim Accord which directs the parties to "promptly take effective measures to prohibit hostile activities or propaganda by state-controlled agencies and to discourage acts by private entities likely to incite violence, hated or hostility" and review the contents of textbooks, maps, and teaching aids to ensure that such tools are stating accurate information; and

urges the FYROM to work within the framework of the United Nations process with Greece to achieve longstanding United States and United Nations policy goals by reacing a mutually-acceptable official name for the FYROM.

2007-10-28

October 28, 1940 - OXI

In the early morning hours of October 28, 1940, Italian Ambassador Emmanuel Grazzi awoke Greek Premier Ioannis Metaxas and presented him an ultimatum. Metaxas rejected the ultimatum and Italian forces invaded Greek territory from Italian-occupied Albania less than three hours later. (The anniversary of Metaxas's refusal is now a public holiday in Greece.) Mussolini launched the invasion partly to prove that Italians could match the military successes of the German Army and partly because Mussolini regarded south-eastern Europe as lying within Italy's sphere of influence.

The Greek army proved to be a more able opponent than Mussolini or his generals thought, and successfully exploited the mountainous terrain of Epirus. The Greek forces counterattacked and forced the Italians to retreat. By mid-December, the Greeks had occupied nearly one-quarter of Albania, before Italian reinforcements and the harsh winter stemmed the Greek advance. In March 1941, a major Italian counterattack partially failed and the Italian troops only reoccupied small areas around Himare and Grabova. The initial Greek defeat of the Italian invasion is considered the first Allied land victory of the Second World War, even if in the event the campaign, thanks mainly to the German intervention, resulted in a victory for the Axis.

Fifteen of the twenty one Greek divisions were deployed against the Italians, so only six divisions were facing the attack from German troops in the Metaxas Line (near the border between Greece and Yugoslavia/Bulgaria) during the first days of April. In those days, Greece received help from British Commonwealth troops, moved from Libya by orders of Churchill.

On April 6, 1941, Nazi Germany came to the aid of Italy and invaded Greece through Bulgaria and Yugoslav Macedonia. Greek and British Commonwealth troops fought back but were overwhelmed.

On April 20, after Greek resistance in the north had ceased, the Bulgarian Army entered Greek Thrace, with the goal of regaining its Aegean Sea outlet in Western Thrace and Eastern Macedonia. The Bulgarians occupied territory between the Strymon river and a line of demarcation running through Alexandroupoli and Svilengrad west of the Evros river.

The Greek capital Athens fell on April 27, and by June 1, after the capture of Crete, all of Greece was under Axis occupation.



The Triple Occupation
The occupation of Greece was divided between Germany, Italy, and Bulgaria. German forces occupied some strategically important areas, namely Athens, Thessaloniki with Central Macedonia, and several Aegean islands, including most of Crete. Northeastern Greece (Eastern Macedonia and Western Thrace with the exception of the Evros prefecture) came under Bulgarian occupation and was annexed to Bulgaria, which had long claimed these territories. The remaining 2/3 of Greece was occupied by Italy, with the Ionian islands directly administered as Italian territories. After the Italian capitulation in September 1943, the Italian zone was taken over by the Germans, often accompanied by violence towards the Italian garrisons. There was a failed attempt by the British to take advantage of the Italian surrender to reenter the Aegean, resulting in the Battle of Leros. For Greece, the strength of the Axis occupation forces always owed more to the threat of invasion from the Allies than to active resistance.



The German occupation zone


Economic exploitation and the Great Famine
Greece suffered greatly during the Occupation. The country's weak economy had already been devastated from the 6-month long war, and to it was added the relentless economic exploitation by the Germans. Raw materials and foodstuffs were requisitioned, and the collaborationist government was forced to pay the cost of the occupation, giving rise to inflation, further exacerbated by a "war loan" Greece was forced to grant to the German Reich. Requisitions, together with the Allied blockade of Greece, the ruined state of the country's infrastructure and the emergence of a powerful and well-connected black market, resulted in the Great Famine during the winter of 1941-42 (Greek: Μεγάλος Λιμός), when an estimated 300,000 people perished. Despite aid from neutral countries like Sweden and Turkey, the overwhelming majority of foodstuff ended up in the hands of the government officials and black-market traders who used their connection to the Axis Occupation authorities to "buy" the aid from them and then sell it on to the desperate population at enormously inflated prices. The great suffering and the pressure of the exiled Greek government eventually forced the British to partially lift the blockade, and from the summer of 1942, the International Red Cross was able to distribute supplies in sufficient quantities.



Nazi atrocities

Increasing attacks by partisans in the latter years of the Occupation resulted in a number of executions and wholesale slaughter of civilians in reprisal. The most famous examples are those of the village of Kommeno (August 16, 1943) by 1.Gebirgs-Division, where 317 inhabitants were murdered and the village torched, the "Massacre of Kalavryta" (December 13, 1943), in which Wehrmacht troops of the 117th Jäger Division carried out the extermination of the entire male population and the subsequent total destruction of the town, and the "Massacre of Distomo" (June 10, 1944), where an SS Police unit looted and burned the village of Distomo in Boeotia, resulting in the deaths of 218 civilians. At the same time, in the course of the concerted anti-guerrilla campaign, hundreds of villages were systematically torched and almost one million Greeks left homeless

Two other notable but almost unknown acts of brutality were the massacres of Italian troops at the islands of Cephallonia and Kos in September 1943, during the German takeover of the Italian occupation areas. In Cephallonia, the 12,000-strong Italian 'Acqui' Division was attacked on September 13 by elements of 1.Gebirgs-Division with support from Stukas, and forced to surrender on September 21, after suffering some 1,300 casualties. The next day, the Germans began executing their prisoners and did not stop until over 4,500 Italians had been shot. The ca. 4,000 survivors were put aboard ships for the mainland, but some of them sunk after hitting mines in the Ionian Sea, where another 3,000 were lost. The Cephallonia massacre serves as the background for the novel Captain Corelli's Mandolin.



The Italian occupation zone

Greatest extent of Italian control of Mediterranean areas (within green line & dots) in 1942.
The Italians occupied the bulk of the Greek mainland and most of the islands. Although several proposals for territorial annexation had been put forward in Rome, none was actually carried out during the war. This was due to pressure from the King of Italy, Victor Emmanuel III, and from the Germans, who were concerned of further alienating the Greek population (which was already strongly opposing the Bulgarian annexations).

Nevertheless, in the Ionian Islands, long a target of Italian expansionism, as well as in the Cyclades, the Greek civil authorities were replaced by Italians in preparation for a post-war annexation. In Epirus, the area near the Albanian border, claimed by Albanian irredentists as Chameria, where a significant Albanian minority (the Cham Albanians) existed, an Albanian High Commissioner was appointed, but no definite steps for annexation were undertaken. Another case of Italian-sponsored minority state on Greek territory was the Aromanian "Principality of Pindus" of Alchiviad Diamandi.

The Italian occupation regime was relatively mild. Unlike the Germans, they never implemented a policy of mass reprisals and protected the Jews in their zone. As they controlled most of the countryside, the Italians were the first to face the rising resistance movement in 1942-43, but failed to contain it. By mid-1943, the Resistance had managed to expel the Italian garrisons from some mountainous areas, including several towns, creating liberated zones ("Free Greece"). After the capitulation of Italy in September 1943, the Italian zone was taken over by the Germans, and German anti-partisan and anti-Semitic policies were extended to it.



The Bulgarian occupation zone
Bulgaria joined World War II siding with the Axis in an attempt to solve its "national question" and fulfill the aim of "Greater Bulgaria", especially in the area of Macedonia (where much territory was lost in the Second Balkan War) and Western Thrace (lost to Greece in the Treaty of Neuilly). Bulgaria became part of the Axis on 1 March 1941, explicitly requesting German support for its territorial claims.

The Bulgarian Army entered Greece on 20 April 1941, at the heels of the Wehrmacht and eventually occupied the whole of northeastern Greece east of the Strymon River (eastern Macedonia and Western Thrace), except for the Evros prefecture, at the border with Turkey, which was occupied by the Germans. Unlike Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy, Bulgaria set out to annex the occupied territories, with the result that the Bulgarian occupation was far harsher than the Nazi and Italian ones. A massive campaign of "Bulgarisation" was launched which saw all Greek officials (mayors, school-teachers, judges, lawyers, priests, gendarmes) deported, a universal ban placed on the use of the Greek language even on a private basis, the names of towns and places changed to the forms traditional in Bulgarian, land and housing expropriated and Bulgarian settlers introduced. A spontaneous and badly organized uprising around Drama in late September 1941 was crushed by the Bulgarian Army. By late 1941, more than 100,000 Greeks had been expelled from the Bulgarian occupation zone.Eventually up to 500,000 Greeks would be expelled from the Bulgarian occupation zone

The advance of the Red Army into Bulgaria in 1944, the withdrawal of the Wehrmacht from Greece in October and the Percentages Agreement between Winston Churchill and Joseph Stalin, meant the Bulgarian Army had to withdraw from Greek Macedonia and Thrace, leaving Greece with the difficult task of post-occupation reconstruction.



Collaboration


General Georgios Tsolakoglou, who had signed the armistice treaty with the Wehrmacht, was appointed as chief of a new Nazi puppet collaborationist regime in Athens. He was succeeded as Prime Minister of Greece by two other prominent Greek collaborators: Konstantinos Logothetopoulos first, and Ioannis Rallis second. The latter was responsible for the creation of the Greek collaborationist Security Battalions. As in other European countries, there were Greeks eager to collaborate with the occupying force. Some did so because they shared the National Socialist ideology (for instance members of ultra-nationalist political factions and parties), others because of extreme anti-Communism, and others because of opportunistic advancement. The Germans were also eager to find support from the ideologically-similar Greeks, and helped Greek fascist organizations such as the infamous EEE (Ethniki Enosis Ellas), the EKK (Ethnikon Kyriarchon Kratos), the Greek National Socialist Party (Elliniko Ethnikososialistiko Komma, EEK) led by George S. Mercouris and other minor pro-Nazi, fascist or anti-Semitic organizations such as the ESPO (Hellenic Socialist Patriotic Organization) or the Sidira Eirini ("Iron Peace").

In Nazi ideology, the Greeks were regarded as a German-friendly nation and were above Slavs in their racial scale. Adolf Hitler personally admired the ancient Greek civilization, the Spartan model and Hellenic classicism, which inspired many building and artistics endeavours in Nazi Germany. Hitler had no plans to occupy Greece either, and also resisted Italy's plans to invade Greece, which in the end were for this reason enacted without Benito Mussolini consulting Hitler. Also the fact that Greece in the 1930s had a fascist regime lead by the germanophile Ioannis Metaxas placed Greece on Hitler's list of potentially friendly nations. Furthermore, the Italians' failure to conquer Greece after their October 28, 1940 ultimatum and attack gained the Greeks the respect of Germany. For this reason Hitler ordered the Wehrmacht not to take Greek prisoners during the invasion and the consequent collapse of the front.



Resistance

However, most Greeks did not cooperate with the Nazis and chose either the path of passive acceptance or active resistance. Active Greek resistance started immediately as many Greeks fled to the hills, where a partisan movement was born. One of the most touching episodes of the early resistance took place just after the Wehrmacht reached the Acropolis on April 27. The Germans ordered the flag guard, Evzone Konstandinos Koukidis, to retire the Greek flag. The Greek soldier obeyed, but when he was done, he wrapped himself in the flag and threw himself off of the plateau where he met death. Some days later, when the Swastika banner was waving on the Acropolis' uppermost spot, two patriotic Athenian youngsters, Manolis Glezos and Apostolos Santas climbed by night on the Acropolis and tore down the flag. It was one of the first actions of Greek resistance and among the first in Europe, and therefore inspired not only Greeks but also other Europeans under German domination.

The greatest source of partisan activity were the Communist-backed guerrilla forces, the National Liberation Front (EAM), and its military wing, the National People's Liberation Army (ELAS), which carried out operations of sabotage and guerrilla attacks against the Wehrmacht with notable success. Other resistance groups included a right-wing partisan organization, the National Republican Greek League (EDES), led by a former army officer, Colonel Napoleon Zervas a well-known Republican, and the National and Social Liberation (EKKA), led by Colonel Dimitrios Psarros, a Royalist. These groups were formed from remnants of the Hellenic Army and the conservative factions of Greek society. Starting in 1943, on a number of cases EDES and ELAS fought each other in a sort of prelude to the civil war that sprang up after the German departure in 1944. EAM alleged that EDES was aided by the German occupying forces and by the Nazi-supported puppet regimes of Tsolakoglou, Logothetopoulos and Rallis. This situation led to triangular battles among ELAS, EDES and the Germans. At the same time, ELAS attacked and destroyed Psarros' military formation, the "5/42 Evzones Regiment".


When Italy surrendered to the Allies in the fall of 1943, German forces actively hunted down and, in some cases executed, the Italian soldiers and simultaneously began serious attacks on EDES. There is evidence that Zervas then struck a deal with the German army. The right-wing partisans and Germans agreed not to attack each other. This truce left the Germans free of sabotage in some areas and allowed EDES to suppress local Communist rivals. The EDES-German truce ended in 1944, when the Germans began evacuating Greece and the British agents in Greece negotiated a ceasefire (the Plaka agreement).

2007-10-19

Year of Greek culture starts in China

www.chinaview.cn 2007-10-18

BEIJING, Oct. 18 (Xinhua) -- "The year of Greek Culture in China" featuring an ambitious array of events was launched here to showcase both ancient Hellenic culture and modern Greece.

Opening the event here on Wednesday, Greek Culture Minister Michalis Liapis said the aim of the event was to attract global interest "by constantly presenting a flavor of Greek culture in the country which is organizing the 2008 Olympic Games".

The Minister noted that they aimed to "present the modern character and the development over history of Greek civilization to the Chinese people". He added that the Year of Greek Culture would further enhance ties between the two countries.

The event will officially begin on October 19 with a concert featuring Greek composer Stamatis Spanoudakis' new work "Alexander: Paths You Haven't Travelled" at the Beijing Poly Theater.

An exhibition, named "Classical Memories in Contemporary Greek Art", runs from October 16 to November 16 in the Beijing-based Capital Museum.

Others events include theatrical and dance performances, cinema tributes, archaeological and modern art exhibitions, opera, folk concerts, modern and popular music, conferences and book exhibitions.

The theatrical performances include classical dramas with a history of over 2000 years, like Aristophanes' comedy "The Birds" and Sophocles' tragedy "Aias".

Dance performance "Medea," whose director is also the artistic director of the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2004 Athens Olympic Games, will be performed in May and June 2008.

As part of one-year long program, the Hellenic Cultural Center has been set up adjacent to Beijing's Forbidden City, and activities including exhibitions, seminars and lectures will be held there.

(THE SAGA CONTINUES...) Keep your Friends close and the Destroyers of Hellenism Closer!

"Europe Would Lose If Turkey Is Rejected" Chris Patten in The Hindu (India)18 October 2007
The Hindu (India)

This is no way to treat a friend — Europe has just as much to lose as Turkey if the doubters prevail in the EU membership battle..

For the third year in a row, Turkey’s annual hurdles on the winding path of convergence with the European Union — a progress report early next month and the European Council in December — are likely to be bruising. Doubters will seize on gridlock over Cyprus and a pause in legislative reform to allege that Turkey is not changing and should be pushed back outside the EU’s gates. They will point to Ankara’s response to the United States’ e fforts to declare the 1915-23 killing of Armenians a genocide, and the political push for an incursion into northern Iraq to deal with cross-border terrorist attacks, as evidence that Turkey is not ready to join the club. So it is worth stepping back and considering why Europe needs Turkey.

Turkey was critical to Europe in the Cold War. For 40 years, it stood lonely guard on the south-eastern third of NATO’s frontline, paying the price in military-heavy government and delayed development. There was little carping about its Muslim identity then, and a cultural variety that included Turkey was considered a European strength. After communism’s collapse, Turkey kept contributing to Europe’s security, giving troops and legitimacy to EU-backed missions in Afghanistan, Lebanon, the Balkans, and even Congo. If EU-Turkish relations had not stumbled (for which all sides are responsible), it would likely be supporting a force for Darfur.
Golden period

The process of convergence has been strongly in Europe’s interest as well, especially the golden period between 1999 and 2005: wide-ranging reforms fashioned a more European political system; peace and cooperation replaced friction with Greece; an annual economic growth of 7.5 per cent benefited European companies; Turkey’s new trust in the EU brought a turnaround on Cyprus that nearly solved the problem; and basic freedoms of religion and expression improved. The EU won credibility as a fair-minded player in the Muslim world.

But the sum of these many parts is not seen by European people and politicians, consumed by doubts about enlargement, immigration and their own economic security.

Election campaigns — notably those of Nicolas Sarkozy and Angela Merkel — featured a demeaning of the Turkish “other” and proposals that Europe drop its promise of membership. Conservative EU politicians admit privately that Turkey is more benefit than threat, but that to say so out loud would be political suicide.

Fears about instant membership are misplaced. Nobody suggests Turkey will be ready for a decade or more. Incomes are less than half the EU average, and EU norms are far from implemented. Accession will be imminent only when the stiffest conditions applied to any candidate are fulfilled (and every EU state will still have a veto).

Indeed, depending on how the EU develops, Turkey may have second thoughts.

Most important for both the EU and Turkey is to re-launch the process of convergence that has brought so much benefit to both sides. Turkish voters have shown their faith in this process, returning the pro-reform AK party to power. It has gone straight back to work, tackling in an open spirit one of the key problems in Turkey’s democratisation: the 1982 military-era constitution.

As EU leaders prepare for the annual debate over how much reform Turkey has done and how much it should do, they should do all they can to renew Turkey’s trust in the EU. The cost of restoring the motivational goal of membership is not high, and the reward great. Turkey is not fundamentally different to Greece, Spain, and Portugal, where EU leaps of faith were essential to a transition from military authoritarianism to stability and democracy. — ©Guardian Newspapers Limited, 2007

(Lord Patten, the former European commissioner for external relations, is chairman of the board of the International Crisis Group www.crisisgroup.org)

Comments: I think its important to state some historical facts about the Turkey and their origins.

Historically, Turkic people have lived and left their influence throughout many parts of Eurasia. They have consistently maintained a policy of assimilation, by absorbing the different cultures that they conquered into their own culture, and maintaining many of the useful ideas and influences of the conquered cultures. Turkish political history began with the creation of the powerful Hunnic State, which was able to expand its borders from Eastern Turkestan and Central Asia to Central and Western Europe under the command of Attila.

After the Huns, until 1040 a series of states founded by various Turkic tribes rose to prominence and consequently collapsed due to invasions from other Turkic tribes. One group in particular was the House of Seljuk, a branch of the Kınık Oğuz Turks who, in the 9th century, resided on the periphery of the Muslim world, north of the Caspian and Aral Seas in the Yabghu Khaganate of the Oğuz confederacy.[14] In the 10th century, the Seljuks migrated from their homelands in Central Asia into the eastern Anatolian regions.


The Ottoman Empire at the height of its power (ca. 1680)Following their victory over the Byzantine Empire in the Battle of Manzikert in 1071, the Turks permanently settled in Anatolia, giving rise to the Anatolian Seljuk State which developed as a separate branch of the larger Seljuk Empire. During the time of the Seljuk dominance, there were two other prominent Turkish states, the Karahanids and Ghaznavids who became unified under Seljuk rule. In 1243, the Seljuk armies were defeated by the Mongols and the power of the empire slowly disintegrated. In its wake, one of the Turkish principalities governed by Osman I was to evolve into the Ottoman Empire, thus filling the void left by the collapsed Seljuks and Byzantines.

The Ottoman Empire interacted with both Eastern and Western cultures throughout its 623-year history. In the 16th and 17th centuries, it was among the world's most powerful political entities, often locking horns with the powers of eastern Europe in its steady advance through the Balkans and the southern part of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.[Following years of decline, the Ottoman Empire entered World War I through the Ottoman-German Alliance in 1914, and was ultimately defeated. After the war, the victorious Allied Powers sought the dismemberment of the Ottoman state through the Treaty of Sèvres.


The Question remains, "WHAT WILL EUROPE LOOSE IF TURKEY IS NOT ADMITTED IN THE EU" Most certain History has taught what side they pick.

2007-10-17

Keep your Friends close and the Destroyers of Hellenism Closer!

Greek historians fight ideological indoctrination
Tuesday, October 9, 2007


Ariana Ferentinou
ISTANBUL - Turkish Daily News


The final decision by the new conservative Greek government of Costas Karamanlis last week to withdraw the controversial sixth grade (VI Form) history book from Greek elementary schools, just days after elections, has created an uproar among some political and historical circles in Greece.

The left opposition accuses the government of succumbing not only to the pressure from the newly elected ultranationalist right wing Popular Orthodox Rally Party (LAOS), but also that of the Greek Orthodox church, a loud defender of patriotism in the media and culture. The "patriarch" of Greek music, Mikis Theodorakis welcomed the withdrawal of the book, which he claimed, was part of an "organized effort to destruct Hellenism and destroy the depth of our life as a nation." Theodorakis, like many others, believes that the book, which was approved by the Supreme Educational Authority (The Pedagogical Institute) before the election, was trying to hide the real history between Greeks and Turks, degrading the important role of the Greek church and trying to soften major tragic events such as the expulsion of the Greeks from Asia Minor in 1922.

Antonis Liakos, professor of history at the University of Athens, has been one of the strong defenders of the book and a cosignatory of protest declaration by scholars and academics against its withdrawal. It is his assessment that the decision of the new Education Minister Euripides Stylianides and the Greek government to by-pass decisions taken by the responsible educational authorities and order the withdrawal of the book was inconsistent to New Democracy Party's (ND) promises that they would respect the procedures regarding the re-writing and publication of the book. Moreover, he told the Turkish Daily News, that this indicates that the entrance of ultra-rightist LAOS affected the government in their decision.

"It is apparent that the election result and the entrance of the ultra-rightist LAOS in Parliament were weighted by the government in their decision," Liakos told the TDN in an exclusive interview last week. "The presence of an opposition from the right is pushing the political system even more towards the right, because there is no specific political delineation between the right and the ultra-right. The ideological roots are common."

Using psychoanalytical language Liakos explained that the ultra right expresses the "unconscious" of the ND. The book that is being withdrawn had been written after an official contest and after a long procedure during which it was judged and approved by experts, he said. "Now it is withdrawn by a ministerial decision. Is this the way democracies are operating?"

As an historian looking at the book, he explained that it follows contemporary approaches in education which hold that modern democratic citizens are formed by instilling in them critical awareness of historical stereotypes, so they can live peacefully with their neighbors. "As you know, all school books in Balkan countries, not excluding Turkey or Greece, are full of prejudice and one-sided approaches," he said. "It is not a violation of the historic truth to adopt a more critical and more logical stance." Nor does it mean that thinking critically means "we pull out pages of history" erasing the Greek-Turkish wars and the hostility between these two peoples. He explained that the re-writing was not a softening up of facts, but a more spherical view of history where next to hostility there is cooperation and more importantly a critical distance from the events. "The fact that there is hostility between the Greeks and the Turks or between the Greeks and the Bulgarians does not mean that it has to be cultivated and eternalized. The children have to know the terms of each age and the terms of our age, which requires cooperation," he said.

The aim is to help students place themselves in the position of the opponent, or someone with a different position. As every generation or age asks its own questions to history, today there is more interest in the social and technological history, the development of culture, the historic relation between people and the environment; not the fuelling of nationalism. "History must not be an ideological indoctrination," he said.



Just warming up

Now that the history book has been withdrawn one would expect the right and factions of the Greek Orthodox church to be appeased, with their "mission accomplished" as it were. Liakos leaves no room for such delusions. "They will ask for more. The hierarchy of the Greek Orthodox church wishes to become a co-manager in the policy on education and foreign affairs." Liakos said that Greece's own bishops are more interested in the history book and the name of Macedonia than say, the salvation of the souls and the message of the gospel. "Have you seen bishops putting up maps and suggesting how should one country or another call itself? They will ask for more and more." The government will find them confronting it in other issues, maintains Liakos, such as the name of Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), in the negotiations between Greek-Cypriots and Turkish-Cypriots, other education related topics. "A few years ago when Costas Simitis' government took the decision not to include the religion of Greek citizens on their identity cards, it faced anationwide campaign organized by the church in protest."True Greek historians and scientists will remain undaunted in the face of the "emotional" debate, said Liakos: "These things cannot affect current historical research." Most universities are training historians according to international specifications engage in dialogue and exchanges with the international scientific communities they belong to "where this nationalistic nonsense does not get accepted." The University of Athens trains historians who originate from Turkey, and Greek students are often trained in Turkey as well.

"We are in cooperation with our Turkish colleagues who come and teach in our universities. This has been going on for years," said Liakos. "I could say that the cooperation between Greek and Turkish historians started well before the rapprochement between Greek and Turkish politicians and diplomats."

Last month Liakos took part in a history congress organized by Istanbul Technical University where he said he was given once more the opportunity "to admire" the critical eye with which many of his Turkish colleagues look at their own national history. "We also discussed how this critical approach should be transferred to education against those who think that the best service they can offer to their country is to cultivate hostility towards their neighbors. We hold the opposite view," concluded Liakos.


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2007-10-10

Blog Action Day



Στις 15 Οκτωβρίου bloggers απ'όλο τον κόσμο θα ενωθούν για ένα σημαντικό ζήτημα - το περιβάλλον. Ας ενώσουμε και την δική μας φωνή ανεβάζοντας το δικό μας μήνυμα.
Στόχος αυτής της ενέργειας είναι να ευαισθητοποιηθούν όσο το δυνατόν περισσότεροι άνθρωποι δείχνοντας τους ότι μας νοιάζει.


Blog Action Day

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2007-10-04

Faces of Alexander the Great Hellene




2007-10-03

SENATOR VOWS TO HALT NAFTA SUPERHIGHWAY AT STATE LINE

OLD WORLD IN COLLISION COURSE WITH THE NEW WORLD ORDER - CLASH OF THE TITANS!

Tell Congress you support a Resolution to end the NAFTA superhighway and the abandonment of integration with Canada, Mexico.

The expressed intention of a state lawmaker in Oklahoma to halt any NAFTA Superhighway project at his state line has failed to draw a meaningful response from the White House.

Spokeswoman Dana Perino was asked at the White House, about the comments from state Sen. Randy Brogdon, who told a meeting in Tulsa that "The NAFTA Superhighway stops here at the border with Oklahoma."

"What will the federal government do to overcome pockets of resistance, such as this, to NAFTA transportation project[s]?"

"I don't even know where to begin," Perino said. "Obviously the president is a supporter of NAFTA."

Brogdon said he's recognized in recent years a "concerted effort to undermine the nation's sovereignty – not only the nation's, but the state's sovereignty, as well."

He described the superhighway projects as being "close to reality" and intended for "transporting goods and people from Mexico and China."

His remarks came at an event by Oklahomans for Sovereignty and Free Enterprise, Inc., whose members believe the Bush administration and businesses are conspiring to open the United States' borders and effectively merge the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

He noted specifically the North American Super Corridor Organization and the Security and Prosperity Partnership. The Oklahoma group says NASCO is planning a multimodal transportation system across North America that would be controlled by foreign interests and intended to smooth the transport of people and goods throughout the continent.

Specifically members are concerned by a project being developed already in Texas – the Trans-Texas Corridor – in partnership with the Spanish company Cintra. That project eventually would hit the Texas-Oklahoma border.

Brogdon also has criticized the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America -- an agreement with Canadian and Mexican leaders in which President Bush, Brogdon said, proves "he is more than willing to over-step his executive authority when it came to trade policy."

"Article 1 Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution says, 'Congress shall have the Power to Regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States,' not the president," Brogdon pointed out. "Yet President Bush has entered into an agreement with Mexico and Canada called SPP that seeks to eliminate our trade and security borders and he has failed to get the explicit approval of Congress."

The SPP website, in a section entitled "Myths vs. Facts," supports Brogdon's argument, openly admitting that SPP is neither a law nor a treaty.

"Texas highways are famous for 'Texas turnaround' U-turns," Brogdon quipped. "Maybe it's time we tell Governor Perry to do a Texas turnaround at the border with Oklahoma."

"We don't need a new superhighway four-football-fields-wide coming through the heart of our state just so Mexican trucks can carry Chinese containers from Mexican ports to Kansas City," he said.

Brogdon has opposed legislation that would have pre-authorized the extension north into Oklahoma, as a deceptive piece of legislation (HB 1917) that would have put Oklahoma in a highway "pilot project" that was unlimited in scope and required Oklahoma to waive its 11th Amendment rights.

"The 11th Amendment gives protection to Oklahoma from being sued in federal court by a foreign nation," Brogdon explained. "So for us to be a part of this project we had to waive our 11th Amendment rights. This benign piece of legislation that started out as a simple re-surface project in Southeast Oklahoma was in fact the first step to create the NAFTA Superhighway through Oklahoma."

DO NOT BE SILENCED BY ANYONE STAND UP! MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD!

'Οι Έλληνες του εξωτερικού αποκτούν δύναμη' - Δημοσιεύθηκε: 10 Φεβ 2007

Ψηφοφόροι εισαγωγής

Της ΜΑΡΙΝΑΣ ΜΑΝΗ


Τη διαμόρφωση ενός νέου -και εντελώς διαφορετικού- εκλογικού σώματος επιχειρεί η Ν.Δ. με απώτερο στόχο να εξασφαλίσει τη μακρόχρονη παραμονή της στην εξουσία: Στις μεθεπόμενες εκλογές, με βάση ειδικό νομοσχέδιο, θα προστεθούν οι ψήφοι των Ελλήνων της διασποράς, που θα αγγίξουν το ένα εκατομμύριο.

Το αποτέλεσμα; Ραγδαία αλλαγή στα αριθμητικά δεδομένα, αλλά και στους πολιτικούς συσχετισμούς, καθώς μεταξύ των αποδήμων ψηφοφόρων (κυρίως στις μακρινές ηπείρους) κυριαρχεί η συντηρητική παράταξη.

Τι προβλέπει

Η ρύθμιση για την ψήφο των ομογενών πήρε τη μορφή νομοσχεδίου διά χειρός Πρ. Παυλόπουλου και ήδη οδεύει προς τη Βουλή, με στόχο να ψηφιστεί, μετά τις τελικές διορθώσεις, στο τέλος Μαρτίου. Ιδού μερικά από τα πιο σημαντικά σημεία του:

1 Στην αρχή διευκρινίζεται ότι πρόκειται για συνταγματική επιταγή, αφού στην τελευταία αναθεώρηση του Συντάγματος (2001) κατοχυρώθηκε η ψήφος των «εκτός επικρατείας» εκλογέων.

Και ορίζεται ποιοι θα έχουν δικαίωμα ψήφου: όλοι όσοι διαμένουν στο εξωτερικό, διαθέτουν ελληνική ιθαγένεια και είναι εγγεγραμμένοι στα ελληνικά δημοτολόγια.

2 Σχετικά με τις διαδικασίες σύνταξης των «ομογενειακών» εκλογικών καταλόγων, στο προσχέδιο υπάρχουν δύο διατάξεις:

* Σύμφωνα με την πρώτη, τρεις μήνες πριν από την ημερομηνία των εκλογών τα κατά τόπους ελληνικά προξενεία θα καλούν τους ομογενείς να δηλώσουν ποιοι επιθυμούν να ασκήσουν το εκλογικό τους δικαίωμα. Οταν διαμορφωθεί ο κατάλογος, θα αποστέλλεται στο υπουργείο Εσωτερικών όπου θα γίνεται η διασταύρωση των στοιχείων.

Ο νέος κατάλογος που θα προκύπτει θα ονομάζεται «εκλογικός κατάλογος» και θα επιστρέφεται στα προξενεία.

- Το αδύνατο σημείο αυτής της διάταξης είναι ότι «αντιγράφει» πιστά τη διαδικασία που ισχύει ήδη για την ομογενειακή ψήφο στις ευρωεκλογές. Οι τελευταίες, όμως, διεξάγονται σε σταθερή ημερομηνία, κάθε πέντε χρόνια, σε αντίθεση με τις εθνικές εκλογές που γίνονται -σχεδόν πάντοτε- πρόωρα.

* Επειδή, λοιπόν, δεν μπορεί να ορισθεί το απαραίτητο τρίμηνο πριν την (άγνωστη) εκλογική ημερομηνία, προστέθηκε η δεύτερη διάταξη: η διαδικασία «εγγραφών-διασταύρωσης» θα συμπίπτει με την αντίστοιχη ετήσια επεξεργασία των (εγχώριων) εκλογικών καταλόγων, ώστε τόσο οι εντός όσο και οι εκτός επικράτειας λίστες να «κλείνουν» ταυτόχρονα κάθε Μάρτιο.

3 Οι ομογενείς θα ψηφίζουν στα κατά τόπους ελληνικά προξενεία.

Τα ψηφοδέλτια θα αποστέλλονται εγκαίρως από την Αθήνα, ενώ οι κάλπες θα ανοίγουν και θα κλείνουν ταυτόχρονα με τις εγχώριες.

Την ψηφοφορία και την καταμέτρηση θα επιμελείται δικαστικός αντιπρόσωπος, ο οποίος θα «ταχυδρομεί» ηλεκτρονικά το αποτέλεσμα σε ειδική υπηρεσία του υπουργείου Εσωτερικών.

4 Η ψήφος θα «καταλήγει» στις εκλογικές περιφέρειες της Ελλάδας στις οποίες θα είναι εγγεγραμμένοι οι ομογενείς ψηφοφόροι, ανεξάρτητα αν αυτοί θα έχουν ψηφίσει στην Αυστραλία ή σε κάποια πολιτεία της Αμερικής.

Δύο μυστικά

Οπως προκύπτει από τα παραπάνω, φαίνεται ότι από την κυβέρνηση απορρίπτεται η πρόταση του ΠΑΣΟΚ να προσμετράται η ψήφος της διασποράς μόνο για το πανελλαδικό ποσοστό των κομμάτων και να μην υπολογίζεται για την εκλογή βουλευτών. Τι σημαίνει η κυβερνητική εμμονή;

* Πρώτον, ότι σε πολλές περιοχές που διαθέτουν αξιόλογο αριθμό ομογενών (Δωδεκάνησα, κεντρική Μακεδονία, νότια Πελοπόννησος) η εγγραφή «νέων» ψηφοφόρων θα λειτουργήσει σαν «απογραφή πληθυσμού» και θα οδηγήσει σε αύξηση εδρών, εις βάρος άλλων περιφερειών που δεν θα ενισχυθούν από νέο εκλογικό «αίμα».

Αρμόδιοι κυβερνητικοί παράγοντες αντιτείνουν ότι η πρόταση του ΠΑΣΟΚ θα οδηγούσε σε «ψηφοφόρους δύο ταχυτήτων», αφού οι εγχώριοι θα μπορούσαν να αναδεικνύουν βουλευτές, ενώ οι εξωχώριοι δεν θα είχαν αυτό το δικαίωμα -και την κρίνουν ως αντισυνταγματική.

* Δεύτερον, ότι οι υποψήφιοι βουλευτές πρέπει να κυνηγούν το σταυρό στα πέρατα του κόσμου. Πόσοι, όμως, θα έχουν την οικονομική δυνατότητα να «πεταχθούν» μέχρι τη μακρινή Αυστραλία ή τον Καναδά; Ελάχιστοι.

«Ας αξιοποιήσουν την αλληλογραφία ή κάθε άλλο πρόσφορο μέσον», απαντούν οι ίδιοι παράγοντες, αναδεικνύοντας μία άλλη παράμετρο: την εμπλοκή των πανίσχυρων ομογενειακών συλλόγων και της Εκκλησίας στη σύνθεση της ελληνικής Βουλής.

5 Αλλο σημείο του νομοσχεδίου που θα προκαλέσει αντιδράσεις είναι η απόρριψη της «επιστολικής ψήφου», δηλαδή της δυνατότητας του εκλογέα να «στέλνει» την ψήφο του με απλό ή ηλεκτρονικό ταχυδρομείο.

Η «επιστολική ψήφος»

Το υπουργείο Εσωτερικών θεωρεί τη μέθοδο «επισφαλή» και παραπέμπει σε φαινόμενα «τύπου Φλόριντα των ΗΠΑ» όπου αμφισβητήθηκε το αποτέλεσμα της ηλεκτρονικής εκλογικής διαδικασίας.

Η κυβερνητική επιλογή μοιάζει λογική για χώρες όπου τα ελληνικά προξενεία βρίσκονται σε μικρές χιλιομετρικές αποστάσεις μεταξύ τους (όπως στις ευρωπαϊκές), αλλά προβληματική για τις μακρινές ηπείρους όπου απαιτείται αεροπορική μεταφορά. Οπότε, και σ' αυτή τη περίπτωση το χρήμα θα εισρεύσει άφθονο από τους κατέχοντες ώστε να φτάσει ο εκλογέας στο προξενείο -και η ψήφος του στην εθνική κάλπη.

6 Οσο για τον αριθμό των «εν δυνάμει» νέων ψηφοφόρων, οι απόψεις διαφέρουν.

Οι ομογενειακοί σύλλογοι υπολογίζουν ότι θα ξεπεράσουν το ένα εκατομμύριο. Το υπουργείο Εσωτερικών -αν και αποφεύγει να μιλήσει με αριθμούς- υπολογίζει ότι οι ήδη εγγεγραμμένοι στους καταλόγους (οι οποίοι, ωστόσο, δεν ήρθαν ποτέ να ψηφίσουν) και όσοι προστεθούν σ' αυτούς, δεν θα ξεπεράσουν τελικά τις 300 χιλιάδες. Επισημαίνουν, μάλιστα, ότι η καταγραφή στις τελευταίες ευρωεκλογές ανέδειξε μόλις 38.000 Ελληνες με δικαίωμα ψήφου στις ευρωπαϊκές χώρες.

* Σε κάθε περίπτωση, πάντως, η τομή θα είναι μεγάλη και με συνέπειες σοβαρές. Αρκεί να σκεφθεί κανείς ότι πρόκειται για το 3-11% του εκλογικού σώματος της χώρας. Υπεραρκετό, δηλαδή, για να «βγάζει» κυβέρνηση.



ΚΥΡΙΑΚΑΤΙΚΗ - 11/02/2007

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