US Media on Greece
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Foreign Minister Ms. Dora Bakoyannis in the U.S.
US-GREECE: A STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIP
Amid Global Financial Crisis
GREEK RESILIENCE IN TURBULENT TIMES
- Events, Books, etc..
- GREECE UNCOVERED: The Antikythera Mechanism
Foreign Minister Ms. Dora Bakoyannis in the U.S.
US-GREECE: A STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIP
Making her first visit to the United States during the new administration of President Barack Obama, Ms. Dora Bakoyannis came not only in her capacity as Greece’s Foreign Minister, but also as the Chairperson for 2009 of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).
Welcoming Ms. Bakoyannis, Secretary Clinton said: “I am so pleased to welcome a friend to Washington and to the State Department. She is no stranger to either, but it is a great honor for me to have you here in my new capacity.” Talking to the press, Ms. Bakoyannis said discussions covered a wide range of topics, including issues related to the OSCE, as well as Greek-Turkish relations, Turkey’s European perspective, Cyprus and the situation in the Middle East. Another issue raised at the meeting was Greece’s hope that the new Administration will end the long delay in granting visa-free status to Greeks visiting the US (Visa Waiver Program).
“Discussions were positive and constructive…this is the beginning of a good cooperation to be deepened in the coming months,” she said, adding that “the US side was explicit in its assertion that the American-Greek relationship is of strategic importance, exemplified, among other things, in the setting up of three working groups between the two parts on OSCE issues, the Balkans and the Middle East.”
The FM discussed a wide range of issues, some of global importance and others specific to Greece-US relations, with key members of Congress and the administration. She met with National Security Adviser General James Jones, Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg and Undersecretary William Burns. She also met with the chairman and members of the US Helsinki Commission, the chairman and members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, as well as the chairman and members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. She had also a very friendly meeting with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who invited her to attend the first address to Congress by President Obama. Her engagements also included meetings with Senators Richard Durbin and Olympia Snow, as well as former Senator Paul Sarbanes.
Building New Bridges
Ms. Bakoyannis addressed the Brookings Institution on February 23 on “Collective Security in the 21st Century: Building New Bridges,” introduced by Brookings President Strobe Talbott. Announcing the event, the institution recalled the commitment of Greece, in assuming the OSCE chair, “to work as an honest broker,” and uphold the organization’ s role as a principal apparatus for ensuring peace, security and human rights in Europe and Central Asia.
The foreign minister outlined the priorities of the Greek chairmanship and spoke of three “very significant bridges”: one between Europe and the US; one across Eurasia, bringing Russia closer to the US and Europe; and one “over the European heartlands that brings the Balkans to the European family.”
Speaking to the US news media, Ms. Bakoyannis suggested that the West could engage more earnestly with Russia without damage to existing relationships, including the NATO alliance, and emphasized that the Obama administration had produced a “very rare momentum” in US-European relations.
In New York, Ms. Bakoyannis met with the Secretary General of the United Nation Ban Ki-moon and addressed the Security Council on “The priorities of the OSCE Greek chairmanship for 2009.” She was also interviewed by the CNN.
Amid Global Financial Crisis
GREEK RESILIENCE IN TURBULENT TIMES
Secretary General of Information Panos Livadas paid a visit to the US (Chicago, Atlanta, Washington, DC) early last month (Feb. 2-6). During his visit, Mr. Livadas held a series of meetings with government officials, businessmen, think tanks, academics, the media, and prominent members of the Greek American community. Discussing the global financial crisis, he provided data pointing to Greece’s impressive economic performance over the last decade, as well as its resilience in weathering the current financial storm, with limited damage to the real economy and the protection for the most vulnerable social groups. He also stressed Greece’s important role in the wider area of Southeastern Europe.
In Chicago, Mr. Livadas met with Illinois State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulas and the city’s mayor, Richard Daley. In Atlanta, he spoke at the Southern Center for International Studies on “New Opportunities in Southeastern Europe –The Role of Greece,” while in Washington, he talked at the Woodrow Wilson Center about “Global Crisis: Greek Resilience in Turbulent Times.” Talking to the Washington Times, Mr. Livadas said that while no country is immune, Greece’s economic resilience has so far been remarkable. He also delivered a lecture at the Communications Department of Marymount University, was an “honored guest” of the Newseum, and addressed a very lively event organized by the Next Generation Initiative at the National Press Club.
BRIEFLY . . .
• The US Embassy in Athens and the US Consulate General in Thessaloniki hosted a series of events to celebrate Black History Month this year, made particularly significant by the recent inauguration of Barack Obama as the first African-American to be elected President of the United States. Events included a concert by “American Voices” of Broadway musical selections, film screenings, including “Mohamed Ali: Made in Miami,” followed by discussions, lectures by renowned African-American author and journalist Evelyn White, and more.
• Switzerland and Finland are the two new members of the International Association for the Reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures, which brings to 17 the number of national committees supporting the return of all the “surviving” Parthenon Sculptures to the new Acropolis Museum in Athens. Members include Germany, the US and the United Kingdom. The chairman of the association, David Hill (Australia), remarked that the consistent expansion of the association’s membership is a powerful reminder of the widespread and growing support around the world for the reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures.
• The traveling multimedia exhibition “History Lost” on the illicit trade of antiquities and its impact on culture was on display at the European Parliament (Brussels) February 9-13. The exhibition, organized by the Hellenic Foundation for Culture, has also been presented in Trieste, Lisbon and Dublin.
• The “City Streets” photography exhibition, showcasing the work of the 14 young photographers (18–30 years old) who won the British Council’s City Streets Photography Competition last year, is open to the public 24 hours a day at Athens International Airport (Arrivals Hall) from February 2 to April 30. It is a photographic record of the new, multicultural face of Athens and of the stories of people living in the Greek capital, a journey into the streets of Athens, where Europe meets Africa, Asia and the Balkans.
• The exhibition “Jewish Neighbourhoods of Greece” runs at the Jewish Museum of Greece, in Athens, until March 31. The exhibition unravels the history of Greek Jews in 12 cities, based on the testimonies of people from all over Greece, who speak about the neighborhood they lived in as children or young adults before and after the end of World War II.
• The Harvard University Program of Modern Greek Studies (George Seferis Chair) held a lecture on the poet and diplomat George Seferis (Nobel Prize for Literature, 1963) and his memoirs, written during his years in the Middle East. The lecture, “A Greek Poet and Diplomat in the Middle East: George Seferis,” was delivered on February 20 by Roderick Beaton, Professor at King’s College, London, and head of the department of Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies.
• Read a selection of last year’s international media articles about Greece at the Secretariat General of Information website (www.minpress.gr/minpress/en). Articles are organized in the following categories: Politics, Culture and Education, Science and the Environment, Acropolis and the Parthenon Marbles, Travel, Food and Wine, Lifestyle, Sporting Events and special reports.
• Life Magazine’s legendary photographic archive is now available on line through Google’s Image Search function. Out of 10 million photographs, Life Magazine has already digitized 20%, including snapshots from Greece’s political, cultural and social life, stretching from 1948-1968.
“The Greek Legacy on the Roman Bay of Naples” was illustrated in a lecture given by Professor Carol Mattusch at the Greek Embassy in Washington on February 10. Professor Mattusch is curator of the exhibition “Pompeii and the Roman Villa: Art and Culture around the Bay of Naples,” showing at the National Gallery of Art until March 22.
Professor Mattusch, welcomed by Ambassador Alexandros Mallias and introduced by Cultural Counselor Dr. Zoe Kosmidou, described the contributions by Greek artists to the collections decorating the villas along the shores of the Bay of Naples of affluent and notable Romans in the first century BC. According to Mattusch, artists who came from as far away as Greece, created sculptures, paintings, mosaics, and luxury arts to adorn these lavish seaside villas of emperors and senators, who commissioned artworks in the full range of Greek styles. Patrons emulating the lifestyles of the powerful elite were also found in the nearby towns of Pompeii and Herculaneum (modern Ercolano). These artworks reveal the extent of the influence of classical Greece on Roman art and culture in the region; the Roman reverence for classical Greece and its artistic expression is displayed by artifacts referring to Greek mythology – as in the silver wine cups decorated with episodes from the labors of Hercules – as well as to Greek scholars, poets, politicians and philosophers.
The Antikythera Mechanism
The Antikythera Mechanism, a clockwork device made in Greece around 150–100 BC, astounded the world two years ago when scientists deduced how this machine was used to make complex astronomical time-reckonings. Now they say that the instrument, discovered in 1901 in a Mediterranean shipwreck, did much more than that.
Their latest findings reveal that it links the technical calendars used by astronomers to the everyday calendars that regulated ancient Greek society — most strikingly, the calendar that set the timing of the Olympic Games.
According to researchers reporting in the science journal Nature (July 31, 2008), the device used an intricate set of bronze gear wheels, dials and inscriptions to set the games’ date.
The Antikythera Mechanism is an ancient mechanical calculator designed to calculate astronomical positions. It was discovered in the Antikythera wreck off the Greek island of Antikythera (between Kythera and Crete) in 1901. Subsequent investigation, particularly in 2006, dated it to about 150–100 BC. Technological artifacts of similar complexity did not reappear until a thousand years later. According to Professor Michael Edmunds of Cardiff University, who led the study of the mechanism: “This device is just extraordinary, the only thing of its kind. The design is beautiful, the astronomy is exactly right. The way the mechanics are designed just makes your jaw drop. Whoever has done this has done it extremely carefully . . . in terms of historic and scarcity value, I have to regard this mechanism as being more valuable than the Mona Lisa.” The device is displayed in the Bronze Collection of the National Archaelogical Museum of Athens. Reconstructions of the mechanism are on display at the American Computer Museum in Bozeman, Montana, and the Children’s Museum of Manhattan in New York.
For more information and to follow current research go to the website of The Antikytheran Mechanism Research Project at http://www.antikythera-mechanism.gr
Bronze Age Tool Set Discovered
When a fisherman from Komotini, Athanasios Lykos, saw a mound of unfamiliar objects beneath the water last autumn, he had no idea that he had just happened upon the biggest collection of Bronze Age tools ever to be found in the southern Balkans. The samples he collected and handed to the Archaeological Museum of Komotini set in motion a rescue mission last November near the coastal village of Glyfada-Messi, in Rhodopi. The operation, organized by the authority responsible for underwater antiquities, revealed a large, 10-square-meter mass of bronze tools concreted together on the seabed. As the team carefully removed the treasure, they discovered underneath it the broken bases of two handmade bowls, dating back to the Early Helladic II period (2500-2300 BC). The hoard of bronze artifacts has already yielded 120 complete tools. Similar troves of buried tools are known from sites in Halkidiki, Lemnos, Kythnos, Syros and at Troy. Now, with this large, newly discovered collection, new light may be shed on ancient technology and the tool kits of Early Bronze Age carpenters.
According to the archaeologists in charge of the operation, these underwater finds do not belong to the cargo of a wrecked ship, as the shallow site may once have been dry coastal land and the tool mass a buried hoard that was flooded and subsequently exposed.
The Marble Road
The remains of an ancient road which used to transport marbles for the construction of the monuments on the Acropolis from Mount Penteli was unearthed during recent excavations in the northern Athenian suburb of Halandri.
The existence of the special road was known for some time, but this is the first physical evidence of its actual course, which coincides with what Manolis Korres, professor of Architecture at the National Technical University of Athens, had already depicted in a set of vivid drawings in his book From Pentelikon to the Parthenon (1994). In his “From Quarry to the Parthenon” (2000), Korres notes that when we say that we don’t know how the Parthenon was built on the Acropolis, we mean that we don’t know exactly how the Pentelic marble was hauled, treated and then carved into those superb columns and pediments that became the Temple of Athena. He describes how Greeks solved similar problems in the 5th century BC, by following, as means of illustration, the compelling history of a 12-ton column from the point of its extraction at the Mount Penteli quarry to its arrival at the rock of the Acropolis.
Decoding the Heavens by Jo Marchant (Heinemann, 2008) tells the absorbing story of the accidental discovery, by Greek sponge divers some 100 years ago, of the world’s first computer. The Antikythera Mechanism, so named from the island where the divers from the island of Simi were working after being blown off course in a storm, was among treasures of statuary and jewels they found in the remains of a shipwreck dating to about 70 BC.
Recovered in a dangerous 10-month expedition by Greek divers (when one died and two were paralyzed by the “bends”) the treasures were taken to the National Archaeological Museum of Athens. What appeared to be a corroded lump of rock was dumped in a crate in the courtyard of the museum. It was several months later when the crate cracked open to reveal remains of the unique mechanism which scientists, devoting years of study including the use of X-rays, have found to be a hand-wound clockwork device used to calculate the motions of the sun, moon and planets, and to predict solar and lunar eclipses. Although he lived a century before it was made, the Mechanism was associated with Archimedes, whose father was an astronomer and who pioneered the use of gearwheels to achieve various force ratios.
The author is a freelance journalist specializing in science and history, whose work has been published in the New Scientist, The Guardian, The Economist, and the science journal Nature.
Hellenisms: Culture, Identity and Ethnicity from Antiquity to Modernity, by Katerina Zacharia (Ashgate Publishing, 2008) is a collection of 15 essays by historians, classicists, anthropologists, ethnographers, cultural and comparative literature scholars exploring Greek ethnicity and the legacy of Greek culture for Greeks in the homeland and in the Diaspora, as well as for the ancient Romans and today’s Europeans.
We record with regret the death of writer and entrepreneur Christopher G. Janus, in Glenview, IL, on February 19, 2009. Educated at Harvard and Oxford, Janus began his writing career as a reporter for the Chicago Daily News, and later became a feature writer for The New York Times Sunday News Magazine. During World War II, as an economic assistant at the US State Department in Washington, and later as the Greek Desk Chief of the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Agency (UNRRA) in Cairo and Athens(1944-1945), he headed Greek War Relief and Rehabilitation programs; this experience had a great influence on his writing.
After the war, the author was involved in various entrepreneurial experiences, including imports and exports, and investment banking. At one time he owned Adolph Hitler’s Mercedes Benz, which he drove 20,000 miles across the United States raising relief funds for Greece. An obituary in the Chicago Sun-Times notes that Janus “was a big deal guy, an entrepreneur who operated on a worldwide scale.”
Janus was born March 25 (Greek Independence Day) in 1911 in Charleston, WV. Because his parents were recent Greek immigrants, they suffered severe discrimination, including threats from the Ku Klux Klan. The book and Disney film Miss 4th of July, Goodbye are about his family, especially his sister, who died along with his father and a brother during the Flu Pandemic of 1918.
Since his retirement from business, the author has devoted his time to writing, publishing and traveling. He founded and published the widely acclaimed Greek Heritage, The American Quarterly of Greek Culture. He was the author of several books, including The Search for the Peking Man, about his quest for lost 500,000-year-old fossils, which he co-authored with William Brashler.
Source: Press Office of the Embassy of Greece