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Crete & Greece
December 2014
Samaras: British Museum's 'loaning' of Marbles' statue to Russia
'an affront'
06 December 2014 ekathimerini
Responding to the British Museum's initiative to send one of the
Parthenon Marbles statues  to Russia on a loan, Prime Minister
Antonis  Samaras  said on Friday that the decision "was an affront
to the Greek people."
"The British dogma according to which the  Parthenon Marbles
are immovable is no longer applicable," Samaras said, noting that
the argument had  been contested in the  past by the construction
of Athens' Acropolis  Museum in response to British authorities'  
claim that the Greeks' have no acceptable venue for hosting  the Marbles.
The premier concluded his statement by saying that, "the Parthenon and its  sculptures were looted" and that
the sculptures' value was "inestimable."

The sculpture of the Greek river god Ilissos, a reclining male figure, is to be displayed in Russia's State
Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg from Saturday until January 18 to celebrate the museum's 250th
Fighter pilots safe after jet goes down off Crete
5 December 2014 ekathimerini

Two fighter pilots of the Hellenic Air Force were reported as being
safe and well  on Thursday after their jet went down off the
southern coast of Crete earlier in the day.
The pilots, who were flying the F16 jet as part of an
educational exercise, ejected from the craft before it
nosedived into the sea. They were rescued shortly after.
The accident is believed to have been cased by a mechanical
Possible Hotel & Accommodation VAT Increase in Greece Sparks Reactions
5 December 2014 GTP Travel News

Greek tourism professionals are up in arms over the government’s intention to
increase the Value Added Tax (VAT) rate for hotel accommodation from 6.5
percent at present to 13 percent.

According to the professionals, such a move would be destructive and harmful
for both tourism and the state. The news has caused a number of reactions from
Greek tourism bodies, hotel associations and business organizations.

Local reaction from Hania: “A possible VAT increase for hotels from 6.5 to 13 percent is unacceptable and
dangerous. This increase will create a number of negative effects on business, the economy and
employment. The future of the country is being compromised as the industry that has contributed greatly
during the crisis is being shot in the legs.”
The Hania hotel association also underlined the unfairness in regards to the special tax status of some
Greek islands.
“We expect an end to the differentiation of the VAT rate in accordance to the locations of destinations in
Greece. It is unacceptable that a hotel on the Aegean islands such as Rhodes, Kos and Mykonos pays an
almost 26 percent lower VAT rate than a hotel in Chania and on Crete in general. This differentiation has
led to unfair competition and also acts as a barrier to tourism investment in Crete.”
Commemoration of the victims of the sinking of the SS "Heraklion"
08 December 2014 Haniotika Nea

Relatives, friends and survivors of the greatest modern naval
tragedy that plunged Chania into mourning 48 years ago,
when the ship 'Heraklion'  was wrecked at Falkonera, gathered for
this year's memorial service in Talos Square, at the Hand

It was December 8, 1966 when the SS Heraklion ,  of the shipping
company Tipaldou, had departed from Chania to Piraeus.
In gale force winds, and after the overthrow of a truck in the garage deck, the ship sent out distress signals.
The ship sank with the loss of, according to official figures 246 people, but is estimated that the actual
number was much higher.

From the wreck  only 45 people survived, after being in the water awaiting rescue for many hours.

Today's commemorative event was attended, by among others, the mayor of Chania Tasos Vamvoukas and
representatives of ANEK shipping line.
Girl, aged 11, gives birth on Crete
15 December 2014 ekathimerini

An 11-year-old girl has given birth in Crete, doctors revealed on

The girl, a member of the island’s Roma community, was taken to the
hospital on Sunday night. Doctors performed a caesarean section to
deliver the child, which weighed 3.2 kilos,  and was said to be healthy.

The 11-year-old only discovered she was expecting a baby when she
reached the seventh month of her pregnancy.  Social services have begun an investigation to discover who is
the baby’s father.
Major rise in air arrivals this year
26 December 2014 ekathimerini

Nearly 1.9 million more foreign tourists arrived in Greece by air in
January-November 2014 than in the same period last year, according
to provisional figures compiled by the Association of Hellenic
Tourism Enterprises (SETE).

International arrivals at the country’s main airports in the year to
end-November amounted to 14.3 million, against 12.4 million in
the same period in 2013, or a yearly rise of 15.1 percent.

The biggest annual increase was seen at Kalamata Airport, at 86.5 percent, which exceeded 100,000 arrivals
for the first time. Myconos followed with a 39 percent rise (246,791 arrivals). Athens International Airport
posted the third-largest growth at 24.9 percent, or 720,000 arrivals, to rise above 3.2 million visitors from

Iraklio was the airport with the second-highest number of arrivals in the first 11 months of the year,
welcoming 2.6 million visitors from abroad.
Much of Greece to receive the New Year 'dressed in white'
31 December 2014

The major drop in temperature over the past few days has increased
the chance of Greece welcoming the New Year “dressed in white”,
as snowfall – particularly in the northern areas – has increased.

With the temperature in Attica near freezing, there is a strong chance
of snowfall in the city center of Athens. The residents of Thessaloniki
have already seen major snowfall, while western parts of Macedonia
will see temperature drop to 20 below freezing.

The weather conditions in the islands will be marginally better, with temperatures not expected to exceed 13
degrees in Crete and the Cycladic Islands and 17 in the eastern parts of the Aegean and the Dodecanese.

The strong wings in the Aegean, which have range between 40 to 50 knots, have affected maritime transport,
with a ban on the sailing of ships announced for the ports of Piraeus, Rafina and Lavrio.
Norman Atlantic tragedy: 10 dead and 36 still missing
30 December 2014

All passengers and crew members have been evacuated from the
Norman Atlantic, which went up in flames early on Sunday,
thanks to the efforts of the Greek and Italian services. Ten
people died in the tragedy, with two of the victims having being
found inside the burnt vessel.

At present the Italian authorities are identifying those rescued
by cross-referencing them with the passenger list, while rescue
teams continue to search the ship’s interior for more people who may still be trapped. It was reported on
Monday that one person who died while trying to escape the burning vessel was a Greek, while Italian
authorities confirmed that a second victim was a Greek national.

There is some confusion as to the number of people who were on board the Norman Atlantic. Greek
authorities claim that 432 people were rescued from the 478 on-board, with 36 people still missing. The
Italian Minister of Defense Roberta Pinotti however told journalist that 427 people were rescued, of the 458
on-board, with a further 23 still missing. Meanwhile ANEK, the Greek shipping company that had leased out
the Norman Atlantic, claims that there were 475 people on-board. The confusion appears to stem from the
difference in the passenger list and the list of reservations.
Early election for Greece after PM loses vote on president
29 December 2014  Reuters

Greece heads to an early general election next month after
parliament rejected Prime Minister Antonis Samaras's nominee
for president on Monday, throwing the country into a new period of
political turmoil.

Greek 10-year bond yields surged to a 15-month high and stocks
tumbled after former European Commissioner Stavros Dimas fell short
of the 180 votes needed to become president in the decisive third round
of voting, triggering the dissolution of parliament.

Samaras set Jan. 25 as the date for a parliamentary election.

Opinion polls point to a victory by the radical leftist Syriza party, which wants to wipe out a big part of the
national debt, and cancel the austerity terms of a 240-billion euro ($290 billion) bailout from the European
Union and International Monetary Fund that Greece still needs to pay its bills.