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Turkish soldier fires at Frontex officers in Greece

Turkish soldier fires at German Frontex officers at Greece’s Evros border

01/05/2020 A dangerous incident took place at the Evros border netween Turkey and Greece, when Turkish soldiers fired warning shot and then aimed at German officers patrolling with border with Greece. According to an exclusive story by German magazine Der Spiegel the incident took place on April 28.

Frontex has deployed some 100 officers, among them 20 Germans, in Greece along the Evros border in March as part of the so-called RAPID intervention requested by Athens, when Turkey was pushing thousands of migrants to Europe.

The Turkish soldiers targeted German officials and fired at least one shot; it is unclear where the bullet went to.

No one was injured in the incident that was confirmed by both the European border protection agency Frontex and the German Ministry of Interior.

The incident occurred near the Greek town of Tychero

Citing an internal document of Frontex, Der Spiegel writes that “a Turkish soldier fired a shot at 7:15 p.m. on Tuesday evening when German officer were on the other side of the border.”

The German border guard reportedly heard a shot from the Turkish side of the border and he immediately took cover.

Through a pair of binoculars, the German border guards saw a Turkish soldier aiming an automatic weapon at the Greek side on the other side of the river shore.

Then the Turkish soldier showed his right middle finger and went back to his tent. Other soldiers would have shouted “come, come”. A short time later, six more Turkish soldiers had appeared and were once again aiming their weapons at the German and Greek border guards.

Frontex said on a Spiegel request that all the facts about the incident were with the Greek authorities.

The Turkish government was unavailable for comment on Thursday, the German magazine notes.

Germany has been participating in the Frontex mission in Greece for several years. It is mostly federal police officers who assist the Greek authorities in checking the border, but the state police also provide officials for the German Frontex force. By March there were usually around 60 civil servants.

A day after he incident, Greece’s deputy migration minister George Koumoutsakos had a teleconference with FRONTEX boss Fabrice Leggeri. The two men discussed the dispatch of additional reinforcements by Frontex to Greece in light of anticipated increased summer migrant arrivals.

COVID-19 Greece infections at 2,591; 140 fatalities

COVID-19 infections at 2,591; 140 fatalities

01/05/2020 Greek Health Ministry representative Sotiris Tsiodras on Thursday announced 15 new cases of coronavirus infections in the country, bringing the total nationwide to 2,591.

Just one infected patient died in the past 24 hours, Tsiodras said, pushing the death toll to 140.

The number of coronavirus patients treated in Intensive Care Units (ICU) stood at 38, adding that 74 people had left ICU.

Tsiodras said Greek authorities have so far carried out a total of 75,170 tests.

Central Athens the Second Most Densely-Populated Area in Europe

Central Athens the Second Most Densely-Populated Area in Europe

01/05/2020 Central Athens is the second most densely-populated area of Europe, according to data published on Thursday by the European statistical service, Eurostat.

Two other areas of the Greek capital also feature in the top ten most densely populated areas, including South Athens at number five, and west Athens at number seven on the list.

In Paris, there were on average 21,044 people living per square kilometer(km2) (.038 square miles) of the city, a number which is by far the highest in the entire European Union. Several of the regions surrounding Paris also made this Top 10 list, including Hauts-de-Seine (9,371 persons per km2), Seine-Saint-Denis (6,979 persons per km2) and Val-de-Marne (5,774 persons per km2).

The second highest density in the EU was registered in Central Athens (Kentrikos Tomeas Athinon), with 10,436 persons per km2, with South Athens (Notios Tomeas Athinon; 7,498 persons per km2) and Western Athens (Dytikos Tomeas Athinon; 7,114 persons per km2) also making the Top 10.

The rest of the Top 10 list was made up by the Romanian capital city (Bucharest; 7,917 persons per km2) in fourth place, the Belgian capital city of Brussels (7,472 persons per km2) in sixth place and Spain’s autonomous city of Melilla on the North African coast (6,050 persons per km2) in ninth place.

Greece weather: Temperature on the rise, reaching up to 29°-30° C

Greece weather: Temperature on the rise, reaching up to 29°-30° C

30/04/2020 Temperatures in Greece are expected to rise in the last days of April, reaching 27-29 degrees Celsius in some areas and even climb to 30° C in the first days of May.

Sadly, no matter how high the temperatures, swimming and water sports are forbidden and organized beaches in Greece are closed since April 1 due to the pandemic.

Beaches are reportedly expected to open again sometime in June but with means to protect sunbathers and avoid crowding. However, swimming is allowed again as of May 4, 2020 according to the announcement by the Prime Minister earlier on Tuesday.

Greece, EU Mull Ways to Save Tourism from Catastrophe

Greece, EU Mull Ways to Save Tourism from Catastrophe

30/04/2020 European Union transport ministers will try on Wednesday to determine a set of common rules on how to save the tourism industry in the summer of 2020 as the coronavirus lockdown restrictions are being lifted gradually.

For Greece in particular, saving this sector is a question of life and death for the economy, as tourism is by far the largest money-making industry here.

It appears that the resumption of flights is the single greatest challenge facing Greece and the entire EU, with airlines and airports suffering billions of euros in damage from the lockdown.

According to reports, Greece and other EU countries are considering a number of approaches to the reopening of tourism, which include:

— Testing visitors for the coronavirus before they even travel to the destination country. Tourists would therefore need a clean health passport before they embark on their journey.

— Or, alternately, testing visitors upon arrival at the country’s airports, which many see as practically impossible to apply to all passengers. The sheer volume of visitors and the lack of rapid diagnostic tests with the molecular method, which is considered the most reliable, make this approach very problematic.

Greece Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis announced on Tuesday that all-season hotels in Greece can open on June 1, but seasonal hotels, which are of course scattered in their thousands in every corner of the country will have to wait.

Authorities are mulling over measures hotels should take to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. They are considering the possibility of maintaining a group of empty rooms or even an empty floor in each accommodation, just in case guests need to be isolated with symptoms the virus.

Yet another proposal is to designate one single hotel in every tourist area that can be used for this purpose.

For Greece, tourism accounts for about one fifth of its economy and one in four jobs. That means that, next to Cyprus, Greece’s heavy reliance on the industry makes it the European Union’s second most-exposed country in this sector.

This also means that with 16.4 percent of the workforce unemployed — among the highest in the European Union — this season’s blow to tourism may spell yet more economic trouble for Greece as a whole.

Speaking to Greek Reporter earlier in April, Grigoris Tasios, the President of the Greek Hoteliers Association, said that according to an optimistic scenario the tourist season will begin on July 1, months later than usual, knocking off almost 10 billion euros from tourist receipts this year.

NATO helicopter reported missing west of Kefalonia

NATO helicopter reported missing west of Kefalonia

30/04/2020 A helicopter participating in NATO’s Standing Maritime Group Two (SNMG2) was reported missing in the sea west of the Greek island of Kefalonia, according to Greekstate TV on Wednesday evening.

The plane was flying in Italian airspace when it disappeared from the radar.

ERT said an Italian and a Turkish frigate that were part of the operation were searching for the helicopter and the missing crew members.

Italy has so far not requested assistance from Greece. 

Monastiraki Square during lockdown

Monastiraki Square during lockdown

Coronavirus Lockdown Busts Myth of Unruly Greeks

29/04/2020  It was the beginning of March when the first cases of Covid-19 in Greece began to multiply. Springtime was smiling shyly and Greeks were already shedding their winter clothes and preparing for Easter, which was a month or so away.

It was March 11 when the government decided to shut down schools in certain areas, a measure that included all schools across the country just a few days later, when the coronavirus scare started spreading in earnest.

Only days before, it was announced that the crucial March 15 soccer game between Olympiacos and PAOK would be postponed indefinitely. It was also announced that the March 11 Europa League match between the British Wolves and Olympiacos in Piraeus would be played behind closed gates.

Soccer fans were fuming. They bombarded social media with colorful curses against the government, which was accused of being everything from a cruel dictatorship to a fascist regime.

Then, on March 22, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis announced that an even more draconian total lockdown would go into effect the following day.

Greeks were required to inform authorities if they left their own home, either by text message or, if stopped by police, with a signed form. They were allowed to leave only for work, to visit a doctor or pharmacy, to shop for food, walk a pet or exercise outdoors — briefly. These draconian measures still apply, but some of them will be lifted as of May 4.

Once the measures were enforced, some angry Greeks joined the previous voices of soccer fans in protest and condemnation. Social media became the ground where the Greeks’ rebellious spirit revolted against the authorities.

Yet that rebellious spirit somehow remained confined to computer and tablet screens. Some citizens did threaten that once covid-19 disappeared, they will have a “showdown” with the government for keeping them home.

Sadly, some of these “threats” came from members of the main opposition party.

Then it was the turn for religious Greeks to rebel. The lockdown applied to church services as well, and it was Easter time, the greatest religious feast of the entire year and the most revered Greek tradition of all. Additionally, travel outside one’s prefecture of residence was banned

Again, there was religious rage in social media, while some fanatics equalled the government to the Antichrist. But, again, the rebellion fortunately was exhausted on the keyboards of computers throughout the land.

There were also cases of schizophrenia, when the same person would accuse Boris Johnson of not taking preventive measures in Britain but at the same time complain that PM Mitsotakis was keeping them a prisoner in their own home.

However, to this day, the vast majority of Greeks did indeed stay home, washed their hands, wore masks and gloves when needed —and when not needed — and religiously watched the official head of the coronavirus watch, Sotiris Tsiodras, in his daily coronavirus update at 6 PM every evening.

In fact, polls show that the epidemiologist is the most popular person in Greece at the moment. Not to mention that the current prime minister leads polls by a huge margin over his main political opponent, Alexis Tsipras.

Who would have thought that the stubborn, unruly Greeks would be so compliant with the government-imposed lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

It was as if the pandemic instantly transformed Greeks into law-abiding, health-conscious, socially responsible citizens. Far from the stereotype of the Zorba-like let’s-enjoy-today-who-cares-about-tomorrow attitude or that of the careless, naive person that only cares about spending borrowed money on lavish vacations on Mykonos (before the economic crisis.)

Social media was also an educational platform for Greeks. Other than the odd wild conspiracy theory encountered here and there, they became informed, they learned about viruses — and they witnessed the horror stories of the disease from other countries.

At the same time Greeks became inventive, productive, some more social than when they were free to go out, some learned how to cook, others enjoyed books and movies they would have no time to watch afterward.

More importantly, families grew closer together, fathers had more time to play with their sons, couples had more time together, bonds tightened in the face of the slow torture the whole world is going through.

It seems that a new type of Greek will likely emerge from the quarantine: more aware, more inventive, more compassionate.

Less stubborn, less selfish, less vain.

More compliant, more realistic, more open minded, knowing how to read between the lines, how to evaluate what they read.

And by now, almost all Greek citizens have realized that by the time the lockdown is lifted, life will be different. And they seem to be accepting of that fact.

So the pandemic proved that the myth of the unruly, rebellious Greeks is just that. Greeks had already proved during the economic crisis, that when times get hard, they persevere.

They survived that crisis, and now they seem to be surviving the Covid-19 crisis as well — better than most.

Greek government unveils plan for easing restrictions athens greece

Greek government unveils plan for easing restrictions


Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Tuesday unveiled a long-awaited plan for the gradual lifting of restrictive measures imposed last month to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

In a televised speech that came 37 days after the government imposed a public lockdown to curb the pandemic, Mitsotakis thanked Greeks for adhering to the restrictions, noting that the country had become “an example” for the whole world. However, he said, social distancing and the use of masks must “become second nature” as “there can be no return to the pre-coronavirus reality.”

“This is not the epilogue of our ordeal but the continuation,” Mitsotakis said, adding that the guiding principle will be “stay safe.” The state apparatus, including the health service, is prepared for the next phase, he said, adding that the improved weather is expected to help curb the pandemic. A panel of experts is to review the plan every 24 hours.

The first phase of the plan is to begin on May 4 when some retail stores, including bookshops and hair salons, will reopen, with others to follow suit later in the month.

Also from May 4, citizens will no longer have to send an SMS or carry a document citing their reason for leaving their home but a ban on leaving the region where they live will remain in place.

Cafes and restaurants will be allowed to reopen from June 1, but only with outdoor seating, as will shopping malls and year-round hotels.

From May 4, churches will reopen for individual prayer, but with restrictions on the number of worshippers allowed inside the church, while services will be permitted to resume from May 17. Mitsotakis thanked Archbishop Ieronymos and the Greek clergy “for their understanding and cooperation.”

As for schools, they are to open gradually, starting on May 11 with students of senior high.

More details about the government’s plan were presented by the deputy minister to the prime minister, Akis Skertsos, who announced the creation of a permanent monitoring and intervention mechanism, “an observatory,” to combat the pandemic, record cases, and measure the risk index with the help of technological applications.

This will allow for the rapid implementation of measures, depending on the level of risk, he said.