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Thursday, 31 May 2012

In the Village Square (Zagori)

Has summer finally arrived in the Zagori?

After weeks of  thunderstorms and torrential downpours, life is returning to normal in the village square. The mobile greengrocer arrives, coffee or tsipouro is served, Othonas the dog dozes under the plane tree, beside the village cistern; a group portrait of villagers of long ago appears miraculously on an old stone slab.

Above, stone plaque, the communal  village cistern

Final Spring Clean, now the rains have stopped...
Spoke too soon.

The Twentieth International Thomas Hardy Conference and Festival

It looks like an exciting programme this year.

The Song of Achilles, Orange Prize Winner, Madeline Miller

This Madeline Miller novel has just won the Orange Prize.

Madeline Miller on Ancient Greek Myth (Telegraph)

"It's in your hands" - "We are not the problem"

In the hands of the Greeks (in Greek)

Brussels warning (in English)

(Kathimerini, 31 May)

"Living in phantasy land?"- "We are not the problem"

CNN, Christine Amanpour interview with George Papandreou

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Ancient Roman Shipwrecks found nearly a mile deep between Corfu and Italy

Fascinating discovery

Daily Mail

They probably had no idea how deep it was.

Unemployment Statistics in a Tourism Economy such as Greece

I have been looking for information about how unemployment rates and statistics are calculated for a country like Greece, where tourism is a major sector of the economy. Perhaps some kind reader can enlighten me?

The EU publishes various tables, such as this one, but it doesn't offer much insight, and the data is quite old.

The Hellenic Statistical Authority (EL.STAT) provides more data, and states:

"Unemployed are persons aged 15-74 who were without work during the reference week (they were not classified as employed), were currently available for work and were either actively seeking work in the past four weeks or had already found a job to start within the next three months. Inactive are those persons who are not classified as employed or as unemployed".

Reporting on the rates for March 2012, The Telegraph reported (June 7):

"The Greek statistics agency said there were 21,625 more people unemployed in March compared with February, a 2.1pc increase.

Young people have been the most affected by the job losses, with more than half – 52.8pc – of those in the 15-24 age group out of work in March, compared to 42pc in the same month last year. The figure dropped slightly from February, but experts said some of those classed as unemployed will be in full-time education."

Athens News update.

NB. No wonder the Greek unemployment rates look so high, if the Statistical Authority is counting everyone from age 15-74. In many other EU countries, the official school leaving age is set at 16 or 18. How many countries include in the "unemployed" statistics people past the official State Pensionable Age, up to age 74, as in Greece?

Simple question: if someone is employed in the tourist sector for six months of the year, from the beginning to the end of the tourist season, let's say from May to October, but is 'unemployed' for the remainder of the year (although that person may seek and find some paid work in the official, part-time or 'black' economy for part or all of that time) does that person appear as unemployed or as employed in statistics gathered and published, let us say, for the month of December or March, or indeed for the whole year?

Unofficial (Partial) Answer: it would seem that many people working as waiters or workers in the tourist industry may in fact be officially registered as unemployed for the whole year, and that their summer season employers simply top them up with cash payments for the period (maybe five months) that they are employed, in the summer "black economy".

I've been reading last Sunday's Economics Section of Kathimerini, an article by Leonidas Stergios (27 May, 2012, p.12)which deals with unemployment, the 'inadequate' educational system and the labour market for young people in Greece. He reports that more than fifteen percent of unemployed young people are not seeking employment, if I understand the article correctly.

If I do, figures from OAED seem to suggest that of the 932,556 individuals registered as unemployed in Greece in April 2012, there were 154,157 who were not seeking work. The majority of those not seeking work (around 118,00) were unemployed for less than twelve months.

The widely-disseminated and appalling rates of  unemployment of young people in Greece (February 2012) indicate that for the 15-24 age group, unemployment stands at 53.8%; for the 25-34 age group it's 29.1%.

Relatively high unemployment benefits (circa 530 Euros a month for a year), in comparison to wages, may mean that some young people prefer to work part-time (perhaps earning 600 Euros a month) and to remain officially "unemployed". Long drawn-out studies also keep young people out of the employment market. They may obtain academic titles and qualifications, but they don't obtain useful work experience, yet they want to find 'dignified employment' in the sectors to which they aspire, the writer seems to argue in Kathimerini.

I'm not sure where all this leads me. What I would like to have explained is the following:

If a young person (whether or not registered on a long-drawn-out course of higher education), works in the tourist sector during the busy summer season- when most of the annual income is typically made in that sector- but is registered as unemployed (whether or not finding casual or "part-time" work) for much of the non-tourism season, is that person counted as "unemployed" in the overall official annual statistics? Does it make a difference at which period of the year those statistics are collected or published?

Surely it must make a difference to the picture we have of unemployment rates in a heavily tourism-oriented economy?

I admit my ignorance of statistics and of  these matters. I am simply curious.

On the university sector

On the cost of "shadow" education

Information from OAED, rules and regulations about entitlement to unemployment benefit (not studied in detail):



Μισθωτοί των οποίων καταγγέλθηκε από τον εργοδότη ή έληξε η σύμβαση εργασίας και που έχουν ασφαλισθεί στον κλάδο ανεργίας του ΟΑΕΔ μπορούν με ορισμένες προϋποθέσεις να εισπράξουν από τον ΟΑΕΔ επίδομα ανεργίας.


Οι νόμοι και οι αποφάσεις που καλύπτουν την παροχή είναι οι εξής:

· ν.δ.2961/1954 (άρθρα 11-38)

· ν.1545/85 (άρθρα 3-8)

· ν.1836/89 (άρθρα 15-24)

· ν.1892/1990 (άρθρο 37)

· ν.3552/4.4.07 (άρθρο 5)


Η αίτηση υποβάλλεται εντός 60 ημερών από την ημερομηνία απόλυσης στην αρμόδια Υπηρεσία του τόπου κατοικίας του δικαιούχου.

Οι περιπτώσεις, που οι αιτήσεις υποβάλλονται κατά το πρώτο 7ημερο μετά την απόλυση, επιδοτούνται από την 7η ημέρα, ενώ όσες υποβάλλονται σε μεταγενέστερο διάστημα επιδοτούνται από την ημερομηνία υποβολής της αίτησης.


Αν επιδοτείται για πρώτη φορά:

· Ο ασφαλισμένος πρέπει να έχει πραγματοποιήσει 80 ημέρες εργασίας το χρόνο κατά τα δύο προηγούμενα χρόνια, πριν από την επιδότησή του. Το τελευταίο όμως 14μηνο πρέπει να έχει συμπληρώσει 125 ημέρες εργασίας, χωρίς να υπολογίζονται οι τελευταίοι δύο μήνες.

· Επίδομα ανεργίας δικαιούται και ο ασφαλισμένος που έχει πραγματοποιήσει στα δύο προηγούμενα, πριν από την απόλυσή του χρόνια, 200 ημέρες εργασίας (χωρίς να υπολογίζονται οι δύο τελευταίοι μήνες), από τις οποίες 80 ημέρες, το λιγότερο το χρόνο.

Αν επιδοτείται για δεύτερη φορά:

Ο ασφαλισμένος πρέπει να έχει πραγματοποιήσει 125 ημέρες εργασίας το τελευταίο 14μηνο, πριν από την απόλυσή του, χωρίς να υπολογίζονται (στις 125) οι ημέρες εργασίας των δύο τελευταίων μηνών.

Για τους απασχολούμενους σε τουριστικά επαγγέλματα (ή και εποχιακά π.χ. μουσικοί, ηθοποιοί κ.α ) αρκούν 100 ημέρες εργασίας το τελευταίο 12μηνο.


Η διάρκεια της επιδότησης εξαρτάται από το πόσες ημέρες εργασίας έχει πραγματοποιήσει ο ασφαλισμένος στα προαναφερόμενα κρίσιμα χρονικά διαστήματα (14μηνο, 12μηνο ή διετία).







Ημέρ. Εργας Ημέρ. Εργας Ημέρ. Εργας

 125-1491 100-149 100-149 5 μήνες

150-1792 150-179 150-179 6 μήνες

180-2193 180-219 180-219 8 μήνες

220-249 220-249 220-249 10 μήνες

250 και άνω 250 και άνω 250 και άνω 12 μήνες

210 και συμπλήρωση 210 και άνω 210 και συμπλήρωση 12 μήνες

του 49ου έτους ηλικίας του 49ου έτους ηλικίας

1. Ή 200 στη διετία

2. Ή 250 στη διετία

3. Ή 300 στη διετία

Το επίδομα καταβάλλεται μια φορά το μήνα για 25 ημέρες.

Από 12.03.2012 το μηνιαίο επίδομα ανεργίας ανέρχεται στα 360,00 Ευρώ.

Για κάθε μέλος της οικογένειας το επίδομα προσαυξάνεται κατά 10%.

Παρέχεται η δυνατότητα στους μισθωτούς, της μεταφοράς του δικαιώματος ανεργίας, στα Κράτη – Μέλη της Ευρωπαϊκής Ένωσης για αναζήτηση εργασίας, με βάση στον Κανονισμό 1408/71/ΕΟΚ (Έντυπο Ε303 για μεταφορά επιδότησης) με την προϋπόθεση ότι:

· Έχουν εγγραφεί πριν από την αναχώρησή τους στην αρμόδια Υπηρεσία Απασχόλησης για αναζήτηση εργασίας και έχουν παραμείνει στη διάθεση των Υπηρεσιών αυτών τουλάχιστον 4 εβδομάδες μετά την έναρξη της ανεργίας τους.

· Έχουν εγγραφεί εντός 7 ημερών στις αρμόδιες Υπηρεσίες του Κράτους – Μέλους όπου μεταβαίνουν. Το δικαίωμα μεταφοράς διατηρείται για 3 μήνες , κατά ανώτατο όριο.


1. Έγγραφο Καταγγελίας Σύμβασης Εργασίας ή βεβαίωση Λήξης Σύμβασης Ορισμένου χρόνου.

2. Το έντυπο «Βεβαίωση Εργοδότη» το οποίο συμπληρώνει ο εργοδότης σύμφωνα με τις εγγραφές της ΑΠΔ (Αναλυτική Περιοδική Δήλωση που υποβάλλεται στο ΙΚΑ) του τελευταίου τριμήνου πριν από την καταγγελία της σύμβασης εργασίας. Το έντυπο αυτό θα φέρει πρωτότυπη σφραγίδα και υπογραφή του εργοδότη, χωρίς κάποια επιπλέον σφραγίδα επικύρωσης από το αρμόδιο κατάστημα του ΙΚΑ-ΕΤΑΜ.

3. Οικογενειακό βιβλιάριο Ασθενείας, εφόσον υπάρχουν συντηρούμενα μέλη.

4. Πρόσφατο Εκκαθαριστικό Σημείωμα Εφορίας ή εφόσον δεν υπάρχει, επικυρωμένο αντίγραφο της τελευταίας δήλωσης εισοδήματος.

5. Αστυνομική Ταυτότητα του ασφαλισμένου.

6. Αποδεικτικό διεύθυνσης κατοικίας του ασφαλισμένου (π.χ. λογαριασμός ΔΕΗ, ΟΤΕ, ΕΥΔΑΠ).

7. Υπεύθυνη Δήλωση Ν. 1599/86, την οποία θα συμπληρώσει ο ενδιαφερόμενος σύμφωνα με τις υποδείξεις της Υπηρεσίας.

8. Λογαριασμό Εθνικής Τραπέζης (ΙΒΑΝ) στον οποίο είναι πρώτος δικαιούχος.

"Insufficient Progress", European Commission Report on Greece

Bloomberg reports on the latest European Commission Report

“Greece will ... have to make substantial additional expenditure cuts in the coming months...Comprehensive international financial assistance can continue to be provided only if policy implementation improves.”
The commission cited “insufficient progress” by Greece in bolstering tax collection and improving public procurement and said the sale of state-owned assets has been “slower than planned.”

Reuters reports


Full EC report

Weymouth Hotels and the Olympics

Dorset Echo reports on low bookings

Update on the issue

Doc Watson has died

The greatest of them all, Doc Watson, has died.

Denver Post

Los Angeles Times

New York Times


My own posting on Doc Watson , July 2010


Farther Along

Precious Lord, Take My Hand

John Hardy

You Must Come In At The Door

and some more: Doc Watson and Dr. John!

Mandouki Residents Protest About Illegal Immigrants (Corfu)

A Corfiot blog addresses the issue of the growing number of illegal immigrants living in abandoned or unfinished buildings in Mandouki. The issue has been arousing increasingly strong public feelings and a growing sense of insecurity in the Corfu suburb (23 May). Full report from

In the UK, there's a different set of considerations

See more local Corfu news in Greek on

Meanwhile in central Athens, illegal immigration is causing an intensification of racist attitudes (Hellas Frappe)

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

European Stereotypes and Perceptions

New York Times report on poll about "who works the hardest" in Europe.

The truth lies elsewhere, according to this blog, citing OECD statistics.

OECD Country Statistical Profile for Greece

Bust of Edward Lear unveiled in Corfu

Athens News report on the unveiling of the bust.

For the works exhibited in the Corfu Bicentenary Edward Lear Exhibition, go to

Click on 'The Works'.

Very useful thumbnails of many works I have never seen before.

Greece: Increasing Taxes? Avoiding Taxes?

Keep Talking Greece on the 'tax tsunami' and deemed incomes

Kathimerini (English edition), re Amadeu Altafaz-Tardio: "The European Commission's spokesperson for Economic and Monetary Affairs, Amadeu Altafaj said on Tuesday that Greece needs to do more to clamp down on tax evasion".

Kathimerini (Greek): "...ο Α. Αλταφάζ υπογράμμισε την ανάγκη καταπολέμησης της φοροδιαφυγής στην Ελλάδα. Ειδικότερα, ο κ. Αλταφάζ δήλωσε ότι η καταπολέμηση της φοροδιαφυγής αποτελεί βασικό στοιχείο του δεύτερου προγράμματος για την Ελλάδα και πως οι ελληνικές αρχές, μαζί με την Ομάδα Δράσης, εργάζονται στενά προς αυτό τον σκοπό."

Comments from Amadeu Altafaz-Tardio, in English, on tax fraud (J.P.Morgan):

"Tardio also said the EC and Greek authorities both believe more can be done to prevent tax fraud in Greece.
He said combating tax fraud is a "fundamental element" in a second bailout package for Greece."

Inside Greece, Nick Malkoutzis.

Inside Greece, Nick Malkoutzis (2)- an update of 31 May, putting the topic of tax evasion in a wider context

Tax Evasion in Greece, The Reality (in Greek) Pdf

Tax revenue shortfall (Kathimerini)

Spiegel Online from 8 May (one I'd missed): 'Germans Won't Pay for Greece's Vacation from Reality'

Archaeological Museum of Ioannina, More Finds- and a Controversy

(Above) Bronze idol from Dodoni, armed infantry soldier

Boy god, Dionysus (?)

Finds from the 'Nekromanteion' (evidence of  a bronze windlass with mechanical trickery, or was the building in fact a fortified farmhouse armed with catapults? See discussion in my "The Ionian Islands and Epirus, A Cultural History", page 30)

The Fall of Constantinople, 1453

Today marks the anniversary of the Fall of Constantinople in 1453 (Julian calendar).

By coincidence I happen to be reading Steven Runciman's "The Fall of Constantinople 1453" (Cambridge University Press, 1965). A fascinating book, much more readable than I had imagined. Runciman writes (p 189): "The date of 29 May 1453 marks a turning-point in history. It marks the end of an old story, the story of Byzantine civilization".

Runciman writes about the beginning of the siege of Constantinople, Easter 1453 (p. 86):

"...there was little joy in the hearts of the people of Constantinople on Easter Sunday, 1453. It fell upon 1 April. After a stormy winter spring was coming to the Bosphorus. In the orchards throughout the city the fruit-trees were bursting into flower. The nightingales were returning to sing in the copses and the storks to build their nests on the roof-tops. The sky was streaked with long lines of migratory birds flying to their summer homes away in the north. But Thrace was rumbling with the sounds of a great army on the move, of men and horses and of oxen pulling their creaking wagons."

'Empty Threats' and Crocodile Tears?

Reuters report about some 'modern Greek myths'

Cooling Cornish Pasties Safe from VAT

Good news from Reuters! U-Turn on Cornish pasties.

Allotments in Greece, at last

The BBC reports on 'ingenuity and allotments' in Athens.

One for Democracy Street to follow up.

Allotments for Corfu? Surely it's high time.

Allotments, Thessaloniki

Gathering Olives, Boissonas, Atkinson (1911), Axiotis

Look again: it could be Corfu, but it's Crete (Preveli, 1911).
Can one tell from the women's clothing?
 Compare the Boissonnas photograph with Sophie Atkinson's painting of olive-gathering in Corfu
 at around the same period, from "An Artist in Corfu" (1911).

Neither image makes olive-gathering look like the hard, back-breaking job it is in reality.

Not so bad for the man on the right! Stratis Axiotis, Liomazima

The olive harvest (Black Figure Amphora)

Barthes and the Blogosphere

Nigel Scott, Excapite, with some thought-provoking consideration of the blog in its cultural context, as provider of units of media and semiological meaning: "Cars and Barthes and Phones".

Thanks to Bronwen for recommending Excapite.

Monday, 28 May 2012

International Oak Society in Zagori and North West Greece, 2011 Visit Report

This report (February 2012) makes interesting reading for those interested in the fascinating variety of oak trees to be found in North West Greece.

I met some of the participants in the Zagori last year.

I've started to look at wild oak trees in the Vikos Gorge a lot more closely. OK, as long as I don't get tempted to worship a sacred oak! See The Golden Bough, The Worship of the Oak

Identification of species (not very helpful in Zagori)

Ioannina Museum, Inscriptions



Ioannina Archaeological Museum, Sarcophagus

Marble sarcophagus with scenes from Homer's Iliad in relief:
Priam pleading with Achilles for Hector's dead body.

Roman Era, AD 2nd Century.

Lamenting around Hector's dead body.

Ioannina Archaeological Museum, Bronze Eagle, Dodoni

Bronze Eagle, Dodona

(added after comments below)

Excavated in 1967

From Julia Vokotopoulou's Guide to Ioannina Museum (Odigos Mouseiou Ioanninon, Athens,1973)

Ioannina Archaeological Museum

This is the first time I've visited the museum since it reopened. It was closed between 2003-2008, during which time it was modernized and completely refurbished. It's very impressive.

Byzantine Banking

Byzantine historians enter the fray

Financial Collapse? Papademos' Warning.

Keep Talking Greece has a dilemma: where to hide his cash?

Secret Emergency Liquidity Assistance (ELA), FT article

Wall Street Journal: Banks were 'technically insolvent'



Hugo Dixon, Reuters

A Financial Redemption Fund? Bloomberg

Corfu and Dodoni, Corcyra/Dodona

Lead strips from the Oracle at Dodona (Archaeological Museum of Ioannina);
questions to the Oracle posed by Corfiots.
Two Corcyraean questions to Zeus and other gods:

"To which god or hero should we make sacrifices? Which should we invoke, so that we can rule our land in the best and safest possible way, and have a rich and good crop?"

"Which gods or heroes should we submit to?"

It might be a good time to consult the Oracle at Dodona once again.
There are a number of questions that come to mind these difficult days.

At Dodoni, 1968

Four short poems.


A Corfiot scourge!
She chatters
Like knuckle-bones striking a cauldron.

Dodona Oracle, Easter 2000

The leaves are not rustling,
The pigeons don't fly-
But the wild flowers are saying
"You'll live till you die."


Lord Zeus of wintry Dodona-
Postpone our struggle
With crafty Charon.

Oracular Seeds

 I planted acorns from Dodona
To grow my own
Prophetic tree.

(from Corfu Blues, the book)

Ancient Vitsa in the Archaeological Museum of Ioannina.

Yesterday I spent a very productive few hours at the Archaeological Museum of Ioannina, looking closely at the finds from Ancient Vitsa and from Dodona, as well as from other parts of Epirus.

I will post photographs of the some of the most important Vitsa finds. I include a few below. I would also like to pay tribute to the work of an old friend, the archaeologist, excavator and museum director, Dr. Ioulia Vokotopoulou (1939-1995). Her three-volume work, "Vitsa, The cemeteries of a Molossian settlement", Ministry of Culture, Athens, 1986, is an essential reference work in connection to a visit to Vitsa and to the museum. Volume 1 has an invaluable summary in English, pp 351-377.

Ioannina Museum Guide, Ioulia Vokotopoulou, 1973

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Moukliomos, "Gypsy Folk Rock Jazz" Live at the Mushroom Festival, Ano Pedina, Zagori; Γιάννης Χαλδούπης

Yiannis Chaldoupis, Moukliomos Band

Christos Halilopoulos, Moukliomos Band

YouTube 1

YouTube 2

YouTube 3

My Space

It would be great to hear Yiannis and Moukliomos play with Dimos Dimitriadis in Corfu- a battle of sax and clarinet!

Boissonnas, Photographs of Greece, Exhibition at Monodendri, Zagori

Yesterday I visited the wonderful museum of photography at the Rizareios Exhibition Centre in Monodendri, Zagori, which is currently showing a number of amazing photographs of Greece by F. Boissonnas and by Underwood and Underwood (including early stereoscopic views)."Once Upon a Time in Greece" is the name of the exhibition.

Here is a good link to a collection of photographs by Boissonas, including several of Corfu:

And several from the Zagori:

and Ioannina...



and one of olive gathering in Crete...