Growing Up Black in Greece: A Diplomat’s Daughter Recalls

Black in Greece
Black in Greece. Patricia Kumbakisaka in Athens, Greece. Photo courtesy of Patricia Kumbakisaka

Growing up black in Greece? Patricia Kumbakisaka, 31, one of Canada’s most accomplished young black women, has done it as she has lived quite the international life.

As a diplomat’s daughter, she had the opportunity to fully embrace the lifestyle and culture of several European countries including Athens, Greece.

Her parents worked in the diplomatic service, representing the Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly Zaire). They were posted to Bucharest, Romania in 1984, but later served in Hungary as well as Russia.

Kumbakisaka was actually born in Bucharest, Romania in 1989. Before long, however, her parents were posted to Athens, so at the age of three she moved to Greece; she ended up living there for the next seven years, for the formative years of her life.

Surprisingly, the diplomat’s daughter was not put into a school where English was spoken; her parents wanted her to enter fully into the Greek experience, so she was placed at Greek-language pre-schools and elementary schools in Athens.

Only child of color

“Growing up in the Greek capital in the 1990s was a very interesting experience for me in so many ways,” the now Canadian citizen notes.

In both of her schools, she was the only child of color — “back then, there were very few people of color in the whole of Greek society.”

Kumbakisaka’s experience was unique, however, because her elementary school years in the country were actually some of the best of her life.

She made many friends, acted in school plays, and excelled in her classes. “I am still in contact with the friends I made during my school-years in Greece.”

After traveling the world during her very cosmopolitan life, she can speak English, Greek, French, Romanian, and Swahili fluently.

“Growing up in Greece was so great,” Kumbakisaka says.

No experience of discrimination in Greece

“I have one of the best friends that I am still in touch with today… we FaceTime, talk on Facebook, Whats App, etc. I go see them when I am in Greece and some have even been to Canada as well.

“Yes, I stood out as the only black girl, but I didn’t experience any discrimination,” Kumbakisaka relates.

“My friends were nice to me, my teachers were very good and of course there were days people would ask questions, such as about my hair — how cool it looked. But I was never called names or insults.

“I think it is also because I was used to growing up around people that didn’t have the same skin color as me or (come from) the same country; I had friends from Bulgaria, the US, Cambodia, Romania, Albania, a few countries in Africa, etc.

“Also,” Kumbakisaka adds, “I was raised in a home where we would see everyone the same and (would) not discriminate on (the basis of) color or language. I am glad my parents put me in a Hellenic elementary school and not a French or English one, because that way I got to learn more about the Greek mentality and culture.

“I encourage many diplomats today now that are posted overseas to really try to put their children in a school where they are teaching in the native language, for the child to become adapted – it will pay off in the future,” she says.

From Greece to diplomatic service?

Now residing in the Canadian capital of Ottawa, Kumbakisaka hopes to work in the diplomatic service, even perhaps as an ambassador, representing Canada.

The world traveler studied political science, with a specialization in international relations, at the University of Manitoba and she also undertook extended research at the Department of Peace Studies and Conflict Resolution at the University of Ottawa.

She has also received a certificate from the University of London in Global Diplomacy and has conducted research work with UNITAR on a general introduction to the relationship between human rights, international legal and foreign policy, and the work of the United Nations.

Kumbasaka was Chair of the Human Rights Council for the UN Youth Association of Romania; she also worked with foreign officials on projects related to local laws, as well as cultural, economic and political conditions, in Canada and other nations.

Canada chose her for its youth delegate to the UN, where she had the opportunity to elevate her voice in international dialogues, empowered youth to advocate for future generations, and mobilize youth as agents of impact change.

Kumbasaka continues to advocate for youth, and ensure that their voices are heard loud and clear in the public sphere.

Greece, however, will always be the second home of the diplomat’s daughter. Kumbasaka still speaks and writes the language fluently and she is in touch with her friends there each and every day.

The country of Greece, she says, has — and will have forever — a very special place in her heart.

Greek Sitcom Captivates Diaspora in Germany

Greek sitcom
A scene from the Greek/German sitcom ”Familie Foukara.” Credit: Screenshot from Greek Theater Art’s series on Youtube

A Greek sitcom called ”Familie Foukara”, that was created by Greek actors and actresses who live in Germany, has a new TV series airing on Youtube.

The group called ”Greek Theater Art” created this mini-series with the assistance of Bessy Malfa, a prominent Greek actress.

The series is a fast-paced comedy, with an excellent sense of humor, that shows the intricacies of the Greek community in today’s Germany.

The Story of the ”Familie Foukara”

The series, which takes place in Germany, showcases the character of the inimitable Greek mother, but in a much darker and surreal version of the well-known trope.

Why should you trust everyone, but at the same time, why would you not trust anyone?

Vilma Foukara, played by Bessy Malfa, the main character of the series, has her reasons to be suspicious of everyone.

This is the reason why she constantly creates problems in the lives of others, but at the same time, makes her presence necessary to almost everyone.

The first “victim” of Vilma is her son, Chris Foukaras, a descendant of the wealthy Greek family in Germany, who knows how to live the good life.

Chris, however, faces a crucial dilemma; what is the main priority in his life? Is it just money alone that brings happiness?

What should he prioritize? Love or career? What happens when a simple waitress becomes his closest — and sometimes annoying — friend? How should he react? Is her class an obstacle or not?

Another crucial question that the series explores is what will Asimina, Chris’ friend decide?

What does she really have in mind for him? Viewers will need to find out what the truth is behind her actions.

And this is where Chris’ mother intervenes — of course. Having completely different plans for her son, just like any other Greek mother would, Vilma naturally plays a prominent role in her son’s life.

However, who knows what is better for us than ourselves? Should Chris even listen to his mother?

The Cast

This is the main storyline of ”Familie Foukara,” where love, tension, intrigues, and upheavals, are all intertwined in a very humorous way.

This is also the reason why this new Greek series is guaranteed to make you laugh and possibly even make you identify with one of the main characters.

The full cast of the production includes Béssy Málfa, Giannis Boúsdros, Fotiní Topoúzoglou, María Sirkelídou, Giánnis Róvas, Chrysa Vasíliou, Rafaelia Pangídou, Dionísis Gkenés, Stérgios Ziákas, Marínos Kótsoglou, Réna Márkou, Ioánna Níkou, and Charálampos Moschópoulos.

The writers of the series are Bessy Malfa and Giannis Bousdros.

The series is directed by Stefanos Kontomaris and Bessy Malfa.

Bringing Folk Music from Rhodes into the Modern Age

Rhodes folk music
Nikos Tzellos. Credit: Nikos Tzellos

Regional folk music is an integral part of an area’s history, linking contemporary society to aspects of culture and tradition that are no longer in practice, or have been largely forgotten.
For this reason, Nikos Tzellos, a young musician from the Greek island of Rhodes, has made it his mission to revive the folk music of his native island for the modern era.
Speaking to Greek Reporter, Tzellos, who plays a wide array of instruments, including the piano, lyre, guitar, mandolin, and lute, stresses the importance of preserving traditional folk music: “Traditional music is something holy to us… we traditional musicians ought to preserve and promote what has been given to us.”
As is the case in much of Greece, “in Rhodes, tourism greatly affected the local culture and the music…characteristics that have survived through the ages” are now nearing “extinction,” Tzellos laments to Greek Reporter.

Rhodes folk music
Tzellos discussing the beauty of an antique lyre with Giorgos Sentis, on left. Credit: Nikos Tzellos

Restoring Tradition

In order to combat the loss of precious cultural remnants of Rhodes’ history, Tzellos took it upon himself to revive the island’s traditional music for the modern age.
Using a traditional “Sousta” song from southern Rhodes as his inspiration, Tzellos recorded his own version of the 100-year-old song using authentic instruments from the time period, along with some musical elements more familiar to the modern ear.
When Tzellos heard of an old, damaged lyre hanging in a historic home in Afantou, Rhodes, he was on a mission to restore it. The lyre is commonly found throughout the island’s folk music and has links to Greece’s ancient past.
With the help of his friend and fellow lyre player, Manolis Lentakis, Tzellos carefully examined the 150-year-old instrument, and the pair went about refurbishing the traditional instrument.
When it was finally restored to its former glory, Tzellos was able to use the lyre in his recording of the folk song “Sousta.” Tzellos used chords and compositions for the song that he had found in old books on the island.
“Sousta,” as a genre, is widely found across the Greek islands, with each island and region developing its own specific compositions and dances to accompany the music. The basis for this musical tradition is thought to date back to ancient Greek rituals to appease the gods.
However, the dance became associated with courtship throughout the successive centuries, and is traditionally performed between couples at weddings.

Rhodes folk music
Credit: Nikos Tzellos

Keeping the Past Alive

Importantly, Tzellos keeps his renditions of folk songs very authentic, just adding subtle elements that make them fresh. Rather than “spoiling the true sound” of folkloric music, Tzellos adds what he calls an “air of 2020” to the songs, some of them over 100 years old, through adding bass and percussion.
While some may consider these modern elements to be unwelcome additions to traditional songs, Tzellos firmly believes that it is important to make folk music relevant to our current era.
“We need to modernize our music in order to keep it alive… the radical changes in our everyday lives are too great for these cultural traits to survive,” the musician explains. “We can give them a hand,” Tzellos continues, “and with the correct handling, tradition will remain alive.”
It seems to be working — young people on Rhodes have become more interested in traditional music and dancing, especially in weddings and panigyria, or traditional Greek festivals, where the track list is usually half folk music half modern Greek music.
When asked what his favorite part of performing his island’s traditional music is, Tzellos responds “filling people with joy and the mood to dance…”
When he plays, everyone “becomes one… there is this communication between us, and we are all smiling, singing and having fun.”

President Anastasiades Welcomes New Cyprus Peace Talks

Cyprus President Anastasiades at UN
Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades. Credit: Republic of Cyprus Press and Information Office handout

Cypriot President Nikos Anastasiades on Thursday hailed the United Nations bid to resume peace talks over his divided island, saying he would attend the upcoming parleys, to be held April 27-29.

The United Nations-hosted meeting, to be held in April with the leader of the Turkish Cypriots of occupied northern Cyprus stated that he had the “full political will” to get the long-dormant peace talks going again.

“Strong determination” for Cyprus

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will be the official host of the informal meeting held in the neutral country, which will also be attended by the foreign ministers of Cyprus’ guarantor nations – Greece, Turkey and Britain.

Anastasiades issued a statement expressing his “strong determination” to attempt to discover a common ground with Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar at their upcoming meeting in Geneva, Switzerland.

The political situation on the Mediterranean island has been a thorn in the side of the three countries since the invasion of Cyprus in the summer of 1974.

Latest attempt to seek peaceful, long-term solution

Alone among all the nations of the world, only Turkey officially recognizes the Turkish Cypriot declaration of sovereignty in the east Mediterranean island’s northern third.

This is the latest attempt to discover common ground since the last talks collapsed in the summer of 2017. Those last diplomatic parleys, which also took place in Switzerland, collapsed amid acrimony on both sides.

Recently, tensions have ramped up over Turkey’s repeated incursions onto Greek and Cypriot territorial waters and airspace, with Turkey just this past week sending the Cesme, which they call a hydrographic research vessel, into the waters of the Northern Aegean.

Erdogan wants single, unified Cyprus

It appears to onlookers that Turkish sentiments are now calling for one unified country, not the two-state solution that it had previously held up as a model.

Previous talks had featured a federation consisting of Greek- and Turkish-speaking zones and an agreement between two equal and sovereign states.

However, earlier this month, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan ruled out a unified Cyprus and dismissed the creation of a federal system to reunify Cyprus, insisting that the two-state accord is the only solution.

The ruler of occupied northern Cyprus, Ersin Tatar, known to be a favorite of the Turkish president, echoed Erdogan.

On their part, Greek Cypriots have historically rejected any deal that would formalize a permanent decision solidifying the nation’s ethnic partition.

Cyprus President Anastasiades is proposing what he calls a “decentralized federation” under which the Greek- and Turkish-speaking zones would be granted increased authority to run their own affairs.

Mitsotakis “Does not know his place”

Back on February 12, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan launched a fierce attack against Greece and Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, saying that he does not know his place and he is deserted by allies.

Speaking in Parliament, Erdogan told lawmakers from his AK Party he could not meet Mitsotakis despite a resumption of talks between the two NATO members over their maritime disputes.

Erdogan said Mitsotakis had “challenged” him, and called on the Greek premier to “know his limits.”

Greece calls for Cyprus federation

Erdogan’s statements come after remarks made by PM Mitsotakis on Monday, saying that the “only viable solution” to the Cyprus issue “is a bizonal, bicommunal federation with political equality.

“Ending Turkish occupation and finding a viable solution are a fundamental Greek foreign policy priority,” Mitsotakis stated after a meeting with Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades in Nicosia.

“The only viable solution is a bizonal, bicommunal federation with political equality,” Mitsotakis added.

The Turkish president dismissed Mitsotakis’ proposal on the issue and further stated that “The Greek side has not made the slightest change in its stance disregarding the existence of Turkish Cypriots on the island.”

Erdogan: Two-state solution is the sole option

“A two-state solution is the sole option for Cyprus, federal system is no longer an option on agenda.

“I know that you put your trust in some places,” Erdogan continued, referring to the EU.

“But those whom you trust have already failed you. Turkey, on the other hand, will not lean on anyone. It will stand up for itself,” Erdogan proclaimed.

Migrant Camp at Lesvos to be Shut Down Soon, Greece Says

Migrant camp at Lesvos
The Kara Tepe migrant facility on Lesvos. Credit: Greek Ministry of Immigration

The migrant camp of Kara Tepe in the island of Lesvos will shut down within the next few weeks, Μigration Minister Notis Mitarakis said on Thursday.

The camp provided temporary accommodation for thousands of migrants and asylum seekers after the notorious Moria camp was torched last year.

Mitarakis said that the Kara Tepe camp, which had been erected on public land, will shut down and be turned over to the island’s residents “within the next few weeks.”

Its facilities will be moved to a new area of nearly 24 hectares (59 acres) near the city of Mitilini, the capital of the island.

The new center’s capacity will be 3,000 individuals and it is expected to be completed by November of 2021.

The Minister said in a letter to Mitilini mayor Stratis Kitelis that all migrants currently staying at Kara Tepe have been interviewed.

A decision on whether they have been granted asylum or not has been made and is pending delivery, he said.

He also added that other facilities hosting migrants, such as the Estia apartments, will no longer do so after the new enclosed control facility is built.

Referring to the decongestion of the island, which bore the brunt of the crush of the migrant influx to Greece, Mitarakis said that 6,000 refugees were transferred out of Lesvos.

The number of asylum seekers between January 2020 and January 2021 also dropped by 58 percent, from a high of 20,868 down to 8,764.

Facility at Kara Tepe under fire

The facility at Kara Tepe has been heavily criticized by humanitarian NGO’s and the United Nations.

On February 17, UNHCR Greece tweeted: “Αs a cold spell sweeps across Greece, thousands of refugees and asylum-seekers living in tents or makeshift shelters on the islands of Samos, Chios and Lesvos face freezing temperatures and icy winds in precarious conditions.”

Since the Moria fire, which was set deliberately in an act of arson, camp residents have no longer been permitted to prepare their own meals.

Instead, Greek military personnel are in charge of supplying them with food.

Kara Tepe is surrounded by barbed wire fencing and is under constant surveillance. A strict lockdown has been imposed to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

Some 2,500 minors live at the camp, which was once used by the Greek military for training exercises.

On February 17, Human Rights Watch (HRW) published a report stating that parts of Kara Tepe were built on ground contaminated with lead.

“For seven weeks after the Greek government received test results that showed unsafe lead levels, it took minimal action, and now is continuing to downplay the risk and the need for further action,” said Belkis Wille, senior crisis and conflict researcher at HRW.

Coronavirus Cases Reach 1,784 in Greece Thursday

coronavirus cases
Credit: Greek Reporter

Greece recorded a total of 1,784 cases of the virus on Thursday, out of the total 50,247 coronavirus tests that were conducted across the country during the day.

The current figure represents 129 fewer than the 1,913 instances of the coronavirus that were diagnosed in Greece on Wednesday, just one day before.

Total of 880 cases diagnosed in Attica alone on Thursday

Of the 1,784 coronavirus cases recorded in Greece in the past 24 hours, 880 were located in Attica, home to the Greek capital of Athens.

Instances of the virus were particularly high in the city itself, where 241 cases of Covid-19 were identified.

In Thessaloniki, Greece’s second-largest city, a total of 183 cases of Covid-19 were identified in the last 24 hours.

Tragically, 39 people with the coronavirus passed away in the country over the past 24-hour period, which is 11 more than those who died with the virus on Wednesday.

Total 367 intubations in Greece

Currently, 367 patients with Covid-19 are intubated in Greece, which is 10 more than those undergoing the intensive treatment in the country the day before.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, a total 186,469 cases of Covid-19 have been recorded in the country, including all those who have recovered from the virus.

Of the cases diagnosed in Greece in the past seven days, just 63 are associated with foreign travel and 2,600 have been linked to contact with a known case.

Of the 367 patients intubated currently, 86.1% are over the age of 70 or suffer from preexisting conditions.

Additionally, a total of 1,315 patients have been discharged from ICUs around the country since the beginning of the pandemic.

The 39 new deaths recorded on Thursday bring the total number of fatalities in the country to 6,410, and 95.7% of those who have passed away with the virus were over the age of 70 or suffered from underlying health issues.

EU Leaders Mull Coronavirus Vaccine Certificates In Bid to Boost Travel

EU coronavirus travel
Tourists flock at the archeological site of Knossos, Crete, before the pandemic. Credit: Marc Ryckaert (MJJR), CC BY 3.0/Wikimedia commons

Reacting in time to enable European and UK travelers to get their trips lined up for the summer, EU leaders have agreed to discuss the possible issuance of coronavirus vaccine certificates when they meet on Thursday.

Southern European countries that are heavily tourism-dependent, including Greece, are banking on some version of a certificate or “vaccine passport” to allow people to move freely this summer without fears of quarantines or other border restrictions.

Greek PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis was once of the most vocal proponents of the concept, saying that such a system was needed in order for tourism to begin to approach normal levels in the summer of 2021 after a devastating 2020.

Rebound desperately needed after deep recession of 2020

The lockdowns which were called to help halt the spread of the virus caused the deepest recession since the economic bust of the last decade in Greece and had similar repercussions Europe-wide, but the situation was exceptionally difficult for Southern European nations.

France and Germany appear to be putting the brakes on such an option, however, saying that the certificate would mean that the system would create an obligation to be vaccinated and therefore would bar those who refuse to be inoculated from traveling.

The French government of Emmanuel Macron has promised that vaccines will not be made mandatory, and a French official was quoted as saying on Wednesday that any “vaccine passport” was “premature.”

A great deal of detail is in the offing if the EU decides to go through with the concept, including whether or not the document should be digital, such as the certificate Greece has created, and whether or not it will be global in nature.

Working statement says vaccine certificates will be discussed

Leaders must also agree whether to issue the certificates if both doses of the vaccine are issued or if just one is received, as in the case of the Johnson & Johnson Vaccine candidate, which may be available soon.

A working statement for the leaders that was seen by Reuters said “We call for work to continue on a common approach to vaccination certificates.” The videoconference will begin on Thursday, but there was no timeframe given in the statement.

On Wednesday, officials stated that the EU was working with the International Air Transport Association, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development and the World Health Organization in order to firm up plans for the reopening of travel this spring and summer.

The certificates may have legal ramifications as well, since it is possible that those who will be last in line for the precious inoculations may not get their shots in time to leave for their vacations this Spring.

In addition, officials must also grapple with the medical uncertainty regarding whether or not those who have been vaccinated can still pass the virus on to others.

It is still unclear if people who already had the virus can remain immune forever, or be immune to different strains of the virus, and how these individuals would go about receiving a certificate.

“There are still many things we don’t know,” a senior official from one of the EU member states said. “We need more time to come to a common line.”

Greece, Israel, Cyprus already onboard

Earlier in February, Greece and Israel signed a deal to ease travel restrictions to Greece for Israelis who could prove they had been inoculated. Israel and Cyprus followed suit this past week with an agreement between themselves for free passage for those who had been vaccinated.

Iceland was the very first nation in Europe to issue vaccine certificates, creating their own document in late January. On Tuesday, Greece unveiled a digital vaccination certificate for those who have received two doses of the vaccine.

The other countries that are known to be issuing or interested in issuing vaccine certificates at the present time include Cyprus, Sweden, Estonia, Denmark, Spain, Portugal, Italy, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has already announced that his government would consider “status certificates” regarding vaccination as one way to open up tourism once again.

But Johnson also addressed the issues of privacy and exclusion brought about by such vaccine passport, saying that any review of such a system would keep in mind “the many concerns surrounding exclusion, discrimination and privacy.”

Certificate will negate the need for quarantines

Greek PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis already floated the idea of vaccination certificates earlier this year.

“A vaccination certificate will allow you to enter Greece without having to show a negative Covid test or undergo quarantine restrictions,” Mitsotakis explained in a Bloomberg television interview.

“And we intend to continue in the same context in which we agreed in principle with Israel. This vaccination certificate will be accepted, with the aim of facilitating travel from Israel to Greece,” he noted.

“People will want to travel. For me it does not make sense not to facilitate travel – to the extent of course that we will feel comfortable welcoming those who have been vaccinated,” he added.

“For those who have not been vaccinated, the most likely scenario is that they will be asked for some form of negative test.

“But for those who have been vaccinated, we want to make it as easy as possible for them to travel to Greece.

“We need to move more quickly”

In a recent interview with the Financial Times, Greek Tourism Minister Harry Theocharis called on EU leaders to “move more quickly” to embrace the vaccine certificates.

“Looking at the reaction of some countries to vaccination certificate proposals, I feel there’s a lot of short-sightedness. There’s more to be done now to prepare ourselves,” Theocharis told the British paper.

“Some countries are very much preoccupied with the now,” he pointed out, as northern European nations, in particular, were unwilling to look ahead and plan for an economic recovery in the summer.

However, he urged “We need to move more quickly.”

#MeToo Greece: PM Vows to Apply Stricter Laws for Sexual Abuse

Greece sexual abuse
Greece’s PM Mitsotakis announces new measures against sexual abuse. Credit: Greek government

Greece’s PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis announced on Thursday that he will bring about new legislation to tighten sex abuse laws and help victims, while endorsing the #MeToo movement.

He also announced the launch of a digital platform, called metoo.gov.gr, where victims will be able to submit complaints via live chat and access information on sexual abuse.

“We should all adopt a common line on how to address the essence of sexual abuse,” Mitsotakis told Parliament.

He also announced stricter penalties for sex offenders as part of a government response to a slew of allegations of sexual abuse in the Greek theater and sports worlds.

“The #MeToo movement started four years ago in America. In Greece, it appeared in 2021. Today the silence has broken and it is the turn of action to break through the inertia,” the Prime Minister declared.

Sexual abuse and populism

But the movement “should not become a victim of vulgar political exploitation,” he cautioned, accusing main opposition SYRIZA and its leader Alexis Tsipras of “left-wing Trumpism.”

He said that the opposition has been behind a social media campaign to link the Conservatives with the alleged pedophilia scandal, involving the former head of the National Theatre of Greece, Dimitris Lignadis.

“The liberating movement is becoming a field of vulgar populism and vague accusations aiming to harm political opponents, as if rapists are divided into the right wing and left wing,” he said.

Presenting some of the proposed changes to the penal code, Mitsotakis said that the statute of limitations in sexual abuse cases involving minors is suspended until the victim reaches adulthood, while sexual abuse cases will be heard in court as a matter of priority.

The government will also establish a registry for any professional who comes into contact with children and adolescents, including coaches or people employed in summer camps and refugee facilities.

Backing the Greek Culture Minister

Mitsotakis also fully backed the handling of the Lignadis case by Culture Minister Lina Mendoni, describing her as a “very effective minister.”

He admitted, however, that she made a “big mistake” calling Lignadis a “dangerous man” in a press conference to address the sexual abuse allegations.

Mendoni faces opposition calls to resign after two men accused the National Theatre director she appointed of raping them when they were barely adults.

Tsipras demands minister be fired

Taking the floor, Tsipras hit back at the accusations of populism, saying the responsibility for the scandal belongs to the Prime Minister.

“We are not going to judge or much less condemn anyone, but let us all ask ourselves. Are there are no political responsibilities that are tantamount to a political scandal?” he asked.

But the former PM also distanced himself from the conspiracies spread in around social media with the hashtag #ND_pederastes (pedophiles).

“You insist on supporting and protecting Mendoni despite the outcry from the art world,” he told Mitsotakis.

Successful Greeks Share Knowledge in YouTube Series “Learn From the Greeks”

Yorgos Karamihos
Yorgos Karamihos, featured on a recent “Learn From the Greeks” episode/Credit: Twitter

Successful Greek-Americans from all across the West Coast are being featured in a new YouTube series titled “Learn From the Greeks“.

New Webseries Learn From the Greeks

The webcast began as a collaboration between the Public Diplomacy Office of the Consulate General of Greece in Los Angeles and the Office of Economic and Commercial Affairs of the Consulate General of Greece in San Francisco.

Every Monday, a new video is posted featuring various experts. From academics and entertainment to the world of business, “Learn From the Greeks” features successful Greek men and women from a variety of disciplines.

Guests speak to audiences about the unique challenges of their field and how they arrived at their success. They also talk about how their Greek heritage has inspired and helped them.

Learn From the Greeks Guests

A previous episode featured Yorgos Karamihos talking about the world of theater and entertainment. Karamihos has several film and TV credits in Greece, the UK and the US. Most recently he was in the hit series “The Durrells”.

Ultramarathon runner, endurance athlete and author Dean Karnazes has also been featured on the webcast. The show has also featured several startup founders, including Jon Vlachogiannis, an entrepreneur and angel investor.

Vlachogiannis founded the data company Bugsense with only $100k, turning it into the largest in its field. He is currently the CEO of the wealth management startup company AngelRisk.

The series aims to not only highlight accomplished Greeks, but also enlighten audiences about Greek culture and heritage through experts in the field. The academics interviewed include Sharon Gerstel, a Professor of Byzantine Art and Archaeology at UCLA.

Eva Prionas, a Lecturer of Modern Greek Language, Literature and Culture at Stanford University, also lends her knowledge to the series.

Some who have successfully brought quality Greek food and products to the US are also featured, including John Williams Margaritakis, the owner of the wildly successful Go Greek yogurt bar chain, is on Episode 11.

The show provides a great learning opportunity for many seeking to not only learn about different fields and keys to success, but also for those seeking to become inspired by other members of the Greek diaspora to pursue their own dreams after a difficult year.

Thirteen episodes of Learn From the Greeks have been uploaded in total so far. Check out the YouTube channel to keep up to date on new episodes.

Greece Introduces New Regulations for Pets; Stricter Penalties for Abuse

Pet dog in Greece
Stricter penalties for animal abuse are introduced in Greece. Credit: Greek Reporter

Greece is introducing sweeping new regulations for pet owners and pet sellers and stricter penalties for animal abuse in a new bill brought before Parliament on Thursday.

Presenting the bill, Alternate Minister of Interior Stelios Petsas said that the new “framework for pets shows our humanity.”

The legislation, he said, provides the tools and resources for the necessary welfare of pets.

The new bill now explicitly includes the five internationally-recognized animal freedoms.

These are: freedom from hunger and thirst, freedom from unnecessary suffering and strain, freedom from pain, injury and illness, freedom from fear and anxiety, and the freedom to express normal behaviors in appropriate living conditions.

“Digital health book” for pets

A key aspect of the proposed legislation creates a new digital health book for all pets, which will include a full medical history and will be accessible by both owners and veterinarians.

Another key piece of legislation is a ban on cat and dog sales in pet shops, as well as a ban on breeding advertorials.

The fine for publishing a breeding advertisement will be more than tripled when not referencing the pet’s unique ID microchip number and the new reproduction license.

The sale of pets in Greece will only be allowed by approved breeders and owners in the future. In addition, pet adoption fees will be forbidden, except for transportation and medical treatment costs.

New rules for breeders

Owners will be licensed to have one litter per pet, while prospective owners of the offspring will also have to be officially registered.

Neutering will now become mandatory for all owners, with some medical exceptions.

Approved licensed breeders will be fined 2,000 euros if they breed a single animal more than six times.

Amateur (so-called “back yard”) breeders will also be subjected to several new restrictive rules.

Animal abuse

Pet abuse will carry stricter fines as well, and the laws against such abuse will now include acts such as abandonment, shooting, intentional injury and poisoning.

Existing fines for serious administrative offenses are also being tightened as per the new bill.

A new National Pet Registry will be introduced in Greece, where all pets — both owned or stray — will have to be registered, including pets put up for adoption.

Animal welfare associations, veterinarians, breeders and animal shelters will all have to register as well.

The criminal records of people who have been convicted of torturing animals will now be entered into a database managed by the Athens prosecutor’s office.

It will be cross-referenced with the Pet Registry so that these individuals may not register as pet owners in the future.

In order to encourage owners to take better care of their pets, the bill introduces incentives by municipalities, such as a reduction in city taxes by up to 10 percent.