ISIS Leader Killed, Terrorist Group Names Successor

Battle of Raqqa, 2017 ISIS war
ISIS lost most of the territory it had claimed in 2017, but the group still poses a significant threat through acts of terrorism and insurgency. Credit Mahmoud Bali / VOA / Public domain / via Wikimedia Commons

Abu Hasan al-Hashimi al-Qurashi, the leader of the Islamic State (ISIS)—also known as ISIL, Daesh, or IS—has been killed in combat, the terrorist group announced on Wednesday, November 30th.

At the apex of its power in 2014, ISIS controlled approximately forty percent of Iraq and about a third of Syria. By 2017, the group had lost direct control over most of its territory. However, the threat posed by the group remains in the form of terrorist cells and pockets of insurgency.

ISIS did not elaborate much on the circumstances of its leader’s death but did announce a successor.

ISIS leader killed

On Wednesday, a representative of the terrorist group said that its leader, Abu Hasan al-Hashimi al-Qurashi, had been killed. Abu Hasan was an Iraqi who became the third caliph of the so-called Islamic State on October 31, 2019.

Abu Omar al-Muhajer, a spokesperson for the group, did not give many details on Abu Hasan’s death, but announced, “he was killed while struggling against the enemies of God.”

The announcement appeared as an audio message on the ISIS media outlet, al-Furqan. Abu al-Hussein al-Husseini al-Qurashi was named Abu Hasan’s successor in the statement.

The US Central Command (CENTCOM) also confirmed that the caliphate leader had been killed on Wednesday. According to CENTCOM, his death occurred in mid-October. CENTCOM said that “this operation was conducted by The Free Syrian Army in Dar’a province in Syria.”

The Free Syrian Army (FSA) is a loose grouping of armed factions opposed to both ISIS and the government of President Bashar al-Assad in the Syrian Civil War.

A Green Beret demonstrates how to immediately fix a firing malfunction on an assault rifle to partner force soldiers of the Maghaweir al-Thowra (MaT) at al-Tanf Garrison, Syria, March 3, 2020.
US special forces train a variety of armed groups in Syria and Iraq to combat militant threats like ISIS. Credit Staff Sgt. William Howard / Public Domain / via Wikimedia Commons

Impact

The CENTCOM press release stated that the death of its leader is “another blow” to ISIS. The White House’s press secretary, Karine Jean-Pierre, said that US military personnel were not involved in the operation to kill the ISIS leader.

John Kirby, the spokesman for the US National Security Council, commented: “We certainly welcome the news of the death of another ISIS leader. I don’t have any additional operational details to provide at this time.”

Abu Hasan’s death is the second time this year that a prominent member of the Islamic State’s upper echelons has been killed. In February, the group’s previous leader, Abu Ibrahim al-Qurashi, was eliminated by US special forces. One of al-Qurashi’s lieutenants was also killed in the raid.

The caliphate’s first leader was likewise killed during a US military operation. In October 2019, US special forces conducted a raid in Syria’s Idlib Province. During the operation, special forces located and pursued ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

Al-Baghdadi fled into a tunnel and detonated a suicide vest, killing himself and three young children he had taken with him.

It is unclear to what extent the death of its third caliph will impact ISIS operations. The group has sustained the loss of its leadership on two previous occasions but remained capable of posing a threat.

According to an analysis by the Small Wars Journal, “The move to decentralized, flexible, adaptive networks limits the ability of the United States and its allies to effectively conduct strikes against terrorist sanctuaries, while maximizing the unpredictability and effectiveness of global terror organizations.”

Nevertheless, ISIS has been unable to replicate the success it had on the battlefields of Syria and Iraq between 2014 and 2017. Instead, it now functions as a militant terrorist organization.

In 2019, US special forces stormed a compound in Syria where they killed ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi
In 2019, US special forces stormed a compound in Syria where they killed ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Credit: US Department of Defense / AFP / CC BY-SA 4.0 / via Wikimedia Commons

The situation in Syria and Iraq

Even though ISIS collapsed as a territorial entity in 2017, the security situation in Syria and Iraq remains unpredictable.

In Syria, the US and Coalition forces continue to fight against the remnants of ISIS and their affiliate groups. Pro-Assad forces control most of the country, backed by Russia and Iran. Kurdish militias control the second largest portion of the country in the northeast from Rojava.

In the north, the Turkish military, together with the Syrian National Army (SNA), occupies just under nine thousand kilometers of Syrian territory. From here, they launch operations against ISIS but also the Kurds.

Recently, Turkish forces targeted Kurdish groups with airstrikes and artillery fire after blaming them for a terrorist attack in Istanbul. Ankara is now reportedly considering another ground offensive.

A similar degree of instability exists in Iraq, and ISIS remains active in the country. For example, an Iraqi army position in the northwestern governorate of Kirkuk was attacked by militants in November. Four Iraqi soldiers were killed.

Iraq, like Syria, continues to be a source of tension between competing external actors. Iranian Quds Force operators are active in the region, as are a residual force of US personnel still based in the country.

Turkey has maintained a permanent military presence in northern Iraq since 2018. There are approximately five to ten thousand Turkish personnel in the region.

Although ISIS no longer directly rules large sections of Iraq and Syria, terrorist cells affiliated with the group remain operational across the region. ISIS affiliates are also active across the Greater Middle East and Africa.

The Ancient Greek Kingdoms of China

 

Athena in China painted by Fred Henry Andrews for historian Aurel Stein based on a seal found by him from China.
The Ancient Greeks of China. Greek goddess Athena painted by Fred Henry Andrews for historian Aurel Stein based on a seal found by him from China. Image Credits: Fred Henry Andrews via Ancient Khotan book by Aurel Stein.

Most are unaware that there were Ancient Greek kingdoms in China and that Hellenism spread all the way to Japan and Korea via India. However, the fact is that the Greeks were indeed in China, and, in addition to this, Hellenism spread to the entirety of the East Asian Buddhist world. In fact, the first anthropomorphic statue of Buddha was created by the Greeks.

The famous Silk Road that connected Europe to China actually opened because of a war between Greeks of Alexandria Eschate. Alexandria Eschate, meaning “Alexandria the Farthest,” is located in the Fergana Valley in what is modern day Tajikistan and was founded by Alexander the Great as his northernmost base in Central Asia. During the Chinese Han dynasty, it was known as “The Battle for Heavenly Horses.”

With the fall of the last Classical Greek kingdom in the world, located in India, the power of Greeks in Asia was decimated. Yet, the culture, art, and philosophy they shared with Asians are still present. Mahayana Buddhism has been greatly influenced by the Greeks and has found plenty of adherents in several nations of Asia.

Greeks were everywhere 

Eastern Han ingot imprints with Greek inscriptions, excavated in Shaanxi, China. 1st-2nd century CE.
Eastern Han coins with Greek letters, excavated in Shaanxi, China. 1st-2nd century CE. credit: u/SXZ728/ Reddit

Globalization is not a new phenomenon in which men and materials traversed several regions of the globe to connect cultures. Rather, the globalization that we see today is, so to say, Globalization 4.0. There were, it turns out, three waves of globalization prior to that of today.

Prior waves of growth of international trade began with the Silk Roads in the 1st century BC and lasted to the 5th century AD. In the 13th to 14th centuries AD, there was yet another wave of global trade. Then came the Spice Routes between the 7th and 15th centuries. The Age of Discovery followed in the 15th to 18th centuries.

The first wave of globalization, which began in the 19th century, lasted until 1914 up to around the beginning of World War I, and, when the Iron Curtain fell in 1989, globalization became a truly international phenomenon.

A new technological wave from the Third Industrial Revolution created the internet, connecting people all over the world in an even more direct way. Now, we are in the middle of what is termed Globalization 4.0.

This comprises the digital economy which was in its infancy during the third wave but is now becoming a force to reckon with.

The Greeks, so to say, were the active votaries of connecting disparate cultures. They acted as living bridges between them. Furthermore, through their conquests and the missionary activities of the Greek Buddhist monks, otherwise known as Yavana Shramanas, they spread Hellenism in the known world all the way to Japan.

As per Inoue Shoichi of the International Research Center for Japanese Studies in Kyoto, Japan, it is often said that Höryüji in Japan was influenced by ancient Greek architecture as well.

How could Hellenism have been conveyed to a Buddhist temple in the Far East? Undoubtedly, to a person hearing this for the first time, this would appear somewhat dubious. However, it is true that Höryuji is considered to be very Greek, writes Inoue Shoichi.

Greek Art Remains in China

According to Elizabeth Errington, Joe Cribb, and Maggie Claringbull in their book The Crossroads of Asia: Transformation in Image and Symbol in the Art of Ancient Afghanistan and Pakistan, some of the earliest known Buddhist artifacts found in China are small statues on “money trees,” dated to circa 200 CE, in typical Graeco-Bactrian (Gandharan) style.

As per Professor Vinay Kumar of Benaras Hindu University in India, some Northern Wei  (Chinese dynasty) statues can be quite reminiscent of the Graeco-Bactrian standing Buddha although in a slightly more symbolic style.

Northern Qi Dynasty (Chinese dynasty) statues also maintain the general Greco-Buddhist style but with less realism and more prominent symbolic elements. Some Eastern Wei statues display Buddha with elaborate Greek-style robe folding, surmounted by flying figures holding a wreath.

According to Strabo, when speaking about the Greek empire in parts of China and Nepal, it is acknowledged that the Greeks “extended their empire even as far as…[China] and the Phryni [in] Nepal.”

The expansion of Greece into mainland China

Greek soldier, 3rd or 2nd century BC, today at the Xinjiang Museum in Urumqi. Image Credits: Ismoon via Wikipedia Commons.
Greek soldier, 3rd or 2nd century BC, today at the Xinjiang Museum in Urumqi. Image Credits: Ismoon via Wikipedia Commons.

The Greco-Bactrians and their Hellenized Scythian—known as Sakas—troops reached China through the Tarim Basin and established colonies, or settlements, in its southern portion along the northern range of the Himalayas.

The Greeks and their troops, who lived in Bactria, Sogdiana, and Ferghana in the Central Asian and South Asian regions, came to be known as the Lixuan, or Lijian, people by the Chinese soon after the opening of the Silk Road to Central Asia by the Emperor Han Wudi, who reigned from 156 to 1587 BC.

The “Alexandria” closest to China was “Alexandria the Farthest,” or Alexandria Eschate, which Alexander founded in 329 BC after his marriage with Roxane (345–310 BC), the Sogdian princess. Situated in southwestern Ferghana in the Sogdian lands, its actual location is Khujand in Tajikistan—formerly Leninabad.

China, known by the Greeks as “Seres,” (Σῆρες)  and “Sinae” (Σίναι) is described by Strabo as having been conquered in some parts by the Greco-Bactrians together with Nepal (Phryni). The first contact between the Chinese and the Greeks of Central Asia took place during the time of the independent Greco-Bactrian kingdom. That contact was made through Xinjiang, also known as Dogu (East) Turkestan and Gansu.

The northern Silk Road through the Tarim starts in Ferghana and connects Central Asia to China through the cities of Aksu (Gumo), Kucha (Qiuci) and Turfan (Jushi), all located in China. Diodotes and Euthydemos, who ruled Bactria, Sogdiana, Ferghana, and Northern India at the time of the Qin Emperor, may have been sending troops trough the Tarim Basin.

In Gansu province in China, archaeologists unearthed a Hellenistic golden plate representing the twelve gods together with Dionysus (or Alexander–Dionysus) sitting on a panther surrounded by grapes with a Bactrian inscription on the back. There is mention that Greco-Roman prisoners in China built the city of Liqian in 26 BC following the submission of Zhizhi.

If we examine the itinerary of Demetrios’ conquest of northwestern India, covering about three thousand kilometers with his army, an expedition as far as Gansu-Ningxia is not impossible. 

Khotan in China: an Indo-Greek colony

Rawak Temple in the Taklamakan desert (close to Hotan / Khotan). Image Credits: Daggel via Wikipedia.
Rawak Temple in the Taklamakan desert (close to Hotan / Khotan). Image Credits: Daggel via Wikipedia.

Aurel Stein in On Ancient Central Asian Tracks writes that:

…local tradition, recorded by Xuan Zang and also in old Tibetan texts, that the territory of Khotan was conquered and colonized about two centuries before our era by Indian immigrants from Takshasila, the Taxila of the Greeks, in the extreme northwestern corner of the Punjab.

This expansion of the Greek role all the way to Khotan in China would correspond to the time of King Diodotus’ rule in India and through the Eastward marches of Euthydemos and Demetrios.

There were not only Indian immigrants who went to Khotan, however. A mixed army, comprised of a motley of ethnicities and mercenaries from Taxila, an ancient town with ruins of an equally ancient university, possibly also arrived to Khotan. This was one of the most prestigious universities of the ancient world. It was a place where Chanakya, an Ancient Indian philosopher, taught. Chanakya was a teacher of Sandracottus, the first emperor of united India.

In this region, an Indo-Greek king possibly built walled cities using the administrative and social organization of the Greco-Bactrians, as claimed in Niya-Khotan documents and as evidenced by various archaeological finds, including the Sino-Kharoshthi coins.

Concerning the Sino-Kharoshthi coins found in Khotan, Enoki mentioned that they are “both in form and inscription…close to the Bactrian kingdom, and there is no need to look for Saka influence in them.”

After the establishment of the Indo-Greek kingdom of Khotan, the commercial and cultural road between China, Khotan, Northwest India, and Bactria opened. It probably began with the trading of silk with India, Bactria, and Ptolemaic Egypt. Greeks were opening up possibilities of trade and commerce from their new conquests in China.

Hellenistic antiquities from the region

Found at Khotan site in Xinjiang, China. 3rd-4th century A.D. Collection of the Tokyo National Museum.
Found at Khotan site in Xinjiang, China. 3rd-4th century A.D. Collection of the Tokyo National Museum. Image Credits: Puchku via Wikipedia.

As per Lucas Christopoulos, several Hellenistic antiquities have been found in this city region of China. An archaeological dig revealed coins of Hermaios (Ermayasa) in the region of Khotan. These may indicate a continuous relation between the Greco-Bactrian kings and Khotan kingdom from the time of Euthydemos through to Hermaios.

A tapestry possibly representing a Greco-Scythian king was discovered at the Sampul cemetery situated near Khotan. The king appears with his spear and the centaur Chiron playing the trumpet and wearing the causia, a large Greco-Macedonian hat. A lion skin covers him.

Because the two symbols of Achilles (Chiron) and Heracles (Nemean lion skin) are combined, the tapestry might also be a representation of Alexander the Great. He referred to these as his two ancestors, who were often portrayed with large eyes.

Bust of bodhisattva, from Kucha. Serindian art of Xinjiang, 6th-7th century. Dried earth and polychromy.
Bust of bodhisattva, from Kucha. Serindian art of Xinjiang, 6th-7th century. Dried earth and polychromy. Guimet Museum. Image Credits: Vasil via Wikipedia.

Descended from the Argead kings of Argos, Alexander claimed ancestral ties to Heracles. He would thus have belonged to the first generation in the lineage of this family. The ancestral line was all tied to Heracles’ legendary son, Temenos.

Alexander believed himself to be a relative of Achilles through his mother as well. It must be mentioned that the blue-eyed king on the Sampul tapestry does not actually resemble Alexander. Nevertheless, the association with Chiron and Heracles should indicate a certain degree of ethnic connection if not lineage.

The band on his head is characteristic of the Antiochid, the Indo-Greek or Greco-Bactrian kings. It does certainly also tell of a link between the Khotan king and Hellenistic royal tradition.

Translations of the names of the first kings of Khotan in Chinese are as follows: Yulin (25–55 AD), Rongwan (50–51 AD), Weishi (50–51 AD), and Dumo (60 AD; he was not crowned). Other Khotan kings included Xiumoba (60 AD), Guangde (60–86 AD), and Fangqian (129–132 AD). Jian (151–152 AD), Anguo (125–175 AD), and Shanxi (220–226 AD) later followed.

Greco Bactrian city of Niya in China

According to a news report by the Chicago Tribune“archaeologists have dug up an ancient city (Niya in China) that may have been inhabited by dropouts from Alexander the Great’s army.” The newspaper claims the city may be the answer to anthropologists’ solving the puzzle of the fair-haired, green-eyed Central Asians who continue to reside in the region. If so, this could prove to be of equal importance to the discovery of Pompeii, the Roman city buried by the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in A.D. 79.

In the city of Niya (Jingjue) in 1906, Aurel Stein discovered a series of clay seals with impressions of Pallas-Athena, including aegis and thunderbolt. There were also depictions of Eros, Heracles, and possibly a different Athena, Athena Alkidemos.

Athena Alkidemos was the city-goddess of Pella. She was represented almost identically on the coins of both Alexander the Great and Menander in Taxila.

Stein points out the close similarity of those pieces with Hellenistic art of the first century. The resemblance, however, seems to indicate that these may potentially have been from an earlier date. This could especially be the case if we consider the direct link between the representation of Athena Alkidemos and the Greco-Bactrian and Indo-Greek kings.

Also found was a carved armchair with a seat representing standing lions and armrests composed of Hellenistic-type monsters. Several documents in Kharoshthi may indicate the presence of Greco-Scythian kings in the region in the past. Stein links the presence of those documents with the immigration from Taxila at the end of the third century BC.

Sino-Nipponese-Hellenism 

Lafcadio Hearn Greece Japan
Hearn and his wife. Credit: Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

Sino-Nipponese-Hellenism, or Chinese-Japanese-Hellenism, is a result of creolization of the Ancient Greek culture that was brought about by the Afghani, Central Asian, and Indian Greeks to China. The local Chinese, who assimilated some elements of Hellenism, also constituted part of it. They reflected the acculturation in their art, religion, and sculpture, which later spread to Korea and Nippon, Japan.

Lafcadio Hearn Greece Japan
Lafcadio Hearn in 1889. Credit: Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

The Ancient Greek Pantheon inspired religious art, sculpture, and architecture in China, Korea, and Japan. Yet, it is not just the Ancient Greeks who left an imprint on the history of the world’s Far East region. Greeks of the modern world, Greek Lafcadio Hearn (aka Koizumi Yakumo), for instance, created a bridge between East and West through their work. Lafcadio Hearn was a devotee of both Greek and Japanese cultures.

On September 26, 1904, Hearn died of heart failure at the age of fifty-four. He remains buried at the Zoshigava Cemetery in Toshima, Tokyo.

Mahayana Buddhism

A statue of Buddha that shows the clear influence of ancient Greece on Buddhism, compared to an ancient Greek statue.
A statue of Buddha that shows the clear influence of ancient Greece on Buddhism, compared to an ancient Greek statue. Greek Reporter illustration. (left) Gandhara Buddha. 1st-2nd century AD Tokyo National Museum, public domain. (right) Statue of Dionysus National Archaeological Museum of Athens. George E. Koronaios / wikimedia commons CC BY-SA 4.0

The Greeks developed Mahayana Buddhism using their philosophy and art. As a sect, it was different from Theravada Buddhism, and Mahayana is Greek-influenced. Thus, the so-called Hinayana Buddhism evolved into two different sects within Buddhism.

From the Greek-influenced Mahayana Buddhism emerged Vajrayana Buddhism. The Tibetans, Mongols, and Ladakhis of India later adopted it as well. Buddhism became the most popular religion in East Asia, taking over the place of Confucianism, Daoism, and Shintoism.

The depiction of Buddha is in an anthropomorphic form that originated from the Greeks. The Indians, Chinese, Koreans, Japanese, Burmese, and Indo-Chinese carried on this tradition. It later also influenced the Tibetans, Mongols, Sri Lankans, Indonesians, and Singaporeans among several other groups.

Ancient Greeks played an important role in bridging the chasm between the Orient and the Occident. The possibility of finding a man or woman of Ancient Greek ancestry in contemporary northwestern China can thus not be denied.

Still, there is always a greater possibility of finding a man of Ancient Greek origin in Northern India, which was, after all, the huge power center of Ancient Greeks in Asia. 

Greece Becomes a European Hub for Liquefied Natural Gas

Greece Liquefied Natural Gas
Greece’s sole operational LNG regasification and storage terminal is on the Revithoussa. Credit: Ministry of Energy

Greece is becoming a European hub of liquefied natural gas (LNG) as demand grows in the wake of the war in Ukraine, PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis told an international conference on LNG held in Athens on Wednesday.

Mitsotakis presented the new infrastructures that have been implemented or are being built and which allow for an increase in natural gas exports.

Currently, major LNG-related projects – either under construction, expanding, or being planned – are underway at five locations around Greece. Within the next two years, those projects could more than double the country’s capacity to handle world shipments of LNG.

The various projects – two near the town of Alexandroupolis in northern Greece, one near Volos in central Greece, and two near Athens – come as Europe dramatically increases its imports of LNG to replace Russian natural gas.

So far this year, the European Union has imported some 100 billion cubic meters (bcm) of LNG – a more than 60% increase from a year ago and an all-time record, according to European Commission data.

“The crisis is changing the energy map of Europe and Greece is at the forefront of this change,” Mitsotakis said at the conference.

He noted that Greece is also involved in the TAP pipeline that transports natural gas from Azerbaijan to Europe via Greece and the Greek-Bulgarian natural gas pipeline that was inaugurated recently.

“In a few years, we may have 2, 3 or even 4 floating LNG stations. We want to help our neighbours to diversify their energy supplies and to improve the stability associated with energy security,” he stated.

He finally noted that Europe, as Greece is already doing, should proceed with the exploration of hydrocarbon deposits to ensure energy supply at a reasonable cost without affecting the transition to a green economy.

“We need innovative solutions to ensure energy security now, without undermining the path to decarbonization,” the prime minister concluded.

Revithoussa is Greece’s sole operational liquefied gas terminal

Greece’s sole operational LNG regasification and storage terminal on the Revithoussa islet off Athens has played a pivotal role in the country’s strategy to wean itself off Russian gas and boost the security of supplies ahead of winter.

The country has already cut Russian gas imports by more than half this year thanks to increased deliveries from other producers to the Revithoussa facility, which is 5 miles (40 km) from Athens and can store 225,000 cubic metres of gas and regasify 1,400 cubic metres per hour.

New floating storage and regasification units (FSRUs) in Greece are planned at:

Alexandroupolis

Gastrade, owned by Greece’s Copelouzos family, is developing an FSRU which will be anchored about 18 kilometres off the northern Greek port of Alexandroupolis, carrying gas to shore via a 28-kilometre-long pipeline. It is expected to carry gas to Bulgaria and further to the north once it starts operations by the end of 2023.

Gastrade has said it is examining the construction of a second FSRU off Alexandroupolis.

Volos

Mediterranean Gas plans to build an FSRU off the port of Volos, in central Greece. It has invited LNG producers, traders, large-scale consumers, industrial users and marine and shipping companies to submit non-binding interest in booking capacity by Dec. 19.

The facility, which will have an annual regasification capacity of 5.2 billion cubic metres, will carry gas to North Macedonia, Bulgaria, Romania, Albania, Italy and the rest of Europe.

It is targeting commercial operations in the second quarter of 2023.

Corinth

Dioriga Gas, a unit of Greek refiner Motor Oil, aims to start construction of an FSRU facility off Agioi Theodori, near Athens, in the fourth quarter of the year.

It will have a storage capacity of up to 210,000 cubic metres of gas which will be either regasified and exported through Greece’s gas grid or sold as LNG via vessels and trucks.

Thessaloniki

Elpedison, a joint venture by Italy’s Edison and Helleniq Energy, wants to build an FSRU off the northern city of Thessaloniki, Greece’s second-largest, by 2025.

It will have the capacity to store 170,000 cubic metres of gas and deliver up to 20 million cubic metres daily.

History Made With First Woman Referee at World Cup

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First woman referree world Cup
Stephanie Frappart will make history as the first woman referee in the World Cup finals at Qatar. Credit: FIFA

French referee Stephanie Frappart will make history as she becomes the first woman to referee at a men’s World cup match between Germany and Costa Rica this Thursday.

The 38-year-old referee will be in charge of today’s match and will lead an all-female on-field team at Al Bayt Stadium alongside assistants Neuza Back a Brazilian and a Mexican Karen Diaz Medina.

Among a total of thirty-six referees in the 2022 Qatar World Cup who were appointed by FIFA back in May six are female and have already officiated at this tournament.

These include Frappart, Rwanda’s Salima Mukansanga, and Japan’s Yoshimi Yamashita as well as assistant referees Back, Diaz, and Kathryn Nesbitt of the US.

However, based on historical records, among all the six, Frappart scoped to the top role of a woman referee in an all-men world cup 2022 in Qatar.

Upon being selected to take part in the 2022 World Cup, Frappart said, “It’s a surprise, you cannot believe it and after two or three minutes, you realize that you are going to the World Cup. It’s amazing, not only for me, but also for my family and also for the French referees.”

Frappart’s historical journey as a referee

Prior to her major assignment as a top official in the Germany – Costa Rica match, Frappart has been spotted in many major soccer matches in which she made history as not only an assistant but also a top referee.

One of her major historical moments was in 2019 when she became the first female referee to take charge of a Ligue 1 match as well in August of the same year, becoming the first to take charge of a major men’s European match between Liverpool and Chelsea.

In March 2021, the French referee also became the first female referee to take charge of a men’s World Cup Qualifier when the Netherlands beat Latvia 2-0 in Amsterdam.

“I knew that my life changed after 2019 because most people recognized me in the street,” Frappart recalls in being asked about her accomplishments.

“So I am like a role model, for women referees but I think it [also] inspired some women in society or in companies to take more and more responsibility,” she added.

Prior to the impending role, last Tuesday, she also officiated as the first female fourth official in a men’s World Cup match, which was between Mexico and Poland.

Having women referees in Qatar World Cup, a strong sign from FIFA

Despite reports from Amnesty International indicating that women remain tied to a male guardian in Qatar, FIFA made a strong decision to include women on the officials’ list.

Upon such a decision, ahead of the start of the tournament, Frappart said she hoped the inclusion of female referees in Qatar would “make things happen” on a broader level.

She said, “It’s a strong sign from FIFA and the authorities to have women referees in that country, [and] I didn’t think about breaking barriers or making history, only doing my job.”

Inflexibility for gender equality in football is evident, and it is more prevalent in Qatar, the host nation of the 2022 World Cup, because women’s rights are severely restricted in the country.

Usually, in Qatar, a woman requires permission from their father, brother, grandfather, uncle, or husband to make important decisions such as marrying, accessing reproductive healthcare, and working in many government jobs.

Therefore, Frappart says she hopes that women refereeing at a top level in Qatar will encourage more women to pick up a whistle in other countries as well.

Ancient Greek City of Chersonesus in Crimea Founded 2,500 Years Ago

chersonesus ancient greek crimea ukraine
The ruins of Chersonesus, an ancient Greek city located in Crimea, now part of the Russian Federation following the Russian invasion. The site is included on UNESCO’s list of World Heritage sites. Credit: Dmitry A Motti/Wikimedia Commons/ CC BY-SA 3.0

The UNESCO-listed city of Chersonesus (Greek: Χερσόνησος), located on the southwestern part of the Crimean peninsula—now part of Russia after its 2014 invasion of the area—was an ancient Greek colony founded approximately 2,500 years ago.

Settlers from Heraclea Pontica in Bithynia established the colony in Crimea in the 6th century BC. In 2013, UNESCO listed Chersonesus as a World Heritage Site for Ukraine; now, after the Russian invasion of Crimea, it is part of the Russian Federation.

The ancient city on the shore of the Black Sea, on the outskirts of the present-day city of Sevastopol, is part of the National Preserve of Tauric Chersonesos, which enshrines the history of the entire Crimean Peninsula. The name Chersonesos itself in Greek means “peninsula,” and it aptly describes the site on which the colony was established.

Oath of Chersonesos evidence of ancient Greek democratic ideals

The Greeks settled and came to rule over the area which was originally occupied by native Scythians and a people called the Tauri. During much of the classical period, Chersonesus operated as an ancient Greek-style democracy, ruled by a group of elected Archons and a council called the Demiurgoi. As time passed, however, the government grew more oligarchic, with power concentrated in the hands of the archons.

A form of oath sworn by all the citizens from the 3rd century BC onward has incredibly survived to the present day. According to the historical website Chersonesus.org, the oath is as follows:

“I swear by Zeus, Gaia, Helios, Parthenos, the Olympian gods and goddesses, and all the heroes who protect the polis, chora, and forts of the people of Chersonesos:

“I shall act in concord (with my fellow citizens) on behalf of the protection and freedom of the polis and its citizens.

“I shall not betray to anyone whomsoever, whether Greek or barbarian, Chersonesos, Kerkinitis, Kalos Limen, the other forts, and the rest of the chora, which the people of Chersonesos inhabit or inhabited. But I shall carefully guard all of these for the demos (the people) of Chersonesos.

“I shall not put down democracy. I shall neither rely upon nor help conceal either traitor or subverter, but I shall reveal them to the damiourgoi (magistrates) in the city.

“I shall oppose anyone who plots against, betrays or revolts from Chersonesos, Kerkinitis, Kalos Limen, the forts, and the chora of the people of Chersonesos.

“I shall hold the office of damiourgos; I shall be, to the best of my ability and with the greatest fairness, a councilor to the city and its citizens.

“I shall guard carefully the ΣАΣТНРА for the demos; and I shall not reveal to either a Hellene or barbarian any secret which is likely to harm the city.

“I shall neither offer nor accept a gift to harm the polis and its citizens.

“I shall not contrive with evil intention against any citizen who has not revolted (from Chersonesos); I shall neither rely upon one who plots (against the city) nor conceal anything from anyone, but I shall lay an impeachment and determine the matter by vote according to the laws.

“I shall pledge my oath to a conspiracy against neither the commonwealth of the people of Chersonesos nor any citizen who has not been shown to be an enemy of the demos.

“If I conspire with anyone and am bound by oath or solemn curse, may it be better for me and my possessions if I am reconciled (to the state), but the opposite if I stand fast (to the conspiracy).

“I shall report to the demiourgoi any conspiracy which I perceive to exist already or to be forming.

“Neither shall I sell grain suitable for exportation which comes from the plain, nor export grain from the plain to another place, except to Chersonesos.

“Zeus, Gaia, Helios, Parthenos, and the Olympian gods, as long as I abide by these covenants, may it be better for me, my family, and my possessions. But if I do not abide, may it be ill for me, my family, and my possessions; may neither the earth nor the sea bear their fruit for me; may the women not be happy in children…”

As chersonesus.org points out, the oath is not only an invaluable historical record of how political figures were expected to act according to the mores of those times; it also depicts the borders of Chersonesos. The city-state included not only Chersonesos itself but also “Kerkinitis (located in present-day Yevpatoriya), Kalos Limen (the modern town of Chernomorskoye), several forts and lands in the west coast of the Crimea, and the nearby farming area” on the peninsula.

Perhaps most interestingly, the Oath “mentions not only usual triad of deities (Zeus, Gaia, and Helios), but also the goddess Parthenos, the great protector of the city and the state,” the website notes, which is indicative of the economic importance of the grain grown in the plains nearby, which was exported through the port of Chersonesos.

Learn more: The Most Important Ancient Greek Colonies

Some historians believe that the Oath was introduced after a political struggle and restoration of democracy that had been lost for a time, leading to the citizens having to swear to protect their democracy from treason and to defend the frontiers “from both Hellenes and barbarians,” it notes.

Unfortunately, the meaning of the term ΣАΣТНРА remains unclear to this day.

Chersonesos in Crimea one of many ancient Greek colonies from western Mediterranean to Black Sea

After defending itself against the Bosporan Kingdom as well as the native Scythians and Tauri, and even extending its power over the west coast of the peninsula, the city of Chersonesos had to ask for military aid from Mithradates VI and his general Diophantus, around 110 BC, submitting to the Bosporan Kingdom.

The city in Crimea that had been one of the ancient Greek colonies that spanned from modern-day Spain in the west to the Sea of Azov in the East then became part of the Roman Empire, hosting a garrison for troops from the middle of the 1st century BC until the 370s AD, when it was captured by the nomadic people known as the Huns.

Part of Byzantium during the Early Middle Ages, the city withstood a siege by the Göktürks in the year 581. However, it enjoyed a great deal of self-rule under the Byzantine Emperors; its small imperial garrison was there more for the town’s protection than for its control.

Chersonesos was useful to Byzantium as an outpost from which to keep an eye on the barbarian tribes that could sweep in from the steppes at any time, and its isolation made it a popular place of exile for those who angered Roman, and later Byzantine, rulers. Incredibly, it hosted Pope Clement I and Pope Martin I, as well as the deposed Byzantine Emperor Justinian II, during its storied history.

Chersonesus coin
Greek coin from the ancient Greek colony of Chersonesos in Crimea showing the ruler Diotimus. From the second century BC. Credit: Vlad Fedchenko/Public Domain

According to Theophanes the Confessor and others, Chersonesus was the residence of a Khazar governor (tudun) in the late 7th century. Between approximately 705 and 840, the city’s affairs were managed by elected officials called babaghuq, meaning “fathers of the city.”

In the year 833, the Emperor Theophilus sent the nobleman Petronas Kamateros, who had recently overseen the construction of the Khazar fortress of Sarkel, to take direct control over the city and its environs.

The area remained in Byzantine hands until the 980s, when historians believe it fell to Kiev. Some historians believe it became the scene of an important turning point in the spread of Christianity after  Vladimir the Great agreed to leave the fortress only if Basil II’s sister Anna Porphyrogeneta was given him in marriage.

The demand understandably caused a scandal in Constantinople; as a pre-condition for the marriage, Vladimir was baptized as a Christian here in the year 988, thus paving the way for the growth of Christianity among the entire Kievan Rus’ people. Thereafter Korsun’ was evacuated.

Since this campaign is not recorded in Greek sources, however, some believe that the account actually refers to the events of the Rus’–Byzantine War (1043) and to a different Vladimir.

Chersonesos basilica
The “1935 Basilica” in the ancient Greek city of Chersonesos, in Crimea, was built on the site of a number more of ancient religious structures. Credit: Dmitry A. Motti/ CCBY SA 3.0

Most of the historical treasures looted by the Slavs in what they called Korsun’ made their way to Novgorod (perhaps by way of Joachim the Korsunian, the first Novgorodian bishop, as his surname indicates ties to Korsun), where they were preserved in the Cathedral of Holy Wisdom until the 20th century. One of the most interesting items from this “Korsun Treasure” is the copper Korsun Gate, supposedly captured by the Novgorodians in Korsun’ — now part of St. Sophia Cathedral in Novgorod.

After the Fourth Crusade, which took place between 1202 to 1204, Chersonesus became dependent on the Byzantine Empire of Trebizond (Trabzon) as the Principality of Theodoro. After the Siege of Trebizond in 1461 the Principality of Theodoro became independent.

The city fell under Genoese control in the early 13th century, a development which was particularly galling for the Greek people in that they forebade Greeks to trade there. In 1299, the town was sacked by the Mongol armies of Nogai Khan’s Golden Horde.

Byzantine sources last mention Chersonesus as a city in 1396; based on archaeological evidence the historic city is presumed to have been abandoned in the following decades.

The archbishopric of Chersonesus disappeared as an entity after the Turkish conquest in 1475 and the destruction of the city.

Centuries later, the gleaming Saint Vladimir Cathedral was built in the 19th century in the Byzantine Revival style; intended to commemorate the exact place where the ruler was baptized, it was completed in 1892, and still overlooks the ruins of the ancient city.

The ruins were excavated by archaeologists working under the Russian government beginning in 1827. They are protected as an archaeological park today.

The buildings mix influences of Greek, Roman and Byzantine culture. The defensive wall was approximately 3.5 kilometres (2.2 mi) long, 3.5 to 4 metres wide and 8 to 10 metres high with towers at a height of 10 to 12 metres. The walls enclosed an area of about 30 hectares (74 acres).

Some of the spectacular buildings there include a Roman amphitheater and a Greek temple. The fact that the site has not been inhabited since the 14th century makes it an important representation of Byzantine life as it was in those times.

The remains of wine presses and defensive towers are still seen in the surrounding farmlands. According to archaeologists, evidence suggests that the local people were paid to do farm work; they were not enslaved.

One aspect of life in Chersonesus is seen in the fact that the tombstones there are for each individual person instead of an entire family, as is the case in ancient Greece. Disturbingly, in over half of the tombs archaeologists have found the bones of children; burned ruins are evidence that the city was plundered and destroyed.

In 2017, archaeologists discovered fragments of an ancient Greek altar with figures of gods near Chersonesus.

The “1935 basilica” is the most famous building excavated in Chersonesus. Since its original name is unknown, its name refers to the year it was discovered. The basilica was likely built in the 6th century on the site of an earlier temple, itself replacing a small temple dating from the early days of Christianity.

The basilica is often used as an image representing Chersonesos; its image appears on a Ukrainian banknote.

Chersonesus listed as UNESCO site in 2013; Crimea annexed by Russia the next year

The Institute of Classical Archaeology of the University of Texas at Austin and the local Archaeological Park has been in charge of investigating the site since 1992.

In 2013, “The Ancient City of Tauric Chersonese and its Chora” was finally listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

During the 2014 Crimean crisis, the Crimean peninsula was annexed by Russia, but UNESCO has maintained that it will continue to recognize Crimea and its heritage sites as belonging to Ukraine.

The encroachment of modern building in and around the ancient archaeological site, located just outside modern Sevastopol, coupled with a lack of funding to prevent such development pressures, has led to the ancient Greek site of Chersonesus in Crimea being considered “at risk.”

In an October 2010 report titled Saving Our Vanishing Heritage, Global Heritage Fund identified Chersonesus as one of 12 worldwide sites most “On the Verge” of irreparable loss and destruction, citing insufficient management and development pressures as primary causes.

Iannis Xenakis, the Greek Composer Who Revolutionized Music

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Iannis Xenakis
Greek Composer Iannis Xenakis in Paris. Credit: Friends of Xenakis Organization/ CC-BY-SA-2.5

Greek composer Iannis Xenakis has an enduring legacy as one of the foremost composers of avant-garde music in the twentieth century. He came to music composition through many diverse passions and integrated them all throughout his work.

At once an engineer, architect, and mathematician, Xenakis had the multifaceted genius that Greek culture is so well-known for. He also lived through some of the most trying times in Greek history.

Born in 1922 to wealthy Greek parents living in Romania, he came back to Greece at the age of ten to attend a boarding school on the island of Spetses.

By the time Xenakis was eighteen and ready to pursue a more advanced education in architecture and engineering, Italy had invaded Greece at the outset of World War II. The invasion soon led to the Nazi occupation of Greece, which wrenched him from his scholarly pursuits and thrust him into the strife of life during wartime.

The Nazi Occupation in Greece

Greece was divided into three zones after it fell to the Germans in April of 1941.
Of course, it was the Germans who ruled parts of Athens along with Thessaloniki, most of the island of Crete, and areas in the Aegean.

However, it was the nation of Bulgaria which controlled the region of Thrace and eastern sections of Macedonia. Italy was the nation in charge of most of mainland Greece under occupation.

Xenakis overcame violence

Xenakis joined the Greek National Liberation Front during the years of Nazi occupation. The Front was a communist organization resisting the occupation through protest as well as armed conflict.

He struggled psychologically with the violence that was part of his role in the resistance. He also suffered an incredibly traumatizing injury when a British projectile exploded on him, leaving his left eye blind and his face greatly disfigured thereafter.

Xenakis was able to finish his degree in 1947, but at that time, the Greek government sought to persecute former members of the National Liberation Front, and he was given a death sentence for his affiliation with communism.

Xenakis then fled to Paris in order to escape his fate at the hands of Greece’s new government.

Rise to prominence in Paris

Xenakis’ training in civil engineering landed him his first job in Paris assisting the renowned architect Le Corbusier. He quickly proved himself to be a visionary in his own right, eventually becoming a lead project manager and even collaborator of Le Corbusier’s.

Xenakis managed the entire construction of the 1958 Brussels World’s Fair Pavilion, known as the “Philips Pavilion,” adapted from Le Corbusier’s idea.

Le Corbusier Philips Pavilion greek composer
The Philips Pavilion for the 1958 Brussels World Fair, designed by Le Corbusier and executed by Iannis Xenakis. Credit: Herbert Behrens/ CC-BY-SA-3.0

Xenakis, ever the polymath, studied music while working as an architect. He longed for the tutelage of a professional composer, but when he initially showed them his work he faced rejection and misunderstanding, one even claiming that his mathematical compositions were “not music.”

Finally he approached renowned French composer Olivier Messiaen, who immediately recognized a flash of brilliance in Xenakis’ incorporation of mathematics into his compositions. He also associated this idiosyncratic strength with Xenakis’ Greekness:

“[Y]ou have the good fortune of being Greek, of being an architect and having studied special mathematics. Take advantage of these things. Do them in your music.”

Iannis Xenakis’ Hybrid Masterpieces

The Greek composer studied intensely with Messiaen from 1951 to 1953 while maintaining his post at Le Corbusier’s architecture studio. As he mastered musical rhythm, he began to understand the precise balance between statistical mathematics and music composition.

He produced his first work, Anastenaria (1953–54), a triptych, or three part piece, inspired by the Northern Greek dance ritual of the same name. The third part of the piece, Metastaseis, is considered Xenakis’ breakthrough and the earliest example of the style he became known for.

It stands so singularly that Xenakis decided to remove it from the triptych.

Xenakis’ mathematical proficiency led him to developing computer programs, algorithms, and synthesizers to create unique sounds.

The polymath also created a computer program called UPIC that allowed users to draw musical waveforms with a tablet that would then be translated by the program into corresponding sounds.

The Greek genius’ health severely diminished toward the end of the twentieth century. In 1999, just two years prior to his death, he was given the Polar Music Award.

The distinction was bestowed on him, as the organizers stated, “for a long succession of forceful works, charged with sensitivity, commitment and passion, through which he has come to rank among the most central composers of our century in the realm of art music, exercising within its various fields an influence which cannot be readily overstated.”

Xenakis passed away at the age of seventy-eight on February 4, 2001.

New York Is the Athens of America, Says Eric Adams in Greece Visit

Athens New York twinning
Mayors Adams and Bakoyannis declared New York and Athens twin cities. Credit: AMNA

The mayors of Athens and New York signed a twinning agreement on Thursday at the Greek capital’s Town Hall.

Athens Mayor Kostas Bakoyannis, who received visiting New York Mayor Eric Adams, underscored in his speech that, despite being divided by an ocean, the two cities are linked by a common goal of democracy and eliminating inequalities.

“From the Parthenon to the Statue of Liberty and from Astoria to Koukaki, we are proud to offer the opportunity to the thousands of Greeks of New York to see the two capitals of their heart come even closer,” he said.

Athens and New York believe in the values of democracy

On his part, Adams noted that New York is the Athens of the U.S. because both cities believe in the values of democracy, the eradication of social inequalities, and the protection of the environment to ensure a better quality of life for inhabitants.

“The aim should be for the two cities to work together to solve the same problems and become model cities for whole world,” the New York mayor said.

“We are going to work together to grow tourism between our two cities, address climate change, commit to cultural cooperation, and more. Athens teaches us that we must always dream and work towards a better tomorrow,” he added.

The sister city agreement — which recognizes the crucial role of cities in the stability, development, prosperity, sustainability, and well-being of their societies and their citizens — focuses on several key issues of collaboration, including:

  • Investigating the organization of joint art exhibitions, festivals, concerts, opera, theater, ballet, or other relevant cultural events;
  • Engaging in information sharing about the resilience of modern urban centers, specifically on topics related to climate change mitigation challenges, prevention of natural disasters, and emergency management, including earthquakes, winter weather emergencies, and wildfires;
  • Exchanging best practices and know-how on the digitalization of municipal services, such as the issuance of official forms, licenses, and electronic applications without requiring the citizen’s physical presence; and
  • Examining appropriate ways to encourage the travel of their citizens to each other’s respective city in order for them to visit their monuments and local landmarks.

Adams is in Athens for the World Summit of Mayors against Anti-Semitism, which is co-organized by the Municipality of Athens, the organization Combat Antisemitism Movement (CAM), and the Centre for Jewish Impact in cooperation with the Jewish Federations of North America.

“Anti-Semitism is on the rise in America and around the world,” Adams wrote on Twitter. “It has become normalized. My fellow Mayors from around the world and I are fighting back.”

“I am proud to stand with them in Greece,” he added.

“Athens is very proud to host the Summit of Mayors against Anti-Semitism,” Bakoyannis said in a Facebook post.

“Hate has no place in our societies,” he added. “The capital of Greece has historically and throughout time been synonymous with democracy, security and freedom for all.”

Mayors and representatives from fifty-three cities and twenty-three countries take part in the World Summit of Mayors against Anti-Semitism.

“Mayors and other local and regional decision-makers are the closest officials to the ground in towns and cities around the world,” said CEO of Combat Antisemitism Movement (CAM) Sacha Roytman Dratwa.

“They have the best understanding of the challenges and the solutions to combat all forms of hate, including antisemitism,” Dratwa said. “They are the ones charged with issues that take place on their streets and neighborhoods, so they are closest to the pulse of their communities.”

CAM is a global coalition engaging more than six hundred partner organizations and nearly two million people from a diverse array of religious, political, and cultural backgrounds in the common mission of fighting the world’s oldest hatred.

Ancient Greek Sport of Boxing Dropped From Olympics

Boxing Olympic Games Ancient Greece
Boxers on a Panathenaic amphora in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Credit: /Wikimedia Commons/

The ancient Greek sport of boxing will be dropped from the Olympic Games starting in 2028 the International Olympic Committee (IOC) decided recently.

The decision was made after an independent review of boxing at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro found evidence of “corruption, bribery and the manipulation of sporting results.”

This means that the 2024 Games in Paris could be the last time boxing appears at the Olympics unless the decision is overturned.

The International Olympic Committee president, Thomas Bach, recently warned that weightlifting and boxing are the “two problem children” of the Olympic movement” and remain at risk of being removed from the 2028 Los Angeles Games program.

Bach expressed his deepest concerns about weightlifting, which has faced significant doping and governance issues, while it was made clear to boxing that it needed to continue making significant reforms following financial problems and the judging scandal at the 2016 Rio Games.

International Boxing Association (IBA) President Umar Kremlev has warned any decision to exclude the sport from future editions of the Olympic Games will not be received quietly.

“We are increasing our numbers, [and] there are millions who love boxing,” Kremlev told an online press conference from Dubai recently.

“More than one billion people love boxing,” Kremlev said. “In my opinion, nobody will be silent if they try to exclude boxing from the Olympics. As a boxing community and organization, we will do everything possible in our power to keep boxing in the Olympics.”

A third sport, the modern pentathlon, was also told to replace horse riding with a more inclusive sport if it wanted to be included in the LA Games.

Meanwhile, skateboarding, surfing, and sport climbing are in the list of twenty-eight sports for LA 2028 that will be submitted for approval when the IOC meets in Beijing in February.

“The proposed inclusion of these youth-focused sports is based on the significant contribution to the overall success of the Olympic Games of Tokyo 2020, their commitment to innovation and the partnership expressed by LA 28,” Bach said. “We are also recognizing the deep roots…these three sports have in LA and in California.”

Boxing in the Olympic Games in ancient Greece since 688 BC

Boxing was one of the most popular sports at the Olympic Games in ancient Greece. It became an Olympic Games sport as early as 688 BC. Onomastos Smyrnaios was the first champion in Olympic boxing.

At the time, the god Apollo was regarded as the inventor and guardian of the sport of boxing.

Boxing (Greek: Πυγμαχία), meaning “fighting with the fists” in ancient Greece, originated as a very tough sport, much harder than professional boxing as we know it today.

There are archeological discoveries showing that the ancient Greeks held boxing matches as early as the Minoan and Mycenaean periods.

It is obvious that winning in such a sport required huge reserves of physical—and even mental—strength. Therefore, the few great boxers whose names have gone down in history were revered as superheroes.

The Spartan Ipposthenes was most likely the top boxer in ancient days in Greece, winning first place in five consecutive Olympic Games. This means that for sixteen consecutive years, he was boxing at the very highest level of this challenging sport.

Diagoras of Rhodes, a one-time Olympic winner, four-time winner in Isthmia, and two-time winner in Nemea, was over two meters (6 feet 6 inches) tall and boxed without twisting aside or ducking, making no effort to avoid the blows of his opponent.

Libra Executive Chairman Meets With President of Panama; Announces Projects in the Country

Libra Panama
George Logothetis meets President Cortizo in Panama. Credit: Libra Group

George Logothetis, executive chairman of Libra Group, visited Panama last week to announce a series of programs in the Latin American country.

Libra Group is an international business with assets and operations across more than fifty-four countries and six continents.

Logothetis met with the President of Panama Laurentino Cortizo to discuss Libra Group’s strong and growing relationship with Panama as well as Libra’s presence, including its subsidiaries FCA and Greenwood Energy, which recently announced a breakthrough partnership with the University of Panama.

Libra Group is a company that supports our energy transition strategy, currently with two investment projects,” President Cortizo said after the meeting. “The company has generated 1,000 jobs to deliver solar efficiency and cost-saving in the University of Panama and public offices.”

Libra strengthens Panama’s renewable energy infrastructure

During his trip to Panama Logothetis, born into a Greek shipping family, focused on the “three spheres” of Libra’s world, including philanthropy/social impact, business, and government.

Last June, Libra Group subsidiary Greenwood Energy (GWE) announced the launch of the Alma Mater public-private partnership with the University of Panama, the largest university in the country, for the development of a new utility-scale solar plant in David, Panama.

The project will allow the University of Panama to be the first public university entirely powered by renewable energy sources in Latin America.

Libra Group Panama
The Executive Chairman at the University of Panama discussed educational training on renewable energy with Logothetis. Credit: Libra Group

This development will be paired with nearly thirty million dollars in academic and technical support to advance and grow Panama’s renewable energy future. The funding includes scholarship grants, research and development programs, training, internships, and laboratory equipment.

“This partnership represents Libra Group’s commitment to reimaging development through our subsidiaries around the world,” commented  Logothetis, at the time adding that “This includes creating dynamic and scalable models that advance economic and educational opportunity for future leaders and laying the building blocks for purpose-led development.”

Once the agreement ends, ownership of the solar facility will be transferred to the university for the remainder of the plant’s life cycle.

Libra extends internship program for students in Panama

Logothetis also met with the University of Panama students for a Q&A on Libra Group, including the company’s internship program.

A group of students had the opportunity to hear about truly inspiring and motivating experiences from him on how to strive to achieve the goals that each one sets for themselves.

Libra Panama
Logothetis meets with students at Panama University. Credit: Libra Group

Logothetis invited the best five students to participate in either Concordia Americas or the Annual Concordia Summit. He also extended an invitation to a group of students or faculty members to visit Greece or New York to share what Libra’s energy subsidiaries are developing, share practices, and import intellectual knowledge to Panama.

“Mr. Logothetis took advantage of the moment to talk about the 10 Social Responsibility programs carried out by The Libra Group, and the internship program for students where he invited all to apply,” teaching assistant Clemente Yoel Rodríguez said.

Logothetis had recently delivered a stirring speech at the Concordia Summit, which Libra launched in 2011 as a founding sponsor.

Speaking at the start of the Summit at which the top movers and shakers of today’s world convened, he said that Concordia’s mission from the beginning was to bring diverse voices from all levels together to discuss the world’s most pressing challenges.

According to Logothetis, Concordia is the place where students can meet Presidents and exchange views.

Providing support for unwed mothers

Logothetis also met with unwed mothers Voces Vitales, who runs Centro Las Claras, located in Felipillo. It supports teenage moms by providing emotional support and skills training during an eighteen-month program.

The stories of the remarkable teenage mothers were deeply moving, as was the work of the staff. Immediately following the visit, Libra Group’s social programs pledged to find ways to support the organization.

Logothetis also committed to providing clinician training in maternal mental health through the Seleni Institute, which is committed to providing psychotherapy for women, men, and families experiencing maternal mental health and family-building challenges.

Libra Group is predominately focused on six sectors, including aviation, energy, hospitality, real estate, shipping, and diversified investments.

Along with Greenwood Energy, Libra Group subsidiaries, including Greenwood Sustainable Infrastructure (www.greenwoodinfra.com) in North America and Euro Energy (www.euroenergy.com), will soon reach the one-gigawatt development mark in renewable energy. This includes solar, wind, and waste-to-energy in six countries.

Crete Celebrates Union With Greece on December 1st

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Chania, Crete. Credit: Dimitra Damian/ Greek Reporter

On December 1, 1913, the island of Crete was officially integrated into the Greek state after Sultan Mehmet V had finally relinquished all sovereignty over the island exactly a month earlier.

Crete’s liberation from Ottoman rule was the result of a violent struggle that lasted close to a century and cost a great deal of blood to gain, as Cretans joined Greece’s War of Independence on June 14, 1821, according to most historians.

However, on Sunday, December 1, 1913, the official announcement of the island’s union with Greece took place in a festive atmosphere in sunny Chania in the presence of King Constantine and Prime Minister Eleftherios Venizelos.

The day Crete was unified with Greece

That day, the white and blue, alongside Byzantine flags, was hoisted across the city and the whole island. Incredibly, this marked the first time that a Greek king had landed on the island since Byzantine Emperor Nikiforos Fokas, who reigned from 963-969, and who had kicked the Arabs out of Crete.

According to the Athenian newspaper Estia’s correspondent from Chania, the events culminated at 11:50 in the morning, when Revolutionary War veterans Anagnostis Mantakas, 94, and Hatzimichalis Giannaris, 88, raised the Greek flag at the Firkas fortress, to the reports of 101 cannons fired off by Greek warships in celebration.

Crete had fallen into the hands of the Ottomans on October 4, 1669, when their army entered Chandakas (present-day Heraklion), putting an end to 465 years of Venetian rule, which had lasted from 1204 to 1669.

Despite the fact that many fled the island, Cretans never really knuckled under to their new rulers. Two uprisings in the following decades, the “Movement of 1692” and the “Revolt of Daskalogiannis” in 1770, failed. They nevertheless showed the Ottomans that Cretans did not accept their rule over them.

In 1821, Cretans joined mainland Greece in the national uprising, but their efforts did not succeed due to the large number of Ottomans and Ottoman Cretans on the island and the dearth of armaments.

Still, uprisings against the conquerors continued with undiminished intensity. In 1833, it was the “Movement of Mournia”; in 1841 the “Revolt of Hairetis and Vasilogeorgis”; in 1858 the “Movement of Mavrogenis”; and in 1866 to 1869, the “Great Cretan Revolution” took place.

The unrest went on with the “Revolution of 1878,” the “Revolution of 1889,” and the “Revolution of 1897-1898,” when Crete finally gained its autonomy with the blessing of the Great Powers after the shocking atrocities committed by the Ottomans in Heraklion on August 25, 1898.

Crete had resisted Ottoman rule for years

On November 2, 1898, the last Ottoman soldier finally left Cretan territory. It was that year when Crete came under the protection of both the Great Powers and only the high sovereignty of the Sultan.

A separate Cretan state was established from 1898 to 1913, with Greece’s King George as Commissioner and a government consisting of five Christians and one Muslim since, in 1900, about 25 percent of the island’s inhabitants were Muslim.

The dominant political figure of that period was a young lawyer by the name of Eleftherios Venizelos, who soon came into conflict with King George. The “Revolt in Therissos” on March 10, 1905, organized by Venizelos, forced the Greek king to resign from power and hand over the high commission to Greek politician Alexandros Zaimis.

The main demand of the insurgents was the immediate union of Crete with Greece.
Greece’s victory in the Balkan Wars (1912-1913) that many attribute to the insightful policies of Greek Prime Minister Eleftherios Venizelos, accelerated these political developments.

On May 30, 1913, the Sultan signed away all his rights to Crete with the Treaty of London (Article 4), while, with a special treaty, he resigned his sovereignty on the island on November 1, 1913.

Finally, Crete was free and its union with Greece had become a reality at last.
In 1923, with the population exchange between Greece and Turkey, the last Muslims left Crete. Most of them settled on the shores of Asia Minor.

From then on, Crete became an integral part of Greece despite a rumor saying that in 2013—a hundred years from the 1913 treaty—a secret article stipulated that the island could secede from Greece and become independent.