At democracy’s birthplace, Macron dreams of Europe 2.0

Standing at a Greek site where democracy was conceived, French President Emmanuel Macron called on members of the European Union to reboot the 60-year-old bloc with sweeping political reforms or risk a “slow disintegration.”

Macron, on a visit on Thursday to Athens, urged EU nations to carry out six-month national reviews on EU reforms before imposing them — signaling his distance with the German-backed approach based on fiscal discipline within the eurozone.

“It would be a mistake to abandon the European ideal,” Macron said. “We must rediscover the enthusiasm that the union was founded upon and change, not with technocrats and not with bureaucracy.”

Elected by a landslide in May, the 39-year-old Macron has vowed to back efforts for closer integration in the EU, which has been rattled by a financial crisis, migration issues, a populist backlash and Britain’s decision to leave.

His proposal found enthusiastic support in bailout-stricken Greece, which considers France a vital ally and counterweight to fiscally hawkish Germany in its efforts to ease the stringent terms of its international rescue loans.

Reinforcing his message, Macron urged the International Monetary Fund to step back from its role in European bailouts — breaking with a widely accepted policy adopted when Greece sought international help seven years ago.

“I don’t think it was the right method for the IMF to supervise European programs and intervene in the way it did,” he said. “Let’s work within Europe and not turn to outside agencies.”

The eurozone rescue fund, the European Stability Mechanism, should play the lead role in financial rescue within the euro currency zone, he said.

France, Europe’s No. 2 economy, had previously backed Germany’s insistence in involving the IMF to enforce austerity measures that came with bailout programs in Greece and other rescued economies including Ireland, Portugal and Cyprus.

Athens has relied on international rescue loans since 2010, and in return has seen its economy put under strict supervision by its creditors. Successive governments have had to enforce radical fiscal and structural reforms, including pension cuts and repeated tax hikes, in order to qualify for the loans.

Thursday’s visit came hours after Hurricane Irma, the strongest Atlantic Ocean hurricane on record, battered French, British and Dutch territories in the Caribbean.

“All of France is grief-stricken by the many victims yesterday from the hurricane,” Macron said. He promised to visit the region when the weather lets up and put climate change “at the heart” of policymaking.

His evening speech was given in front of the ancient Acropolis on Pnyx Hill, where popular assemblies were held in Athens 2,500 years ago and the idea of democracy was developed.

The French president delivered his opening remarks in Greek, delighting an audience that included most of the Greek Cabinet.

Elsewhere in the city, heated arguments broke out between police and stranded motorists as roads were closed across the capital for hours. More than 2,000 police officers were on duty for the visit.

A small group of left-wing demonstrators defied a 17-hour protest ban and forced their way through a cordon, briefly clashing with police.




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With the Greek economy in ruins and the Greek banks still closed, the Greek parliament approved the terms of the latest (3rd) Greek bailout deal offered to Geece by its creditors: the European Central Bank (ECB), the European Commission and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

A majority of 229 Greek parliament members voted yes to a new bill, turning into law the difficult terms of Greece’s 3rd bailout, a prerequisite set by Greece’s creditors.

According to Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, Greece had no other choice than accepting more austerity, if the country did not want to face a Grexit; an exclusion from the Eurozone and the introduction of a new currency in the country.

Fierce Debate

The Greek Parliament convened on Wednesday evening to discuss the bailout deal Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras agreed to with the country’s international creditors in Brussels on Monday.

The Greek Prime minister urged the Greek parliament to vote the deal, although he called it a bad deal he said that this is the only choice for debt-ridden Greece.

Following intense speeches from lawmakers of the various parties, Tsipras once again spoke of a hard and unequal battle between the people’s right and the economic powers and the ideological and political defferences that exist in Europe and which manifested these past few weeks.

Earlier in the night, Finance Minister, Euclid Tsakalotos, discussed the bailout deal, which he signed, noting that its effects will be judged in the future and will hinge on political developments in Europe.

“Monday was the hardest day of my life. It was decision that I will carry with me for the rest of my life. I do not know if we did the right thing, I know we did not have many options,” he said.

Tsakalotos also talked about what needs to be done from here on and emphasised the need for anti-austerity alliances to form in Europe.

“I just know one thing. If the left cannot attack the old party system then this country has no future,” he said.

Party leaders and spokespersons addressed the parliament,in a session that had supporters as well as opposers of the deal who expressed their dismay with Greece’s government.

 by Anastasios Papapostolou – – See more at:

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Chalkidiki is characterised by its important historical and cultural wealth, which is inextricably linked to the mining activity in the area, and in particular in its northeastern part, which is rich in mixed sulfide ores. Furthermore, it is the area where mining activities began earlier than in other Roman areas, in the Roman era.

The Kassandra mines expand in a wider area of a total surface of 200 square kilometers among the villages of Olympiada, Stanou, Megali Panagia and Ierissos. They include the deposits of basic sulfide and precious sulfide metals of Olympiada, Madem Lakkos, Mavres Petres, the deposits of manganese-gold of Piavitsa and Varvara and the deposits of copper-gold of Skouries and Megali Panagia.

The mines of gold, silver, lead, zinc, copper and manganese of the Northern Chalkidiki (Stratoni and Olympiada) consisted the main financing source of the kingdom of Macedon and of the campaigns of Alexander the Great.

Cornel L. Sagui, in his article “The ancient Mining Works of Cassandra”, which has been published in the Economic Geology magazine, claims that he found here, in the galleries of the mines of Lipzada (Olympiada), coins of Philip and of Alexander.

In the area remain more than 300 wells and approximately 200,000 cubic meters of ancient metallurgical debris, the common “rust” which are remains of the ore smelting. Based on historical sources and on results of direct and indirect analyses and determinations that have been performed for the aforementioned rust, the beginning of the activity dates back to the beginning of the Classical antiquity.

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Pactolus, the gold-bearing river of Asia Minor originates in mount Tmolus. It was in the proximity of this river that the ancient inhabitants of the area found and used the Lydian stone (lydite). It was a black rock of an extraordinary hardness, a sort of black jasper. They carved on the Lydian stone a trace of a golden object and in this way they could determine the gold content of the object, that is, its carats. It is a method that is still used in order to find the gold content of gold alloys.

The exploitation of gold deposits in Asia Minor began rather early; ancient sources mention that the Lydians exploited mineral gold in the area of mount Tmolus and transported it through the rivers Pactolus and Hermus. However, researchers do not agree on the date the exploitations of the above deposits began. Some scientists believe that the exploitation began in the early Iron Age, others in the second half of the 8th century BC, or even in the 7th century BC. More recently scientists argued that the Pactolus gold was already mined in the 3d millennium BC. However the latest research studies do not confirm that gold was mined in Lydia in such an early period. From what Herodotus mentions about river Pactolus, it can be deduced that the Greeks regarded the city of Sardis as an important precious metals market. Close to very rich gold-bearing deposits on mount Tmolus lied Ephesus. Finally, it is possible that the exploitation of the gold-bearing area in Astyra, close to Abydos, which is reported by Strabo and Xenophon, began in the Classical era. The fact, however, that gold is the second most frequently mentioned metal by Homer cannot be accidental.

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