Δευτέρα, 28 Μαρτίου 2016

International Press Coverage of the Greek Debt Crisis !!! An open lecture

     

On April 8, 2016, journalist and writer Justine Frangouli-Argyris, a weekly blogger for the Huffington Post and until recently the Athens News Agency correspondent for Canada, will deliver a talk on the international press and its coverage of the Greek debt crisis.

Drawing on her extensive experience in print and digital media, Ms. Frangouli-Argyris will examine the—in her view, decidedly harsh —portrayal of Greece in the international media from 2010 to the present. An open discussion will follow her talk.

The lecture, organized by the Research Institute of Hellenic American University, in cooperation with Hellenic American College, will be held on Friday, April 8th at 19:00 at the Auditorium of the Massalias 22 building.

The lecture will be given in English.

Ms. Frangouli-Argyris, a native of Lefkada and graduate of the University of Athens Law School, is a journalist and writer. She has been living and working in Montreal, Canada since 1989. She is the author of several best-selling novels, including High Heels for Six and For the Love of Others, as well as several works of non-fiction, among which her authorized biography of Spyridon, former Primate of the Greek Orthodox Church of America.

Ms. Frangouli-Argyris is currently a Huffington Post blogger (USA Edition) and a columnist for various Greek-Canadian and Greek newspapers and websites.

Τετάρτη, 2 Δεκεμβρίου 2015

Justine Frangouli-Argyris’ Latest Novels Travel to New York !!!!


 
The renowned author of the North American Greek Diaspora,
Justine Frangouli-Argyris, presents her latest novels, “High Heels Foreverand Barefoot on the Sand

on Friday, December 18, 2015, from 6-8 p.m. at the Stathakion Cultural Center of New York.


The event will be held under the auspices of the Hellenic Press Office of New York with the generous support of the Lefkadian Association of New York.

 
The works will be introduced by journalist Dimitris Filippides and publisher Demetrios Rhobotis , while the author will be presented by publisher/philanthropist Margo Catsimatides.

 
Excerpts from the books will be performed by the Greek-American actor, Anthoula Katsimatides.

 
The Greek Press Officer, Athanasia Papatriantafyllou, will chair the panel.

 
A cocktail reception will follow during which the author will sign her books.

 

 

Friday, 18 Dec. 2015,  6-8 p.m

Hellenic Societies of Greater New York at:

22-51 29th St, Astoria, NY, 11105. Phone: (718) 204-6500

 

Biographical note:

 

Justine Frangouli-Argyris was born on the Greek island of Lefkada where she completed her primary and secondary education. A graduate of the University of Athens Law School’s Political Science department, Frangouli-Argyris has been a contributor to daily newspapers, radio, television and magazines in Greece and North America since 1983.

 

She is a member of the Union of Journalists of Athens Daily Newspapers (ESIEA), UNEQ (l’Union des Ecrivaines et Ecrivains Quebequois) and the Quebec Writers’ Federation (QWF).

 

Justine Frangouli-Argyris has been living and working in Montreal, Canada since 1989 as a correspondent for the Athens News Agency (ANA). During the same period, she also collaborated with local Greek-Canadian and American radio stations and publications.


She is an author of numerous best-selling works of fiction and biographies and is currently a Huffington Post blogger.

 

Τρίτη, 1 Δεκεμβρίου 2015

Andrianos Maris: Leader and Dreamer!!!

Justine Frangouli-Argyris
Huffington Post

One of the greatest leaders of the Hellenic Community of Greater Montreal, Andrianos Maris, passed away a few days ago. He is the man who changed the root of the community's history, extending its reach and its activities beyond the borders of Montreal island proper. He left behind a great legacy, one that placed the Greek Community of Montreal on another level.
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Andrianos Maris was born in 1925 and died closely after having celebrated his 90th birthday. He completed his elementary schooling in Andros, in 1937, graduated from high school in Athens in 1944 and went on to study business at Pittman's College, in England. Between 1947 and 1952, Maris worked for a shipping company based in London and Piraeus.

He subsequently emigrated to Canada, arriving in Montreal in February of 1952. In December of that same year, he joined with other post-war Greek immigrants in establishing a Greek library on Mansfield Street, in the heart of downtown Montreal.

It was precisely at this time, when the "pre-war" generation of Montreal's Greek immigrants were reluctant to accept any recent "newcomers" into their Agia Triada Community, that Andrianos' success in organizing the Mansfield library resulted in its members being incorporated into the official Greek Community of Montreal shortly afterwards.

In 1955, Andrianos Maris married Mary Campanis, in Athens, who bore him two boys, Nikos, in 1956, and George, in 1958. In 1962, he encountered the respected Archbishop, Athenagoras, to whom he expressed his concerns about the situation and uncertain future of the Greek schools in Montreal. His official involvement in community matters began in 1967 when he became a member of the College of Governors of the Greek Community of Montreal.

In 1980, he was elected president where, a short while later, he was able to realize a big dream by commencing construction on the modern and imposing community centre of the Hellenic Community of Montreal, and this, in the face of much adversity and the persistent negativism of many members.
In 1985, he brought about the much desired union of two local Greek Communities, those of Montreal and South Shore, and laid the groundwork for the construction of South Shore's community center, the church of St. John and another community school, Socrates IV.

In 1986, the famous actress and Greek Minister of Culture, Melina Merkouri, officially inaugurated Montreal's community centre. Immediately following, the Greek Community of Montreal would become a multi-task organization, housing facilities, trilingual schools, churches, institutions and social services, going on to be widely recognized as a model organization of Hellenism in the Diaspora.

I first met Andrianos Maris in 1988, even prior to my settling permanently in Montreal. I admired him for his passion and organizational skills and his great dreams about Hellenism.

Andrianos Maris will be remembered because he conceived the dream of uniting the pre-war and post-war generation of Greek immigrants under one entity, the Hellenic Community of Montreal. The creation of the Library on Mansfield in 1952 made him the first man to pierce the status quo, enabling the joining of all of Montreal's Greeks under one common umbrella.
He closely co-operated with the then head priest of St. George's Cathedral, who is, today, Metropolitan Sotirios of Toronto, to promote the smooth and advantageous transition of the "Socrates" Greek elementary schools from the province's English School Board to the French School Board, enabling an agreement to be signed to this end by the President of the Hellenic Community at the time, Demetrius Manolakos.

It can be said that Andrianos Maris had his glamorous and his difficult moments as president of the Hellenic Community over the span of twelve years (1980-1992). Along the way, he made thousands of friends as well as a handful of enemies. However, he will go down in history as a dreamer, a leader of Hellenism abroad and a protector and preserver of the Greek language and culture in the new lands of the Diaspora.

He was the initiator of the "big dream" of bringing together all the communities of Greater Montreal (Montreal, the South Shore, Laval), stirring both feelings of enthusiasm as well as animosity amongst the Greeks of the city.

Andrianos Maris was a model leader, a passionate man with regards to the survival of Hellenism. Our frequent discussions, in recent years when I would visit him at home, consistently revolved around a key theme: "Will we succeed, as Greeks, in injecting our spirit into the future generations? Will our children speak our language? Will they learn about the glamorous history of Greece in depth?"

I would enjoy my coffee over endless conversations with Andrianos and his wife, Mary, who was the pillar of his existence, his steadfast rock, until his final days. Mary adored her husband. She believed in him and supported him, enduring endless hours of his absence when he was immersed in community matters. She became, in effect, the mother of the whole Greek community.
Andrianos Maris was a landmark of the Greek Community of Montreal and my personal idol, given his Helleno-centric ideas.

In the end, his body may have weakened and ceased to beat, but his spirit will forever soar above the Hellenic Community of Greater Montreal. He is, and will remain, a point of reference for the post-war generation of Montreal's Greek immigrants.

May his memory be everlasting!!!
Photo courtesy of the Hellenic Congress of Quebec

Τρίτη, 17 Νοεμβρίου 2015

We are not Fearful. We are not Hateful. We are Free!

Justine Frangouli-Argyris

Walking the streets of Paris last year, after the murderous attack on the offices,I had the feeling that fear had descended like a cloud, blanketing the "city of light." The hundreds of police cars roaming the streets and the numerous blockades everywhere signified the terror felt by all Parisians. In the cinemas, detectives searched handbags while the air wafting around the Seine smelled of gunpowder. My son would head home early from work, as would his friends. 

 Sadly, Paris was well aware that another attack was taking shape, somewhere in the hollows of some deprived Muslim neighborhood.  As such, the authorities were supposedly hard at work, stepping up their checks and counter-checks on persons known to have contacts with any nefarious Islamic organization.

 The attack on the French train last summer which those brave American soldiers were able to derail given their familiarity with the fight against terror, averted another tragedy. Undaunted, the "Islamofascists" were preparing a new, more sophisticated attack with its plotters freely commuting between Paris and Brussels without anyone so much as batting an eye.

 Until this past Friday the 13th when they simultaneously hit numerous sites around the capital. At the Stade de France where President Hollande was in attendance, in the restaurant, at the bar and in the Bataclan concert hall, the terrorists struck with precision, in suicide bomber fashion, replete with explosives strapped to their bodies. The count currently stands at 129 dead, a result of the extremist religious fury of young Islamists, "heroes" of their own delusions.

 Today, Europe is, once again, stained in blood while, at the same time, thousands of boatloads of Syrians continue landing on Greece's shores without any control of note while, to no one's surprise, it was ascertained that one of the Parisian assassins had crossed into the continent < via the Aegean island of Leros.

 With Turkish traffickers guiding them westward without any regard as to who may be on board, only for what profits are to be had, it is a simple task for any terrorist to hide among the migrants. And, of course, the Greek government, saddled with the tribulations of its debt crisis, is unable to stand up to its European lenders who insist on quickly settling < 50,000 refugees in the country.

 As a Canadian citizen, on the other hand, I am troubled by the insistence of our newly elected Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, to make good on his promise of bringing 25,000 Syrian refugees to this country by year's end. The timeframe for such an undertaking is very short in order to perform the requisite background checks of those seeking political asylum. The authorities, who normally take years to award temporary residence permits, should not view the issue on political or humanitarian terms alone.

Even before last week's tragic events, the Canadian public was clamoring for a thorough investigation of all refuge claimants to the country.  For, as we have seen, there is no room for error as even the smallest oversight can result in the spilling of innocent blood, even in this socially progressive and peaceful bastion in North America.

 As such, I will continue my relentless criticism of this massive, political and uncontrolled, invasion of refugees to Europe and America. Compassion for the migrants is undertsandable but one must weigh the risks involved.

 In any event, I must confess that I  do not fear the Islamofascists, nor will I hate them. However, I have a profound regret that the west continues to turn a blind eye to the spreading of the snake's nest in its midst with the naive immigration policies and minimal safeguards it has adopted over the years. I am saddened that Islam continues to be used by many elements, radical or not, as a homicidal religion thousands of years after its origin.

 Make no mistake. These terrorist attacks are not the result of simple religious fanaticism but, rather, a deeply-rooted hatred by Islamic extremists against the prosperity and progress of the western world. And this hatred often becomes a symbol among young migrants in their host countries. And this hatred often leads to a dance of death!

 It's time to put it bluntly. The Hydra must be beheaded, now! With weapons and war, we must make a Hercules out of Europe! We will no longer tolerate living under the threat of the ISIS.

We are not afraid. We do not hate. We are free!

Τετάρτη, 4 Νοεμβρίου 2015

Sunny Days in Ottawa!

 
 

This is the letter I received last night from our new Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau.
I am sharing it with you for the strong feelings of hope  it bears . I like the father-husband touch and yet the strong commitment of Justin Trudeau for a brighter future here in Canada! I like the title of his new tenure as head of this country: SUNNY DAYS!
 
Justine, as I write to you, evening is falling outside our new home, Rideau Cottage, on the grounds of Rideau Hall in Ottawa.
A few minutes from now, Sophie and I will put Xavier and Ella-Grace to bed (Hadrien is already fast asleep), but before I go, I want to share a few thoughts with you, to mark this moment.
Tomorrow, we take the next step in our journey together. I will be sworn in by the Governor General, and become Canada's 23rd prime minister. And I will announce the team of extraordinary Canadians who will serve as ministers in your new government.
This is all thanks to your support, and the support of millions of Canadians like you. Thank you.
On October 19, Canadians spoke loudly and clearly, that they want a government that will bring real change – in both the things that it does, and the way that it does them.
Our platform promised a new, ambitious plan for a strong and growing middle class. And you rightly expect us to fulfill that promise.
Which is why I am going to spend the next four years working harder than ever to deliver on what we promised.
Before the election, I also made a personal commitment to bring new leadership and a new tone to Ottawa. Sunny ways.
The new Canadian government will work together with our allies, with our provincial, municipal, and territorial partners so we can deliver the real, positive change that we promised you.
And we’ve already started. I just last week extended an invitation to provincial premiers, and opposition leaders to join me in Paris as part of the Canadian delegation to the United Nations Climate Change Conference at the end of this month.
Because being engaged on the international stage is important. It is critical for creating economic growth, good-paying jobs for the middle class, and prosperity for all Canadians. To that end – in addition to the climate change conference in Paris – I have confirmed that I will attend the G20 Leaders’ Summit in Turkey, the APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting in the Philippines and the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Malta.
But we’ll also be getting straight to work at home: The first bill introduced by our government will be a tax cut for the middle class so we can get started right away growing our economy, strengthening our middle class, and helping those working hard to join it.
I am deeply grateful to have this opportunity to serve you – and every Canadian across our great country. I am committed to leading an open, honest government that is accountable to Canadians, lives up to the highest ethical standards, brings our country together, and applies the utmost care and prudence in the handling of public funds.
Thank you for putting your trust in me, and our team. We will not let you down.
Justin Trudeau
Justin Trudeau
Prime Minister-designate

Τετάρτη, 2 Σεπτεμβρίου 2015

Chronicle of a Death Foretold!

Justine Frangouli-Argyris
 
The legitimate grievances and protests of the stranded passengers of SkyGreece, the recently established, Greek-based air carrier, on the social and other media of Canada and Greece causes me deep sadness and much disappointment.

Sadness because SkyGreece failed in its efforts to establish itself as the national carrier of the Greek Diaspora in North America and in such a short period of time and even though it had even begun to even draw passengers from the Balkan countries surrounding Greece.

Frustration because the company that seems to have ceased operations as a result of financial difficulties was not able to rise to the occasion and meet its obligation to some 1,000 passengers who were left without any means of coming back to Canada. Indeed, the return of the last individuals back home would have closed, in a most dignified manner, the company's debt to its traveling public and reinforced its much ballyhooed reputation for good service, and this, through the most difficult of times.

SkyGreece began as a promising startup back in 2012 when the company’s investors acquired their first airplane. Both the Hellenic name and the Greek flag on its tail instilled a proud feeling amongst the Greek Diaspora which had been clamoring for the start of a new carrier to cover the gap left over by the demise of Greece’s national carrier, Olympic Airways.

The predominant role played by its CEO, the well-known and respected Fr. Nicholas Alexandris, in the company’s public relations was paramount in ensuring good faith as to the sincerity of SkyGreece’s intentions.

Personally, knowing some of the Greek-Canadian investors who had a solid track record of success in the tourism industry for years, I felt that, surely, the time was ripe for this Greek-centered investment to flourish.

When SkyGreece inaugurated its routes in the spring of 2015, I was convinced that the operation was on sound footing and that a positive outlook of its future development was a given. As such, on my journey to Greece this past June, I opted for SkyGreece in order to experience, firsthand, everything that had to do with the quality of the nascent airline’s services.

The trip to and from Athens was excellent. The pilots, mostly former captains of Olympic Airways, commanded the plane with deft smoothness, showcasing their exceptional flying abilities.  The flight crew was young, always smiling and ever so quick to provide excellent service. Although not an aficionado of airline fare, the menu, developed around Greek recipes, more than met all my expectations.

Suddenly, last June, very shortly after SkyGreece had begun to solidify its reputation and fill its planes, the closure of Greece’s banks as a result of the country’s prolonged negotiations with its lenders began to quickly asphyxiate the newly established company.  With its registry in Greece and, as a result, access to its funds limited and with overseas bills to pay, the end quickly approached.

Greece’s capital controls resulted in the company being late in remitting payment for its landing rights at Canadian airports and led to the eventual immobilization of the company’s single airplane at Toronto’s Pearson airport. Regardless, the company’s main shareholder, Ken Stathakis, insists that SkyGreece has not gone into bankruptcy and, that, despite its difficulties, will survive.

As a Greek-Canadian journalist, I sincerely wish that SkyGreece resumes operations by managing to overcome the obstacles of its current state of affairs and begins anew as a more stable organization.

I believe that the significant sums invested in securing the company's itineraries should not go to waste but must be exploited to the benefit of all Greek expatriates and, in turn, the Greek tourism industry at large.

I, who has witnessed the shuttering of other major air carriers plying the non-stop route to Greece every summer, confess that SkyGreece, albeit during its brief period of operation excelled and, this, under intense pressure from a slew of competitors. Undoubtedly, the capital controls along with the instability of Greece’s economy and the political uncertainty surrounding the country did not help the promising company.

Regardless, I am hopeful that the carrier is able to compensate its weary passengers and learn from its missteps. I, for one, hereby declare that I will reboard SkyGreece once again next year should operations resume!

Πέμπτη, 11 Ιουνίου 2015

Across the Atlantic “à la Grecque” With SkyGreece!




Justine Frangouli-Argyris

A new airline, funded by Greek-Canadian entrepreneurs and proudly bearing the name “SkyGreece,” was inaugurated in May with the aim of servicing the transatlantic route connecting Athens to the Canadian metropolises of Toronto and Montréal.  As of June 19th, SkyGreece will be adding the city of New York to its destinations, with the initial flight to be launched in the presence of the Greek Deputy Minister for Tourism, Elena Kountoura.

 With the Greek flag adorning the tail of its aircraft, “Taxiarhis,” SkyGreece causes waves of emotion whenever it lands at Toronto’s “Pearson” and Montreal’s “Trudeau” airport as Canada’s expatriate Greeks openly display their excitement that a Greek carrier has come along to solidify their ties with the homeland.

 
The administration of SkyGreece has presented their ambitious plans for the new airline which aims to link the diaspora of North America with Greece. Thoroughly Greek in their approach, SkyGreece’s direct flights enable passengers to indulge in Greece’s famous hospitality, sampling tasty Greek cuisine and enjoying a variety of Greek music. Furthermore, pamphlets with tourist information about Greece are available inside the aircraft with the goal of informing and promoting Greek tourism at large.

 
The launch of the flights have come none too soon, filling a deep void that has existed since 2009 when Olympic Airways ceased transatlantic operations. "We were the only ones who came from North America to invest in Greece.  If the outcome is successful, it will be seen as a pilot project for potential investors,” stressed SkyGreece’s chairman, Fr. Nicholas Alexandris, recently.

 
It is no coincidence that SkyGreece selected former Olympic Airways pilots to anchor its team. It was on September 29, 2009 when Captain Basil Dorizas landed an Olympic A340 Airbus at Athens’ Eleftherios Venizelos airport, marking the airline’s last flight from Canada. On May 17, 2014 Dorizas joined SkyGreece, wanting to contribute to the development of a new Greek air carrier whose planes bear the Greek flag.

 
"Greeks in Canada, where I have lived for the last thirty years, were left out once Olympic Airways severed the umbilical cord between Canada and Greece," says Father Alexandris.

 For the time being and to no one’s surprise, Father Alexandris bases his expectations for the success of SkyGreece on the large Greek expat communities in New York, Montreal and Toronto that were suddenly left wanting when Olympic suspended service.

 Greece’s Deputy Tourism Minister, Elena Kountouras, has expressed her government’s support for SkyGreece Airlines, noting that it is a worthy project that aims to connect Greek expatriates with their Motherland. Ms. Kountouras also did not fail to mention that the Greek flag adorning SkyGreece’s fleet is a picture that evokes emotion.

 
The airline is based in Markopoulo, outside Athens, and was founded in 2012 by Greek-Canadian expatriates. Today, it boasts offices in New York, Montreal and Toronto and has a total of 150 employees, 100 of whom are based in Greece. This is not simply another airline, but, rather, a company that hopes to add to the development of Greek tourism and create more jobs in the sector.

  
SkyGreece is launching a route between Toronto, Budapest and Thessaloniki in order to serve the expatriates from northern Greece, while at the same time filling a gap in the Hungarian airline industry that does not provide a direct connection with Toronto.

 The immediate plans are to inaugurate another flight linking Toronto with Zagreb (via Athens) in order to embrace the growing tourist destinations of the Dalmatian Coast in conjunction with those of Greece.

 The company wants to become a protagonist in the airline industry by unlocking “new” markets, offering competitive pricing and growing its network with the addition of flights to Chicago, Boston and South Africa as well as other European cities beyond 2016. As administration officials stressed, the initial capital invested is in the range of 45 million dollars and expectations are for profitability to be attained within two years.

 Ticket prices range from $850, including all taxes, with passengers having the added luxury of bringing along two suitcases (each weighing 20 kg) at no additional cost.

 Foremost, SkyGreece’s flights are manned by senior pilots with years of transatlantic experience, the majority of whom worked for Olympic Airways. Captain Dorizas, SkyGreece’s director of flight operations, explained that the measures undertaken by the company concerning the issue of security are much more stringent than those required by existing regulations, one aspect being that SkyGreece’s cockpits have two pilots along with a co-pilot instead of the usual pilot/co-pilot requirement.

 SkyGreece has been approved by the major licensing agencies of EASA, the CTA and the FAA, ensuring flight licenses in Europe, Canada and the United States respectively.