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Monday, January 03, 2005 

2004 in the Rearview Mirror

For all the news junkies around the world, the year 2004 didn't disappoint. It was a year of many global changes, surprises and upheavals but for many, most of these events weren't happy ones. I'd be interested to read some of my reader's views on their thoughts about the previous year's highlights. Here are just a few of the events that stand out in my memory of the year.

Greece's New Leadership
In March, the 20 year reign of Greece's socialist party, PASOK was over and Costas Karamanlis and his New Democratic Party took the helm. Almost 10 months later, they still have to prove themselves worthy of the job. They've had their grace period, 2005 will be a deciding year for their effectiveness as leaders.

EU Expansion
On May 1, Europe added 10 new members to its club and even gave Turkey a starting date for accession talks. On the surface, it would seem a noble cause to finally include some former communist countries within the EU fold. I welcome the new members and hope that Turkey will be able to meet the requirements of EU membership so they, too, can reap some benefits that the EU has to offer. But many of the new entrants' opinions were divided as to whether or not joining would bring them the prosperity and economic stability promised them. The EU-15 members were worried about the possibility of an influx of cheap labour coming to their doorsteps and the loss of their EU aid to the new members. And all EU members are worried about having 70 million muslims joining their club.

Euro 2004
Being the underdog and beating 100 to 1 odds, Greece won the Europe's coveted Euro 2004 trophy in July. The nation celebrated for days and it was wonderful to see the entire country have something to be truly happy about. Bravo Greece!

Athens 2004 Summer Olympics
What a relief that the preparations for the Games were finally completed and if it weren't for the National Disgraces known as Kenteris & Thanou (athletes charged with doping), the staging of the Games would have been virtually flawless. Unfortunately, the price tag is the jagged pill Greece will be trying to swallow and justify for years to come.

Beslan, Russia
In the beginning of September, Chechen terrorists took about 1,000 people hostage in a school in Beslan. Most of them children. By the time it was over, more than 300 had died. Absolutely NO cause in the world is worth the murder of innocent children. Any sympathy I ever had for the Chechens I lost it the second they took those children hostage. If there is a God, may He never absolve them of this atrocity.

Same government. Same Iraq. Same mess.

One of the world's worst humanitarian disasters with 1.2 million refugees and thousands of dead bodies thanks to the government sponsored Janjaweed reign of terror over these poor people. With Iraq dominating so much media attention, these people have been basically forgotten. It's high time the UN live up to its mission statement "to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war" and intervene to end this sorry state of affairs in 2005. Enough talking, start acting. Give us all a reason to keep the UN around, Kofi.

Yassir Arafat
After all the assassination attempts during his lifetime, a bowl of soup seems to have done him in. Many questions surround his death and I, myself, am not fully convinced he died naturally. Sharon finally got his wish to be rid of him but will the Middle East be better off or worse without him? He was the symbol of Palestinian liberation and I hope that 2005 may bring the statehood he couldn't achieve within his lifetime.

What a way to end the year. Over 150,000 dead and missing and disease just starting to contribute to the death toll. To everyone who lost someone in this disaster, I offer my deepest condolences. To everone who contributed in the humanitarian effort, I extend my gratitude. To those who survived, I wish that this new year will find their suffering eased and that they find the courage and strength to surmount these overwhelming difficulties.

Just click the "Post Comment" button on the bottom of this blog to let me know which events from 2004 caught your attention.

Mmm, interesting post SeaWitch although my only critism is that you didn't devote enough lines to the fabulous Greek Euro 2004 team! LOL.
OK, so you the elections. To be honest, at the time I didn't think Karamanlis stood a chance after Simitis stood down and was replaced by Georgie. However I was proved wrong and PASOK (socialists) were voted out after 20 years and the ND (conservatives) voted in. Now I agree with your points about not much having changed but at the moment I'm still giving them the benefit of the doubt. PASOK sc**wed over Greece big style and the new ND government have to start trying to undo this. I've seen efforts made by ND to cut the amount of red tape people have to deal with. It will take time and hopefully 2005 will be when we see results of some sort.
Euro 2004, well what can I say that hasn't already been said? We rocked big time! :-)
Athens 2004, I was a volunteer at these games and I have memorys that'll stay with me for a lifetime. One of them is telling off some Canadian people for not singing when the national anthem of Canada was played!
Arafat, I was sad when he died. Mainly because I think he was portrayed by the west as the bad guy as apposed to the PM of Israel always being the better of the two. I felt so sorry for the Palastinian people as to most of them, he was all they knew. He was a symbol to a lot of people, and the man who would lead them towards an independant Palastine. Hopefully his dreams will still be acomplished.
Tsunami, well I like most people cannot think of words to describe the horror of what happened. I am however really impressed at the public's reaction to this tragedy and it has amazed me how many people are doing all they can to help fellow human beings. It's certainly raised my opinion of my fellow man. It's also made me a little nervous now as the media in Greece have been telling us how unprepared we are for a tsunami and how it could happen here. We've also got experts telling us that a big earthquake is heading our way in the next few years! Great way to cause panic! Well done!
But my thoughts are with all the people who suffered in 2004, may 2005 be the start of a better time for you.

Euro 2004 was also one of the memorable news storys of the year for me as well. Rooney!!!

Of course the Tsunami as well. I just wish the world would come together on this rather than competing to raise funds.

I look forward to reading your blog in 2005.

Greeks whining about Kenteris and Thanou.

Get over it Greece. They screwed up and just admit it and move on.

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