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Greek winemaker sworn in as Thessaloniki mayor

Veteran winemaker Yiannis Boutaris has been sworn in as mayor of the Greek city of Thessaloniki – the country’s first socialist-backed mayor in 24 years.

Boutaris assumed mayoral duties of Greece’s economically-troubled second-largest city on 1 January 2011.

The 69-year-old, a native of Thessaloniki, founded northern Greece’s Kir-Yianni winery in 1997 after leaving the family’s Boutari winery as a result of a split with his brother.

Boutaris was named a ‘European Hero’ by Time magazine in 2003 for his contributions to Greek society, establishing the Arcturos ecological organisation and later helping to found Greece’s Drasi political party.

Shortly after winning the mayoral election he announced plans to build a monument to Mustafa Kemal Atatürk’s Young Turks movement, a controversial initiative in a country accustomed to tensions with its eastern neighbour.

‘Despite the crisis we are strong and we have much to gain and very little to lose by opening up to the other people that surround us,’ Boutaris said, adding that he also intends to build a memorial to the city’s Jewish martyrs of World War 2, on the same square which gave birth to the Turkish Revolution.

Bouaris retains an interest in Kir-Yianni’s Naoussa and Amyndeo operations but has not been involved in its daily management since turning over responsibility to his elder son Stelios several years ago.

‘My guests at municipal functions might as well forget about enjoying Kir-Yianni,’ he joked.

Written by David Furer

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