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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 06-08-24

Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>

August 24, 2006

CONTENTS

  • [01] FM Dora Bakoyannis arrives in Beirut, meets Lebanese counterpart
  • [02] FM Bakoyannis meets Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas
  • [03] Tripartite meeting between Greek, Russian and Bulgarian leaders on September 4
  • [04] PM confers with Nat'l Education Council chief on reforms
  • [05] PASOK leader launches scathing attack on gov't
  • [06] Government sending team of ministers to fire-stricken Chalkidiki
  • [07] No risk for tourists in Chalkidiki, minister tells consuls in Thessaloniki
  • [08] Government earmarks €1.0 million for emergency fire relief in Macedonia
  • [09] Deputy foreign minister Kassimis to visit Australia next week
  • [10] Peace, anti-globalization groups announce rallies next month over Mideast issue
  • [11] PM hosts dinner for ND deputies
  • [12] Yennimata-Skandalidis meeting
  • [13] Main opposition tables draft bill for income-linked heating subsidy
  • [14] OA ground equipment handlers threaten strike
  • [15] Athens Bourse Close: Stocks flat
  • [16] Firefighters continue to battle blaze in Kassandra, volunteer reforestation campaign launched
  • [17] Forest fire will not affect tourism in Chalkidiki, hoteliers say
  • [18] Fires still raging in Laconia, Arcadia
  • [19] Returned artifacts from Getty Museum on display here next week
  • [20] Greek participation in 10th Venice International Architectural Biennale
  • [21] Joint initiative by Church, Dodecanese prefecture to host children from Lebanon
  • [22] Greece beats Brazil 91-80 in World Basketball Cup match
  • [23] President Papadopoulos opens overseas Cypriots' conference
  • [24] President hopes Turkish Cypriots will cooperate to prepare talks
  • [25] Cypriot FM Lillikas to attend EU FMs session on Lebanon

  • [01] FM Dora Bakoyannis arrives in Beirut, meets Lebanese counterpart

    BEIRUT, 24/8/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Greece's Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis arrived in war-ravaged Beirut on Wednesday, on the second day of a Middle East tour that includes stops in Cyprus, Jordan and Israel, and met her Lebanese counterpart Fawzi Salloukh.

    After their meeting, Salloukh warmly praised Greece's stance during Israel's attack against Lebanon, saying that Greece took decisions "that deserve credit" and had asked for a ceasefire as soon as the war began.

    "There would not be so many dead, or such great destruction of infrastructure, if it had been heard," he added.

    He asked for Greece to support the lifting of the blockade against Lebanon, the cessation of hostilities that are still continuing and to intercede with Israel so that it implemented UN Security Council resolution 1701.

    Bakoyannis expressed condolences for the many Lebanese civilians killed in the fighting and arranged to meet her Lebanese counterpart in Beirut again "in a new era of peace".

    In addition to Salloukh, the Greek foreign minister had successive meetings with Lebanese Parliament Speaker and leader of the Shiite party Nabih Berri, Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora and Beirut's Orthodox Metropolitan Ilias.

    Wrapping up her meetings in Beirut, Bakoyannis stressed that it had been a "particularly interesting visit from which a clear message emerged: that implementation of the Security Council resolution will be difficult but must take place in order for the necessary steps of progress to follow."

    She also expressed satisfaction that Greece's contribution both during the crisis and in the process for preserving the peace had been recognized.

    The first stop of Bakoyannis’ three-day tour of the Middle East, carried out in preparation for Greece's assumption of the rotating monthly UN Security Council presidency on September 1, was in Cyprus.

    Bakoyannis arrived in Nicosia on Tuesday afternoon and departed Wednesday morning for Lebanon, while her next stops are Jordan and Israel.

    She departed Beirut for Amman on Wednesday afternoon, where she is scheduled to meet with Jordanian officials as well as Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas, who is currently on a visit there.

    While in Cyprus, she noted that the country played an "exceptional, important and strategic role" in the recent Middle East crisis. She stressed the Cypriot people's humanitarian response and hospitality in responding to the needs that arose from the crisis in Lebanon, while highlighting the swift reaction of both Greece and Cyprus to the crisis and their contribution to the evacuation of local residents and foreign nationals fleeing the war zone.

    "Greece and Cyprus were and are present, responding to the sentiments of their peoples," Bakoyannis said, adding that her Middle East tour sought to "examine the situation at first-hand".

    During a working dinner hosted by Cyprus president Tassos Papadopoulos on Tuesday night, the two officials exchanged views on and reviewed developments in the Middle East, the Cyprus issue, and EU-Turkey relations, in view of the EU progress report for Turkey to be issued in October.

    Bakoyannis will seek to contribute to diplomatic efforts for the full implementation of UNSCR 1701 during her meetings with Middle East government officials and will also press for full respect of the fragile truce recently agreed, in order to allow the distribution of humanitarian aid.

    Other goals of the trip include the support and reinforcement of the Lebanese government, understanding Israel's security concerns, attempting to establish a permanent and lasting solution for the Palestinian problem, and promoting efforts for peace.

    [02] FM Bakoyannis meets Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas

    AMMAN, 24/8/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis, following her arrival in Amman on Wednesday afternoon, met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas who is currently on a visit to Jordan.

    In statements after their meeting, the Greek foreign minister referred to the long-time relations between Greece and the Palestinian Territories and to the talks she had with the Palestinian leader, during which Abbas emphasized his efforts to set up a new government and expressed his views on the crisis in Lebanon.

    "Greece is undertaking the presidency the UN Security Council next month and consequently, we are interested in these views as we wish to coordinate our efforts," said Bakoyannis. She further noted the European Union's steadfast position for active participation in the Palestinian issue.

    Bakoyannis was due on Wednesday evening to attend a dinner hosted by her Jordanian counterpart Abdelah Al-Khatib.

    On Thursday morning, Bakoyannis will be received by King Abdullah II and by Prime Minister Marouf Bakhit.

    [03] Tripartite meeting between Greek, Russian and Bulgarian leaders on September 4

    ATHENS, 24/8/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    A tripartite meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin, Bulgarian President Georgi Parvanov and Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis will be taking place in Athens on Monday September 4, according to an announcement by the Greek prime minister's press office on Wednesday.

    The meeting, according to the announcement, concerns cooperation between the three countries in the energy sector and, mainly, the implementation of the Burgas-Alexandroupoli pipeline construction project.

    The announcement added that bilateral meetings will also be held between the three leaders on bilateral and international issues.

    [04] PM confers with Nat'l Education Council chief on reforms

    ATHENS, 24/8/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Prime minister Costas Karamanlis on Wednesday met with National Council on Education president Thanos Veremis, with whom he discussed the reforms in the AEI (universities) being advanced by the government.

    Veremis told reporters after the meeting that he had sought the discussion with the prime minister in order to outline his views on the reform, and reiterated his position that the election of the university Rectors should be through 'universal vote', in other words with the participation of all the students and not only by their "political party-affiliated" representatives, as is presently the case.

    Veremis said that "those who have nothing to do with the parties, and chiefly the students who are attending the classes, come and protest, and they, too, must express themselves".

    He said that the prime minister is determined to proceed with the reform, but added that Karamanlis did not express his intentions with respect to the timing during their meeting.

    Veremis said that the prime minister agreed in principle with the education ministry's preliminary draft that was released earlier in the summer, adding that Karamanlis had not expressed any view on prospective changes, while he also passed off as "ridiculous" the calls for dialogue from a zero basis since "we have been discussing for two years".

    He further said that many people who did not belong, politically, to the ruling New Democracy party also desired and wanted the reforms to proceed.

    "Even if only half the reforms are advanced, it will be a gain," Veremis said.

    [05] PASOK leader launches scathing attack on gov't

    ATHENS, 24/8/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou launched a scathing attack on the government, during an address at a meeting of the coordinators of his party's parliamentary group on Wednesday.

    Papandreou opened his address saying that "our thoughts are with the thousands of our compatriots and foreign visitors living through a real tragedy due to the fires in Chalkidiki, Mani and Arcadia", adding that "the Greek family has suffered through a hot summer of high prices, and then the real fires came to prove that the Right-wing re-establishment of the State was the dissolution of the State".

    He said the ND government was incapable of guaranteeing the safety of the citizens, the common wealth and the ecological tradition and history of the country, whereas the preceding PASOK governments had also faced immense problems with the fires, but had proceed with a full reorganization of the Fire Brigade, the organization of firefighting, equipping the Brigade ahead of the Athens 2004 Olympic Games, and the acquisition of the biggest airborne firefighting fleet in Europe, "the biggest part of which, however, today remains riveted on the ground".

    He accused the government of slow reaction in confronting the fires, and called for responsibilities to be attributed, where they existed, for inadequacy, faulty estimation of the situation, delayed reaction, lack of coordination among the State services, unacceptable management of the airborne fleet, bad programming and maintenance of the aircraft, and lack of adequate dissemination of the aircraft.

    Papandreou charged that there were deficiencies in the Fire Brigade staff due to partisanship, the retirement of capable officials on party criteria, and promotions of unqualified 'political friends', and also criticized ministers of refusing to assume the responsibilities.

    The main opposition leader further accused Karamanlis of being "nowhere to be seen" because he was a prime minister who is afraid of difficulties, adding that the ecological destruction sent a message, in view of the planned revision of the Constitution, against the downgrading of the environment through amendment of the relevant Article.

    Papandreou further said that this summer has been exceptionally difficult for the Greek households, as many citizens were unable to go on summer holiday due to their financial situation, while those who were able to go on vacation were faced with the unprecedented inability and irresponsibility of the government in guaranteeing basic services such as transport to tourism destinations, and referred to what he called the unacceptable isolation, by sea, of many islands and even of Thessaloniki.

    He said the government had acted "like a burglar" in the middle of the summer, imposing new taxes on real estate, fuel and electricity rates, while it was at the same time unable to confer with the social agencies. "The Greek family is seeing a further reduction in its buying power, unprecedented high prices, and is facing an overborrowing that is bringing immense profits to the banks," Papandreou said.

    The PASOK leader called on his cadres to engage in systematic work and coordinated action so as to "win the confidence of the citizens, confront the tragic policies of ND, win the electoral battles we have ahead, so as to pave the way for a course of development with social cohesion, justice and solidarity".

    [06] Government sending team of ministers to fire-stricken Chalkidiki

    24/8/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    A team of ministers will be visiting fire-ravaged Kassandra, the first finger of the Chalkidiki peninsula in northern Greece, to meet with local officials and decide on measures to be taken in the wake of the disaster, government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos announced on Wednesday.

    Making up the government team are Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos, Tourism Minister Fani Palli-Petralia, Macedonia-Thrace Minister George Kalatzis, Deputy Agricultural Development Minister Alexandros Kontos, Deputy Health Minister Thanassis Yiannopoulos and Deputy Environment Minister Themistokles Xanthopoulos.

    Roussopoulos also repeated that state services had not been lax or lacking in coordination in their response to the fire, while congratulating fire-fighters and ordinary citizens that had assisted in the battle against the blaze.

    Regarding the country's fleet of fire-fighting aircraft, several of which were out of service for repairs and maintenance when the fire broke out, Roussopoulos confirmed that the public order ministry was concerned and had begun processes for renewal of the fleet.

    A similar government team will also be visiting the other major fire that broke out during the height of the heatwave in Lakonia, the spokesman added.

    As the fire raged on for the third consecutive day on Wednesday, firefighting efforts were now concentrated in an inaccessible forested area on the southwestern tip of Kassandra. The massive forest fire that broke out Monday afternoon has already devastated 40,000 stremma (10,000 acres) of virgin pine and fir forest and olive groves, while hundreds of firemen, backed by 75 fire engines, 20 water trucks and firefighting planes and helicopters continue to battle the flames.

    According to firefighters, one of the fronts extinguished on Tuesday, between the villages of Mola Kalyva and Aghia Paraskevi, was rekindled at about 3:00 a.m. Wednesday as wind velocity increased once again, leading to the evacuation of two hotels in the area for precautionary reasons.

    A strong land force succeeded in containing the fire, while four Canadair planes and two helicopters resumed water-dropping operations at the first light of day.

    The front, which extended an estimated three kilometers, was constantly changing direction due to the wind, hampering the firefighting effort, but Fire Department officials were optimistic that the fire would be substantially contained during the day if wind velocity did not increase further.

    [07] No risk for tourists in Chalkidiki, minister tells consuls in Thessaloniki

    24/8/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    There was no longer any risk to inhabited areas and tourists from the forest fires in Chalkidiki, Macedonia-Thrace Minister George Kalantzis told the consuls and ambassadors of countries whose citizens are holidaying in the area on Wednesday.

    Kalantzis held meetings with UK Ambassador to Athens Simon Gass and the consuls of the United States, Russia, France, Germany, the Ukraine, Serbia, Turkey, Bulgaria, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Cyprus, Romania and Albania, briefing them on the progress of fire-fighting efforts.

    He said that tourists could continue their stay in Kassandra without fear, because the fire department was able to intervene promptly when the fire rekindled in any location.

    The minister said that the government's top priority had been to protect human life during the crisis, by order of Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis. He also conveyed the prime minister's deepest condolences to the German government and the family of the unlucky German tourist that drowned while being taken off a beach threatened by the advancing fire.

    Kalantzis said that the state's swift mobilization and prompt evacuation of hotels, camps and houses had avoided further human casualties from the fire, which has destroyed 4,000 hectares of pine forest, farmland and livestock, as well as some buildings, since Monday.

    The minister said that local state services had orders to assist consular authorities in Thessaloniki in every way to better serve foreign tourists holidaying in the area.

    [08] Government earmarks €1.0 million for emergency fire relief in Macedonia

    24/8/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The finance ministry on Wednesday announced that it would release €1.0 million to the central Macedonia region to cover emergency relief for areas stricken by fire, such as the Halkidiki peninsula.

    The decision was signed by Deputy Finance Minister Christos Folias, following a meeting with Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis earlier the same day.

    Folias said the government would support the area's inhabitants and provide all additional funds needed to restore damage caused by the disaster, following consultation with the ministries and other bodies involved.

    [09] Deputy foreign minister Kassimis to visit Australia next week

    MELBOURNE, 24/8/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Greece' Deputy Foreign Minister Theodoros Kassimis is due to arrive in the Australian city of Melbourne on August 31 at the head of a ministry delegation.

    His official contacts will begin on Friday, when he is scheduled to meet the local archbishop, Melbourne's Lord Mayor Joe So and attend a dinner given in his honour by Greek-Australian MPs and senators at the Melbourne State Parliament.

    During the rest of his visit, Kassimis will visit Greek community schools and organizations, visit the National Centre of Greek Studies and Research and hold talks with representatives of the Greek-Australian community.

    [10] Peace, anti-globalization groups announce rallies next month over Mideast issue

    ATHENS, 24/8/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Local peace groups, anti-globalization activists and a representative of Muslim foreign nationals living in Greece on Wednesday held press conference announcing that they would join other like-minded groups around Europe for a weeklong series of events focusing on the Mideast crisis.

    In particular, the activists said the last week of September has been selected to "celebrate the victory of the Lebanese resistance and Hizbollah", while at the same time the mostly leftist peace groups said they will protest the dispatch of a UN peacekeeping force to southern Lebanon.

    Meanwhile, a delegation of activists from the "Stop the War" group, the "Genova Initiative 2001" and even a local labor leader, bank employees' union (OTOE) head Dimitris Tsoukalas, briefed reporters on damage they witnessed during a tour of southern Lebanon.

    A first rally comes on Thursday outside the foreign ministry in Athens to protest Greece’s participation in the UN force, while another demonstration was called for Sept. 30.

    [11] PM hosts dinner for ND deputies

    ATHENS, 24/8/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis hosted a dinner for ruling New Democracy (ND) party deputies at Nea Makri on Wednesday evening.

    Invited at the dinner were, in alphabetical order, the first 36 deputies of the party's Parliamentary Group.

    The prime minister's discussion with the deputies centered on the recent forest fires in the country and on the local government elections in October.

    Karamanlis wished Athens mayoral candidate Nikitas Kaklamanis, who attended the dinner, good luck in the local government elections.

    ND Parliamentary Group Secretary Apostolos Stavrou said that three more similar dinners will be held so that all the deputies of the party's Parliamentary Group can attend.

    [12] Yennimata-Skandalidis meeting

    ATHENS, 24/8/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Athens super-prefect Fofi Yennimata, in her capacity as the president of the association of prefectures (ENAE), on Wednesday met with Athens mayor candidate and former minister Costas Skandalidis.

    Yennimata, who is also an incumbent for the post, and Skandalidis are both backed by main opposition PASOK.

    [13] Main opposition tables draft bill for income-linked heating subsidy

    ATHENS, 24/8/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) on Wednesday tabled a draft bill introducing a heating subsidy for the unemployed and those on low pay and pensions in Parliament.

    The bill was actually tabled twice, one time with the signature of independent MP Yiannos Papantoniou who was ousted from the PASOK party for statements in conflict with party policy, and once without.

    Those proposing the bill say the heating benefit will counterbalance a sharp rise in heating costs due to rising oil prices in the coming winter, which will hit those on low incomes the hardest.

    They also point out that the state's revenue from taxation of oil has increased by hundreds of millions of euros. The size of the benefit is also linked to geographic area, with the country divided into three zones according to latitude.

    [14] OA ground equipment handlers threaten strike

    ATHENS, 24/8/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Transport ministry officials on Wednesday met with a delegation representing ground equipment handlers of national carrier Olympic Airways in a bid to find a compromise that would preclude an industrial action by the latter, especially in the ongoing tourism season.

    According to reports, ministry officials told union leaders that a specific plan will be unveiled by October to grant permanent status contract workers, the union’s primary demand.

    Conversely, trade unionists referred to a "deferral" of action merely to "ride out" the summer season. They also said of the 280 members of the specific sub-union, 85 enjoy permanent status.

    [15] Athens Bourse Close: Stocks flat

    ATHENS, 24/8/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The Athens share index closed at 3,929.29 points on Wednesday, showing a marginal drop of 0.01%. Turnover was 140.5 million euros.

    The FTSE/ASE-20 index for high capitalization shares ended 0.09% down; the FTSE/ASE-40 for medium cap stocks had marginal gains of 0.06%; and the FTSE/ASE-80 for small cap shares finished 0.23% up.

    Of stocks traded, advances led declines at 142 to 99 with 73 remaining unchanged.

    Stock Futures:

  • Most Active Contract (volume): National Bank (747)

  • Total derivatives market turnover: -

    Bond Market Close: 10-yr benchmark at 4.14%

  • Greek benchmark 10-year bond (exp. 20.7.2016): 4.14% yield

  • Most heavily traded paper: 10-year bond, expiring 20.7.2016 (1.5 bln euros)

  • Day's Total Market Turnover: 2.2 bln euros

    Foreign Exchange Rates: Thursday

    Reference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:

    U.S. dollar 1.291

    [16] Firefighters continue to battle blaze in Kassandra, volunteer reforestation campaign launched

    24/8/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Firefighting efforts in the Kassandra leg of Chalkidiki peninsula were being concentrated Wednesday in an inaccessible forested area on the southwestern tip of the peninsula's first leg, as a massive forest fire that broke out Monday afternoon blazed into its third day, having already devastated 40,000 stremma (10,000 acres) of virgin pine and fir forest and olive groves, while hundreds of firemen, backed by 75 fire engines, 20 water trucks and firefighting planes and helicopters continued to battle the flames.

    The fire continued to rage on 6-7 independent fronts on Tuesday night and, although the initially near-storm force winds of 6-7 beaufort velocity had abated, firefighting efforts continued to be hampered by thick smoke covering the region.

    According to firefighters, one of the fronts, between the villages of Mola Kalyva and Aghia Paraskevi, was rekindled at about 3:00 a.m. Wednesday as wind velocity increased once again, leading to the evacuation of two hotels in the area for precautionary reasons.

    A strong land force succeeded in containing the fire, while four Canadair planes and two helicopters resumed water-dropping operations at the first light of day.

    The front, which extended an estimated three kilometers, was constantly changing direction due to the wind, hampering the firefighting effort, but Fire Department officials were optimistic that the fire would be substantially contained during the day if wind velocity did not increase further.

    The situation was gradually improving in the eastern section of Kassandra, where the devastating fire broke out at 6:30 p.m. Monday. Kassandra forestry officials told ANA-MPA on Wednesday that more than 40,000 stremma of forest had burned, while damage and destruction to homes, tourism infrastructures and agricultural installations was also immense.

    There were also isolated fronts, in ravines and inaccessible areas, between the tourist towns of Kryopigi and Pefkohori, which were also being battled by land forces.

    Finally, in the southeastern section of Kassandra, electricity and water supply was being gradually restored, as local residents began taking account of the damages and losses.

    Kassandra municipality begins volunteer reforestation campaign: The municipality of Kassandra announced on Wednesday that it would be launching on Monday an informational and public awareness campaign for a volunteer reforestation drive for the Kassandra forest to begin in October, with the active support of the authorities and residents of Thessaloniki.

    An announcement said that, by order of Thessaloniki mayor Vassilis Papageorgopoulos, five information stands would be set up around the city centre to distribute informational material calling on residents to fill in applications for joining the Reforestation Volunteer Groups, while volunteers can also call 2310-251901 or stop by the city of Thessaloniki's stand at the 71st Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF) or visit the city's website to sign up for the volunteer reforestation program.

    The announcement said that the reforestation period will begin in October, in cooperation with the area's Forestry Authority, adding that the municipality of Thessaloniki, with thousands of city residents, will support the major effort for the rejuvenation of the Kassandra forest.

    Meanwhile, the Thessaloniki Prefecture said in a separate announcement that 18 water tank trucks and two vehicles of the Thessaloniki Water Board were dispatched by the prefecture to help fight the fire, while 8 coaches were also dispatched for transporting firefighters. Further, two bank accounts have been opened to collect aid for the fire-devastated residents of Kassandra: AgroBank account number 215-03-10000119 and Eurobank account number 0026-0138-90-0100607825.

    Macedonia-Thrace minister George Kalantzis, who was on-the-scene throughout Monday night coordinating the firefighting effort, stressed that the State's support would be immediate and tangible, adding that he intended to seek the establishment of a permanent base for firefighting helicopters for Northern Greece, with headquarters in Thessaloniki.

    [17] Forest fire will not affect tourism in Chalkidiki, hoteliers say

    24/8/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    A massive forest fire that broke out Monday afternoon and have already devastated 40,000 stremma (10,000 acres) of virgin pine and fir forest and olive groves in Chalkidiki will not affect tourism in the region, Gerasimos Bakoyiannis, president of the Association of Chalkidiki Hoteliers said on Wednesday.

    Speaking to ANA-MPA, Bakoyiannis said that "large tour operators said they would not cancel their holiday packages to Chalkidiki" and noted that the region expected new tourist groups to arrive normally from Monday.

    "We spoke with everyone," Dinos Tornedoukas, vice-president of the Association, told ANA-MPA. "Companies such as Tomson, Tui, Thomas Cook and Neckerman said they did not intend to cancel their holiday packages and reassured their clients over the quality of tourist services offered in Chalkidiki."

    Only two small hotels have been destroyed by the fire in the region, while none of the large hotel units have suffered any damages.

    [18] Fires still raging in Laconia, Arcadia

    ATHENS, 24/8/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    A fire in Lakonia prefecture was blazing for the fourth day on Wednesday, extending from Gythio to Areopolis, burning homes, farm cultivations and forest expanses.

    Some 220 firefighters, backed by 45 fire engines, four firefighting planes and a helicopter, were battling the blaze.

    Despite optimism earlier in the day that the fire would soon be brought under control, an increase in wind velocity was now hampering the firefighting effort.

    Civil Protection secretary general Panayotis Fourlas arrived at the fire front in the morning to help the Peloponnese Fire Brigade officials coordinate the operation.

    Meanwhile, another fire in a forested area near Chrysovitsi village in Arcadia prefecture has been contained, while a second fire in the area was still raging in a forested expanse on Mt. Mainalos. The Mainalos fire was being battled only by land forces, as all aerial forces were assisting the firefighting efforts in the two major fires blazing in Mani (Lakonia prefecture) and Kassandra (Chalkidiki peninsula).

    The mayors of Megalopolis and Trikolonon appealed to the relevant ministries on Wednesday that aerial means be dispatched immediately to help in the Mainalos fire, otherwise the mountain's famed fir forest was in immediate threat of destruction, while Arcadia Prefect Dimitris Constantopoulos reiterated the appeal in a telephone contact with interior minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos.

    Forest fire in Mani under control: The forest fire in the region of Mani in the prefecture of Laconia, southern Greece, was reported under control on Wednesday afternoon, with no new fronts appearing.

    Firefighting forces have received reinforcements, while the intensity of the wind has decreased and the situation appeared to be much brighter as the day progressed.

    A government delegation headed by Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos will be visiting the region ravaged by fire in Laconia on Thursday and a meeting will be held at the prefectural office, where measures to relieve fire sufferers will be announced.

    The forest fire in the region of Chrysovitsio in the prefecture of Arcadia, also in southern Greece, was likewise reported under control, following intensive efforts by firefighting aircraft, while the fire in Lykochia is still raging since strong winds are blowing in the region and firemen are being hampered by the rough terrain. According to initial estimates, about 250 acres of forest land have been ravaged by the blaze.

    [19] Returned artifacts from Getty Museum on display here next week

    ATHENS, 24/8/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Wednesday was briefed by Culture Minister George Voulgarakis over issues related to the ministry as well as scheduling for the 2007 summer season, namely, events at various ministry-funded performing arts festivals and cultural exhibitions.

    Voulgarakis also briefed the premier on the return of two noted ancient Greek artifacts by the Getty Museum, artifacts that will be displayed next week here in Athens.

    Additionally, a small portion of the Parthenon will be returned by the renowned University of Heidelberg (Germany) early next month.

    [20] Greek participation in 10th Venice International Architectural Biennale

    24/8/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    "The Aegean, an interspersed city", is the title of Greece's participation in the prestigious international Venice Architectural Biennale. The 10th International Architectural Exhibition, which takes place from September 10 to November 19 in Venice, Italy, features participants from 50 countries on four different continents. The 2006 Venice Architectural Biennale theme is "Cities: Architecture and Society".

    The central concept of the Greek participation is to present the Aegean as a city, the organizers of the Greek participation told a press conference on Wednesday, while culture minister George Voulgarakis said that this year's Greek exhibition aims to link the Greek sea with the Mediterranean civilization and the European dimension.

    The Greek display is curated by architects Katerina Kotzia, Elias Constantopoulos, Lois Papadopoulos and Korina Filoxenidou, and organized by the General Secretariat for Modern Culture's fine arts directorate.

    This year's Biennale focuses on the key factors facing large scale metropolitan areas around the world, from migration to mobility, from social integration to sustainable growth.

    The Greek pavilion, which will cover a 350 sq.m, expanses in the Giardini Gardens, where the exhibition will take place, attempts to convey sentiments of a traveler to the Aegean, while a platform Square with scattered luggage will give a sense of travel.

    [21] Joint initiative by Church, Dodecanese prefecture to host children from Lebanon

    24/8/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The Orthodox Bishopric of Rhodes and the large Dodecanese holiday island's prefectural government on Wednesday announced their intention to jointly host roughly 100 children from strife-plagued Lebanon.

    Dodecanese Prefect Yiannis Mahairidis, in fact, has addressed a letter to FM Dora Bakoyannis regarding the proposal, briefing the ministry on the joint imitative and requesting information regarding procedures for receiving and hosting children.

    [22] Greece beats Brazil 91-80 in World Basketball Cup match

    24/8/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Greece beat Brazil 91-80 in a World Basketball Cup Group C match played in Japan on Wednesday, winning its fourth consecutive game in the tournament. The 10-minute intervals had the following results: 16-28, 32-49, 51-67 and 80-91. Greece will play its last match in the group with Turkey at 13.30 on Thursday.

    In the other matches played for the same group, Lithuania beat Australia 78-57 and Turkey beat Qatar 76-69.

    Standings in Group C after four games played: Greece 8 points, Turkey 8, Lithuania 6, Australia 5, Brazil 5 and Qatar 4.

    [23] President Papadopoulos opens overseas Cypriots' conference

    NICOSIA, 24/8/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    President of the Republic Tassos Papadopoulos reaffirmed on Wednesday the Greek Cypriot side's commitment to a solution of a bizonal, bicommunal federation, pointing out that the status quo was not a solution and that only a just, functional and viable solution would reunite the country, the society, the institutions and the economy.

    Opening the three-day conference in Nicosia of the Central Boards of PSEKA (International Coordinating Committee Justice for Cyprus and POMAK (World Federation of Overseas Cypriots), President Papadopoulos said the government recognizes and appreciates the role of overseas Cypriots, who ''have never tired caring and fighting, in every corner of the world, for the restoration of justice in Cyprus.''

    He pointed out that ''it is difficult for disjointed and isolated efforts to bring about the sought after results'' and that it was of utmost importance to make collective efforts, methodically and united.

    Referring to the Cyprus problem, President Papadopoulos said a process was agreed on between himself and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat in the presence of UN Undersecretary for Political Affairs Ibrahim Gambari, on July 8, 2006, to prepare the ground for a Cyprus settlement.

    ''The agreement of July 8 reaffirms our commitment to the reunification of Cyprus on the basis of a bizonal, bicommunal federation, and clearly provides for the simultaneous and in parallel discussion, by technical committees and teams of experts, of issues concerning and affecting the day-to-day life of the people and issues of substance of the Cyprus problem,'' he said.

    President Papadopoulos added that since July 8, meetings have been held between the representatives of the leaders of the two communities, aimed at preparing discussions on issues of substance between the leaders.

    He noted that the implementation of the July 8 agreement also depends on the Turkish side, and assured that ''our side is working sincerely and responsibly to implement the agreement.''

    The president said he could not predict the developments and would refrain from expressing optimistic or pessimistic evaluations, adding that the Greek Cypriot side will do everything it can towards implementing the July 8 agreement.

    ''I once again reiterate our commitment to a solution of a bizonal, bicommunal federation. The status quo is not a solution. Neither, of course, is a fragile and frail settlement that will seemingly close the Cyprus problem, leaving it in reality in suspension. A functional and viable solution is only a political arrangement that will reunite the country, the society, the institutions and the economy, an arrangement that will guarantee the fundamental freedoms and human rights of the whole of our people, Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, and arrangement that will be based on UN principles and EU values,'' he said.

    President Papadopoulos said that ''we are entitled to such a solution, even with a 32-year delay'' and that ''the Cypriot people deserve to have a better future.''

    ''In our struggle for justice and vindication we have the steadfast solidarity and support of Greece, the Greek people and the whole of Hellenism. This constant solidarity and support is reaffirmed today with the presence of the president and members of the parliamentary delegation of the Greek parliament for overseas Hellenism, whom I warmly welcome,'' he added.

    The president noted that ''we have the assistance and support of overseas Greeks, all of you, who are called upon now to renew and strengthen your efforts, to move and become active, wherever you are, so that justice predominates in our hard done by country, this country, and our homeland.''

    [24] President hopes Turkish Cypriots will cooperate to prepare talks

    NICOSIA, 24/8/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos said on Wednesday that on the one hand there were difficulties in the process for a Cyprus settlement which began after the July 8, 2006 agreement but on the other hand the Greek Cypriot side hoped the Turkish Cypriot side would cooperate for the speedy commencement of work on a technical committee level, so that the procedure for political negotiations aimed at a solution would begin.

    ''Our position is clear. We are constructive. There are difficulties, but we hope the Turkish Cypriot side will cooperate for the speedy commencement of the work of the committees, which is necessary for the preparation of the political negotiations,'' he said in statements on the sidelines of the three-day conference in Nicosia of the Central Boards of PSEKA and POMAK.

    Asked if arrangements had been made for him to meet with Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat, President Papadopoulos said ''the July 8 agreement says that the leaders of the two communities will meet from time to time to monitor the work of the committees, to give instructions and to hold negotiations on the ground being prepared by the committees, when and as needed.''

    The president wondered what was more important, to have a meeting or to have a reason for a meeting.

    [25] Cypriot FM Lillikas to attend EU FMs session on Lebanon

    NICOSIA, 24/8/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    Cyprus Foreign Minister George Lillikas will travel to Brussels on Friday to represent Cyprus at the European Union Foreign Ministers' special session on Lebanon.

    The ministers' meeting, expected to be attended by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, will discuss possible troop contributions to the UN peacekeeping force in Lebanon.

    The Cypriot minister, who flies on Thursday to Beirut for talks with Lebanese leaders, will return home from Brussels early Saturday.


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