|Tuesday, 20 August 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 07-07-02
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Monday, 2 July 2007 Issue No: 2633
 Karamanlis adamant on restoration of burned forestland during Ioannina addressPrime minister Costas Karamanlis on Sunday underlined that his government will be absolute in the protection of fire-ravaged forestland in the country, speaking in the northwest city of Ioannina during a European People's Party (EPP) congress focusing on the environment and days after wildfires scorched many parts of the country.
"All of the forest land that was burned will automatically be designated as land for reforestation; wherever there was a forest it will be turned into a forest again, and I mean this," Karamanlis said during his address at the event and a New Democracy pre-congress.
"The wound that the fire on Mount Parnitha left is an injury to our soul. We are obliged to work so that the damage is repaired, because the environment is a debt we owe to our children," he said in reference to the particularly devastating fire atop Mount Parnitha earlier in the week, an area that hosts one of the few remaining forests in the greater Athens area.
In a reference to one of the issues raised at the congress, namely, climate change, Karamanlis noted that apparent changes in the earth's climate became obvious in Greece over the past few days, as he cited a blistering heatwave, burned forestland, air pollution and pollution of aquifers.
"The struggle for the environment is the major challenge of our generation," Karamanlis said, citing the complexity of the problems involved and the often competing involvement of national and international organisations.
In reference to Greece, Karamanlis said that since 2004 another 10 areas of the country have been designated as "protected", while a national zoning plan is being developed along with an increase in "green energy".
Touching on a decades-old "exception" that has stunted sustained growth in the east Mediterranean country for generations, namely, lack of an operational land registry, the prime minister said the nationwide project is being promoted by his government with faster rates, as 90 land registry offices now operate in Greece, up from 22 in 2004.
Finally, the prime minister said his government has raised the absorption rate of EU funds for the environment from 14 percent in 2004 to 52 percent at present, whereas 4.3 billion euros have been earmarked from the 4th CSF for the environment.
 Martens: EPP to unveil text on climate changeClimate change and initiatives developed by the European People's Party (EPP) grouping to deal with the global phenomenon was the subject of EPP President Wilfried Martens during a ruling New Democracy pre-congress meeting in the northwest city of Ioannina on Sunday.
The venue also served for an EPP congress session focusing on climate change.
According to Martens, the EPP grouping has recognised the grave dangers associated with climate change, calling it the most significant challenged faced by the current generation.
Moreover, he said the EPP, in association with national governments, will unveil a text in early 2008 offering a "realistic and comprehensive" plan to deal with climate change.
"Our goal is to combine economic dictates with ecology", he said, while referring to EU Commissioner Stavros Dimas' "impressive text" last Friday, which serves as a "Green Paper" on climate change.
The veteran Belgian politician and prime minister also said ruling New Democracy party's place Greece amongst the group of countries playing a leading role on the complex issue, while he expressed confidence that ND and Costas Karamanlis will again be voted into power by the Greek people in the upcoming elections.
 Papoulias calls for nat'l action plan to protect environment in GreecePresident of the Republic Karolos Papoulias on Sunday referred to "days of national mourning" in relation to the rash of forest fires in the country last week, the worst of which devastated the Parnitha national park just north of Athens.
"The massive environmental destruction that has shaken Greek public opinion may be the last warning we have that we're proceeding down a wrong path. This is not a time for words; it is a time for silence and contemplation. And the next day, when we've counted our wounds, which will heal after a century, will be a day of decision," Papoulias said from the northern town of Drama.
Papoulias was on hand in the area to observe events commemorating the 94th anniversary of the Drama district's liberation by Greek forces.
Among others, Papoulias reiterated his call for a national action plan to protect the environment, with the participation of all parties, organisations and the society of citizens.
 Souflias promises financial backing for reforestation of Parnitha; derides PASOK claims over Egnatia motorwayOne of the government's top ministers on Sunday emphasised that his ministry will do "everything possible" to prevent even the smallest portion of burned forestland from being taken over by squatters and land grabbers.
Town Planning, Public Works and Environment Minister George Souflias, speaking in Ioannina during a ruling New Democracy (ND) pre-congress on the environment, stressed that his ministry will also funnel all necessary funds towards the state agency managing the fire-ravaged Parnitha national park, north of Athens.
Turning to the domestic political scene, Souflias emphasised that a ND democracy since 2004 has tendered more public works projects than PASOK did over 20 years.
Moreover, he charged that PASOK cadres were deliberately making misleading statements about the portions of the Egnatia motorway completed under a previous PASOK government, as opposed to the progress recorded since 2004, with Souflias saying only 389 kilometres out of the total 947 of the Egnatia were completed by 2004.
 Papandreou rules out cooperation with NDMain opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou has unveiled a "100-day programme" for a future PASOK government, in statements during an interview published in the Sunday edition of an Athens daily, where he is also quoted as ruling out any post-election cooperation with ruling New Democracy should neither major party achieve Parliamentary dominance.
Among others, Papandreou referred to the creation of a new environment ministry, more state outlays for lower-income classes, changes in the tax code, commencement of a "social dialogue" for changes in education and for social security reforms.
Asked about the possibility of post-election cooperation with ND to form a government in case neither party has enough
Parliament strength to form a strong government, Papandreou categorically ruled out such an option, saying merely that PASOK will be victorious in the next election.
In reference to the recent rash of forest fires in the country, Papandreou charged that the prime minister, personally, and his government have been unable to deal with any crisis in the country over the past four years.
Finally, Papandreou called corruption a "structural problem" in the country, while dismissing the term "guilty past" for PASOK, saying instead that omissions and mistakes were on an individual basis and not the product of an entire political faction.
Papandreou's interview was published in the Sunday edition of "Kathimerini".
 Employment minister on social security issueEmployment and Social Protection Minister Vassilis Magginas, asked to comment on the "opening of the social security issue" by the PASOK party, as that was announced in an interview given on Sunday to the newspaper "Kathimerini" by PASOK leader George Papandreou, said that "the last problem that Mr. Papandreou should have touched on when, hypothetically, he refers to his future government role, is the social security issue."
Magginas further said that "he has evidently forgot that if the Souflias-Sioufas laws did not exist, of the 1990-1992 period, the entire system would have collapsed completely years ago."
The minister went on to say "what dialogue, in any case, is the president of PASOK speaking of? Of the one which, when he is not avoiding it, he is systematically undermining?"
 PM chairs third meeting in a row to deal with wildfiresPrime Minister Costas Karamanlis chaired an emergency Inner Cabinet meeting on Saturday, the third in as many days, to deal with the barrage of wildfires in the country, as well as to assess the damage from the conflagration atop Mt. Parnitha, one of the greater Athens area's last remaining natural preserves.
Among others, the public order minister said the Parnitha front has been contained, as have another three or four serious forest fires elsewhere in the country, including forest fires in the Pelion region, central Greece, and the deadly wildfire in the nearby Agia district, which claimed the life of two local residents.
According to reports after the meeting, the agriculture development ministry will be assigned the reforestation plans for the Parnitha national park, while Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos said a previous model used for the Halkidiki prefecture of northern Greece will be followed.
Authorities will remain on high alert over the weekend in case of new wildfires or a rekindling of other.
 KKE leader calls for expanded reforestation, zero tolerance for illegal buildingCommunist Party of Greece (KKE) general secretary Aleka Papariga on Saturday demanded that not a "square metre" of land be built in the fire-ravaged Parnitha national park, north of Athens, while she also called for the natural preserve to be expanded.
Papariga made the statements touring a tour of the devastated forestland, one of the greater Athens area's few remaining mountainous greenspaces, part of a bid to prevent the ubiquitous, in Greece, land grabbing and illegal building that has often occurred over the past decades following wildfires.
"Beyond the historical crimes and responsibilities for this situation in Greece, with the destruction of forest lands and the environment, on this day and in the phase we are now in, KKE is interested in is not just general proclamation about what areas will be reforested but in expanding the natural park all the way to the Tatoi region," she said, adding that by her estimates 50 percent of the Parnitha national park has been left in ashes.
 Alavanos points to responsibilities over lack of forest protection, conservationCoalition of the Left (Synaspismos) leader Alekos Alavanos on Saturday joined an ongoing chorus of disapproval in the east Mediterranean country over the devastating wildfire atop the Mount Parnitha national park this past week, in comments to his party's central political committee.
Among others, Alavanos charged that absorption of Cohesion Fund monies during 2006-2007 for forest conservation and protection was nil, while adding that both major parties, ruling New Democracy and main opposition PASOK, have failed to grasp the enormity of the "green house effect" on the earth's climate.
Additionally, he called on his party's cadres to volunteer for forest protection, fire-fighting assistance and detection.
Finally, as a symbolic act of mourning for the Parnitha conflagration, Alavanos said black flags will be hoisted at various Synaspismos offices in the greater Athens area this week.
 Coalition party leader visits 'Robin Hood' fire protection outpostCoalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (Synaspismos) party leader Alekos Alavanos visited the "Robin Hood" volunteer fire protection outpost in the Athens district of Pendeli on Sunday.
"We are here to stress the importance of prevention," Alavanos said, adding that it is important and essential for all prevention apparatuses to have support by the state.
"Firstly, in local administration. It is characteristic that in Nea Penteli there are 80 volunteers. There is a monitoring apparatus of professional quality, but there is no corresponding support," he further said.
Alavanos pointed out that it is a shame because out of 25 million euros anticipated by the 3rd Community Support Framework (CSF) for forest protection from 2000 until today, we have not absorbed even one euro. Three years of governance by PASOK and another three years of governance by ND and we haven't absorbed even one euro."
 Wildfires on Parnitha, Pilio recedingThe wildfire on Mount Parnitha is receding, according to the fire brigade, but it has not yet been placed under full control, and so is the wildfire on Pilio.
The fire at Milies on Pilio is under partial control, but the fronts at Neohori and Kalamaki are still under way. The fire is being tackled by 102 firemen and 44 vehicles, as well as by 100 troops and a helicopter.
 ND given 1-point lead in latest pollRuling New Democracy (ND) party was given a 1-percentage point lead over main opposition PASOK in the most recent opinion poll to be published over the weekend, 36.1 percent to 35.1 percent for the latter.
The Communist Party (KKE) was preferred by 7.6 percent of respondents, while the out-of-Parliament LA.OS party garnered 4.3 percent and the Coalition of the Left (Synaspismos) 4.2 percent. Undecideds accounted for 9.2 percent of respondents in the poll.
Asked who they believe will win the next elections, 60.1 percent said ND; 25.5 percent picked PASOK.
Additionally, Premier Costas Karamanlis was judged as more suitable for prime minister by 44.5 percent of respondents to 34.6 percent for PASOK leader George Papandreou.
Finally, 49.4 percent of respondents want elections in March 2004 - when they are normally scheduled - while 42.7 percent picked fall 2007.
The opinion poll was conducted by the Kapa Research firm and published by the newspaper "Vima".
It was conducted between June 20 and June 26 on a sample of 3,260 households via personal interviews.
 Patriarch receives Orfanos at FanarEcumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos on Sunday received visiting Greek Sports Deputy Minister George Orfanos, as the latter arrived here following an official invitation by his Turkish counterpart Mehmet Ali Sahin.
Orfanos will subsequently travel to Trabzon between July 2 through July 7 for the first-ever Black Sea Games.
Orfanos also attended a church service in the Bosporus metropolis before he and his delegation were received by Vartholomeos.
The Greek deputy minister will participate in a conference of sports ministers of Black Sea region countries on the sidelines of the games.
 Volunteer fireman dies during fire in HalandriA volunteer fireman of the Nea Penteli Volunteer Group participating in efforts to extinguish a fire in the Athens district of Halandri on Sunday was taken to an Athens hospital at 7:30 in the evening, after fainting, and was pronounced dead on arrival.
According to the fire brigade, a fire broke put on a limited scale in the yard of a handicraft industry, burning wood shavings, and firemen arrived at the scene to put it out.
A vehicle from the Nea Penteli Volunteer Group also arrived to help firemen, but while they were quenching the flames one of the volunteers fainted. He was rushed to hospital in an ambulance, but he was already dead.
 New museum inaugurated on RhodesA new museum of culture was inaugurated on Sunday in the historic municipality of Kallithea on the island of Rhodes, one of the most popular tourist areas on the Dodecanese isle.
The ceremony for the new nine-million-euro museum was attended by Tourism Development Minister Fani Palli-Petralia, MPs elected from the area, local officials and Deputy FM Yiannis Valinakis.
 Unprecedented exhibition of artist André Masson's works on AndrosAn exhibition of 85 works of noted 20th century French painter André Masson opened at the Goulandris Foundation's Modern Art Museum on the northern Cyclades island of Andros on Saturday evening, entitled "André Masson and Ancient Greece".
The exhibited works included oil canvasses, sketches, scale models and theatrical props and sculptures, all on loan from various museums around the world, private collections and the Masson family's collection.
One of the dominant themes revolves around the myths of the Labyrinth and the Minotaur, at the centre of much of the artist's works in the late 19030s.
The exhibition will last until Sept. 30.
 Fair on MondayFair weather is expected on Monday, as well as very strong northerly winds in the Aegean. Winds northeasterly moderate. Temperatures in Athens ranging between 23C and 32C and in Thessaloniki from 19C to 31C.
 The Sunday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Nation in mourning over fire-ravaged Mount Parnitha as prosecutors seek out guilty parties"
APOGEVMATINI: "Government seeks to buy giant fire-fighting from Russia"
AVGHI: "A major crime was committed here", a reference to the Parnitha forest fire
AVRIANI: "PM's office on high alert due to forest fires, opinion polls"
CHORA: "Prosecutors investigating rash of recent forest fires"
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Fires bringing comprehensive changes"
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Let the trees vote. Environmental destruction turning into major political issue"
EPOCHI: "The guilty parties have a name"
ETHNOS: "Greater Athens area turning into a gas chamber repercussion from Parnitha fires"
KATHIMERINI: "(Main opposition PASOK leader) George Papandreou: I will not jointly govern with New Democracy. PASOK leader refers to five measures he'll take as premier in first 100 days in office"
LOGOS: "Government worried over repercussions to its profile"
NIKI: "A high-risk government"
PARON: "They bit their tongue with the overt provocation by (Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah) Gul claiming that the Turks have 'rights' in the Aegean. (PM Costas) made a mistake in not cancelling his trip to Turkey"
PROTO THEMA: "They (government) appointed the daughters of four 'untouchables',"
RIZOSPASTIS: "Destruction of forestlands a continuing crime against the people"
VIMA: "Flames reached the prime minister's office"
VRADYNI: "Thousands of homes to eligible people"
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