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Athens News Agency: News in English, 07-07-12
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From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 Fires a 'consequence of climate change,' PM says; grief for fire-fighter deathsPrime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Thursday expressed his deep sorrow for the tragic deaths of three seasonal fire-fighters killed on Wednesday in the line of duty, while noting that the destructive fires of the current summer were a result of global warming.
"The weather phenomena this year favoured as never before the outbreak of destructive fires, peaking with that of Parnitha. We are already living with the consequences of climate change,? the prime minister said.
The prime minister made the statements while addressing a meeting of the full Cabinet that took place on Thursday.
Noting that the country would henceforth have to deal with with new conditions that demanded even greater alertness and efficiency, he underlined that Greece had no choice but to rise to the challenge.
?It is a difficult, uneven battle but we have only one choice: to constantly wage this battle with all our strength," he said.
The prime minister stressed that the government is rapidly carrying out all measures needed to restore the forest that was burnt. For Parnitha, especially, he said that the government, with Environment, Town Planning and Public Works Minister George Souflias as coordinator, ?is proceeding very rapidly with reforestation, so that wherever there was forest there will be forest again?.
Karamanlis also underlined that the government remained steadfast and unswerving in its commitment to initiate and complete reforms:
?This is the commitment we have undertaken toward the citizens; this is the demand of society and the central principle of our action,? he said, noting that much had already been achieved but much still remained to be done.
?We are in the midst of a hard and uphill journey. We continue with seriousness and responsibility,? the prime minister said, stressing that the government ?will allow no siren to deflect us from this path?.
?In reply to all those who have chosen to become the political representatives of reaction, conservatism, nihilism and denial we present the truth of our work, the effectiveness of our actions,? he emphasized.
At the same time, the prime minister also stressed the need to solve the day-to-day problems of ordinary people, in addition to looking at the big political picture, noting that the government was judged on these also.
Following the prime minister‚s address, Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis carried out a presentation of foreign policy, while other government members also addressed the meeting on this issue.
Caption: Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis (L) with Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis (R) during a meeting of the Greek cabinet to discuss foreign policy and justice issues on Thursday, 12 July 2007. ANA/MPA Maria Marogianni
 Croatian PM Ivo Sanander due in AthensCroatia‚s Prime Minister Ivo Sanader is due in Athens next Monday on a one-day working visit, during which he will be received by President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias and Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis at around midday.
During a press briefing on Sanader‚s upcoming visit at the Croatian Embassy in Athens on Thursday, Croatia‚s envoy Neven Madey emphasized that this was the fourth high-level meeting between the two sides since the start of this year, following visits to Croatia by Karamanlis in January, Papoulias in March and most recently by Greek Parliament President Anna Psarouda-Benaki in April.
According to Madey, this reflected the excellent level of Greek-Croatian relations and also a new quality in these relations, with Athens viewing Croatia more as a future new partner within the European Union and NATO.
He said that Dr. Sanader‚s visit on Monday would largely focus on bilateral relations and Croatia‚s bid to join EuroAtlantic structures, while he underlined the importance of Athens‚ support in this effort. Croatia hopes to make rapid progress in accession negotiations and finalise its EU accession in 2009, while it expects an invitation to join NATO in April next year.
The ambassador said Sanader‚s visit on Monday was also an important opportunity to confirm the strategic partnership between Greece and Croatia - including their support for the accession of other SE European countries to the EU and NATO, providing they met the necessary criteria - and would lead to further intense meetings at all levels.
Concerning the form that such a strategic partnership might take once Croatia joined the EU, Madey said that Athens and Zagreb both supported the EU prospects of countries in the region as a way of ensuring its stability and emphasized that Greece and Croatia were both very involved in discussions on regional cooperation, both through the South Eastern European Cooperation Process (SEECP) that is soon due to evolve into the Regional Cooperation Council under the leadership of Croatia‚s Deputy Foreign Minister Hido Biscevic and through the EU‚s Mediterranean bloc.
In the meantime, the Croatian side hopes that the good political relations with Athens will help boost rather less robust relations on an economic level, especially in establishing direct air and sea links between the two countries and in tourism.
Embassy staff noted jokingly that one of Croatia‚s first cities, on the island of Hvar, was first established as a Greek colony by the Aegean island of Paros roughly 2,500 years ago - and that maritime communications between the two countries at that time were possibly better than they are today.
Accompanying Sanader on his visit is a large delegation that includes the Croatian ministers for culture, economy and tourism and communications and a number of Croatian business people that are to attend a Greek-Croatian business forum next week.
Among items the Croatian side hopes to discuss are the prospects for strategic cooperation between their respective tourism industries that will further enhance the comparative advantages of each, with Croatia like Greece sporting a long and attractive Mediterranean coastline dotted with islands on the Adriatic, and possibly some new ship-building contracts for Croatia‚s extensive shipyard industry.
Bilateral trade between Greece and Croatia reached the US$ 123-million mark for 2006, with the balance of trade favoring the former, $89 million to $34 million.
Caption: ANA-MPA file photo of Croatian Prime Minister Ivo Sanader.
 Wildfire on Skiathos; funeral for dead firemenA forest fire that broke out at 7.30 am on Thursday on the central Aegean island of Skiathos has been placed under partial control by a strong firefighting force that rushed to the scene. The fire started out in the region of Panagia Kounistra and, fanned by the strong winds blowing in the region, burned its way to the village of Aghia Paraskevi threatening a number of houses. Two large hotels have been evacuated in the regions of Troulos and Aghia Paraskevi, with firemen making every possible effort to keep the blaze away from populated regions. A firefighting force of 28 firemen operating 7 fire engines and 17 firemen on foot participate in the firefighting effort, assisted by two helicopters and three firefighting aircraft from above. An additional 50-member force has been dispatched from Larisa, central Greece. Funeral of the firemen killed in Crete fire to be held at state's expense Public Order Minister Vyron Polydoras visited Iraklion on the island of Crete accompanied by Fire Brigade Commander Andreas Kois in the aftermath of the tragic deaths of three seasonal firemen who were burned alive and the serious injury of a fourth, who is hospitalized with serious burns fighting for his life. The public order minister visited the hospital where the injured fireman is being treated to be briefed by his attending doctors on his condition, and expressed his sympathy to his family. He also met with local authorities and visited the Iraklion Fire Brigade command to further assess the situation. The funerals of the three firemen, characterized as tragic heroes by the Fire Brigade, will be held on Thursday at the state's expense and all four families will have the state's full support. The tragic victims, members of a firefighting force that was combating a fire in a gorge in the region of Doxaro, near the city of Rethymno on the island of Crete on Wednesday, were trapped by the blaze after a sudden change in the wind direction.
Caption: ANA-MPA file photo of fire-fighters at work putting out a blaze.
 53 injured in Proastiakos railway accidentA total of 53 people were slightly injured Thursday morning when a Suburban (Proastiakos) Railway train rammed into a Hellenic Railways (OSE) cargo train engine car at Treis Gefyres.
According to early reports, the suburban train was heading to Piraeus when it suddenly came upon the cargo train engine car, which was heading towards Lamia, coming towards it on the same track. The driver was unable to halt the suburban train in time, and it rammed into the OSE engine car, but fortunately there was no derailment.
OSE was investigating the circumstances of the accident.
So far, 13 of the injured of the injured passengers have been taken to hospital, while others were still trapped inside the train.
According to later reports, the accident is most likely attributed to human error.
According to an OSE announcement: "At 7:30 a.m., at the 13+200 kilometric distance (Treis Gefyres area), the local cargo train 54304 carrying out the Rentis-Refineries route, collided head-on with a Proastiakos train (4003) carrying out the Nerantziotissa-Athens-Piraeus route. 53 people were lightly injured, and taken immediately to hospitals, which were placed on alert, for first aid. The causes of the accident will be immediately investigated by the relevant OSE committee. According to the first estimates, the incident is highly likely due to human error".
OSE further said that its relevant services were immediately mobilised to provide all possible assistance and care to the passengers, adding that all train routes were being carried out normally.
Caption: Emergency crews treat the injured beside the tracks following a collision between a Proastiakos suburban railway train seen in the distance and the engine of a freight train in the southwestern Athens suburb of Treis Gefyres on Thursday, 12 July 2007. ANA/MPA/Pantelis Saitas.
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