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Athens News Agency: News in English, 07-07-25
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From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 Fires still raging unchecked throughout GreeceWildfires continued to rage across Greece on Wednesday, many of which have been burning unchecked for several days. These included a fire on the island of Hydra, famous for its traditional architecture and a former haunt of the jet set, and near Ancient Epidaurus in the northeast Peloponnese that have been burning since Tuesday afternoon.
The fire that began in a rubbish dump on Hydra was still burning by late on Wednesday afternoon, in spite of the efforts of two fire-fighting aircraft and two helicopters to put it out.
The General Secretariat for Civil Protection on Wednesday declared a state of emergency in the municipalities of Eleios-Pronnon on the island of Kefallonia and at the municipalities of Egio, Kalavryta, Sympolitia, Diakoptos and the community of Leontios in the prefecture of Achaia, in the Peloponnese.
Near the coastal town of Egio, a fire in the Kounina area was still blazing out of control on Wednesday afternoon and had reached the village of Pyrgaki, where a children's summer camp had earlier been evacuated. Eight people were also temporarily trapped within the Taxiarchon monastery, among them the head of Civil Protection for Western Greece Ioannis Loupis, but were later removed with safety by the fire brigade.
Authorities have also ordered the evacuation of the villages of Kounina, Melissia and Pteri, which are threatened by the fire, while at least one house in the area was reported to have burnt.
A strong fire-fighting force on the ground was deployed to tackle the fire, as well as two fire-fighting aircraft and one helicopter from the air, while additional reinforcements of 35 firement, 13 fire-engines and 15-strong fire-fighting force on foot are expected, as well as additional aircraft.
Another major fire was reported in progress on the Ionian island of Kefallonia, where houses had caught fire in the villages of Pastra and Aghios Georgios and several settlements were surrounded by flames, including the villages of Eleios, Kapitsa, Xenopoulos, Markopoulos and Kremydi, while all of Mount Ainos is being threatened.
The fire-fighting force is made up of two aircraft, two helicopters, 30 firemen and 10 fire-engines.
Five blazes were in progress in western and northwestern Greece, in the prefectures of Thesprotia and Ioannina, where a house and two stables in the Filiates region were caught fire and large expanses of olive trees were burned.
In Amarantos, in the northwestern prefecture of Ioannina, a wildfire continued its catastrophic course that began July 22. Local spa facilities and hotels were evacuated as a precaution . Fifty five firemen, 13 fire engines, 18 firemen on foot and a helicopter were taking part in the firefighting efforts. Two other fire fronts that reached the regions of Kotsika and Tsamanta from Albania have subsided but a third that passed into Greece from Albania is still in progress at Asimochori in Konitsa and has so far consumed 10 hectares of forest and open grass land.
Fires were also in progress at Palia Sagiada, Plesio, Asprokklisi and Korytiani in Thesprotia, while fires in Perdika, Thesprotia and Fanari in the prefecture of Preveza, western Greece were now under control.
The fire that broke out on Tuesday afternoon in a forest region in Velventos, in the northern Greek prefecture of Kozani, was also still in progress and had reached Katafygi on the Pierian mountains. Twenty fire engines, 60 firemen, 20 fire-fighters on foot and two helicopters were participating in the efforts to put out the fire, which were hampered by the existence of minefields.
A second fire also began in Kozani on Wednesday in an area of grassland and low vegetation at Imera in the Serbion municipality, which two fire-engines and eight firemen were attempting to put out.
Meanwhile, three fire fronts are in progress in Kotili, Kalivia-Katsara and Mt. Grammos in the prefecture of Kastoria, in northwest Greece.
Several fires were also underway in the Peloponnese, in addition to that at Ancient Epidaurus, including one at the village of Dimitropoulo, near the coastal town of Egio. Under partial control on Wednesday afternoon were fires at Avlona in the prefecture of Messinia and at the Hiliomodi ravine, Patima-Magoula and Mapsos in the prefecture of Corinth, while a fire in Mani, on the borders between the prefectures of Messinia and Laconia, another at the village of Polovitsa on Mount Taygetos in southern Greece and one at Chrysokelaria in Messinia were now under control.
More fires were reported in the region of Lake Plastira and in Farsala, central Greece.
Also, a small fire that broke out at dawn in Thessalonikiās Sheik Shu urban forest was quickly extinguished by 20 firemen with 7 fire engines. A fire that broke out at Kolymbari in the prefecture of Hania on the island of Crete on Wednesday morning was still not out, according to reports on Wednesday evening.
The fire in Hania had started in an illegal rubbish dump near the side of a provincial road and quickly blazed out of control, setting fire to nearby bushes and heading toward a region of olive groves.
Other wildfires were reported on the Aegean island of Chios in the regons of Potamia and Pipilounda in the Amani municipality, which was being tackled by 24 firemen, eight fire-engines, two fire-fighting aircraft and one helicopter, and one at the village Teichos in Drama, northern Greece.
Caption: Flames consume a pine tree in Kounina near Egio. The fire started in a region of pine forest near olive trees and vineyards and an inhabited area on Tuesday, 24 July 2007. ANA/MPA - Giota Korbaki.
 Bakoyannis meets new Cyprus counterpartForeign Minister Dora Bakoyannis on Wednesday met her new Cyprus counterpart Erato Kozakou-Markoullis, who is in Athens for her first trip abroad since becoming Cyprus' foreign minister. Markoullis was also received by President of the Hellenic Republic Karolos Papoulias.
During the meeting, the two women confirmed the strong ties between Greece and the Cyprus Republic and carried out an overview of pending issues that concern both countries.
In statements afterwards, Bakoyannis said they had reviewed the situation arising after the results of the recent general elections in Turkey.
Expanding on this, she said it was positive to begin with that a "stable government with a large democratic legitimisation" had emerged from the polls, while adding that this initial impression was borne up by the first statements made by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who had underlined Turkey's desire to remain steadfastly oriented toward joining Europe and carrying out the reforms that this required.
At the same time, she underlined that Greece would require "tangible examples and actions" on Ankara's part that confirmed this.
This would also apply to the Cyprus issue and the implementation of the agreement of July 8, 2006 for the process laid out by UN envoy for Cyprus Ibrahim Gambari, which was currently at a standstill because of obstacles and delays put up by the Turkish-Cypriot side, she said.
"This extends to the lack of response by [Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali] Talat to a recent invitation by the Cyprus President for a meeting with the Turkish-Cypriot leader, precisely to discuss a way out of the current unproductive standstill," she added.
The Greek minister said that her talks with Markoullis had covered Turkey's European course, with emphasis on those aspects that concerned its obligations as a candidate for EU accession to normalise its relations with the Cyprus Republic, which is an EU member-state.
They also confirmed the "standing and close cooperation and the coordination of Athens and Nicosia in the common effort, whose unchanging and strategic goal is to achieve a just, viable and functional solution for the reunification of Cyprus, in which both Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots will be able to enjoy the benefits of their membership of the European Union without the presence of occupation forces," she added.
Markoullis said the visit had been an opportunity to exchange views and discuss issues important for Greece, Cyprus and Europe in general. She also agreed that the result of the Turkish elections was encouraging, especially the fact that Erdogan's party had the largest majority in Parliament and had increased its percentage, which she said was a very important development in Turkey and for ensuring that it continued reforms and its EU accession progress.
"What will count, however, is to what extent the prime minister of Turkey will succeed in the difficult struggle to reduce the role of the armed forces in the overall political process in Turkey," she added.
With respect to the Cyprus issue, the Cypriot foreign minister noted the intransigency so far shown by the Turkish side, in which she said a leading role was played by the Turkish government and Turkey as a whole.
She expressed hope that Erdogan's re-election will give rise to "second thoughts and a more constructive stance by the Turkish government and the Turkish Cypriot leader, so that we will at last begin the Gambari process, which is the only process now on the table and which, if carried out as it should be carried out, will lead to the preparation of a new negotiating process that we hope will lead to a just solution of the Cyprus problem, based on the decisions of the United Nations, of European and international law and on the basis of a bizonal, bicommunal federation."
Caption: Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis (R) and Cypriot Foreign Minister Erato Kozakou-Markoullis make joint statements after their meeting in Athens on Wednesday, 25 July 2007. ANA-MPA/Pantelis Saitas.
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