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Athens News Agency: News in English, 07-07-29

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] PASOK committee discusses battle against fires
  • [02] Fires continue to wreak havoc
  • [03] Papoulias attends memorial service for Makarios

  • [01] PASOK committee discusses battle against fires

    The special committee set up by main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou to monitor developments at the fires that are currently ravaging the country met in Athens on Sunday afternoon.

    Headed by PASOK MP Evangelos Venizelos, it proposed a series of positions that should be adopted by PASOK and also specific initiatives that might be undertaken by PASOK's leader.

    The committee was one of two set up by Papandreou during the past week in response to the destructive fires and the ecological crisis that he says they have triggered.

    In addition to Venizelos, participants in the meeting included PASOK's Parliamentary Group secretary Dimitris Reppas, the party's press spokesman Petros Efthymiou, its head for justice and public order issues Alekos Papadopoulos and the head for public works and environment issues, Andreas Loverdos.

    Caption: ANA-MPA file photo of PASOK leader George Papandreou.

    [02] Fires continue to wreak havoc

    The destructive forest fires that have burned vast swathes of the Greek countryside during the past month, even claiming surviving pockets of forest and open land on the fringes of Greek cities, continued their destructive course on Sunday.

    A major fire broke out in the afternoon in a residential area of Stamata, just north of Athens in the prefecture of Attica, and is threatening a number of homes.

    A force of 45 firemen and 15 vehicles, assisted by four airplanes and one helicopter from the air, are trying to get the blaze under control.

    In central Greece, on the north flank of Mount Parnassus in the prefecture of Fthiotida, another fire began between the villages of Amfiklia and Tithorea just after 13:00 in an area of sparse fir forest under unexplained circumstances.

    The location is not easily accessible to fire-fighting forces on the ground, since there are no roads and it is about two-three hours away on foot, and is being combated mainly by two small fire-fighting aircraft parked at Lamia airport, which are unable to approach the area, however.

    They have also been joined by two helicopters that are trying to contain the intensity of the fire, which is moving relatively slowly because the trees are spread out and winds are light.

    The fire-fighting effort on several fronts in western and central Macedonia in northern Greece is continuing, some of which are continuing to burn after several days.

    A fire at Assiros in Thessaloniki was reported to be under partial control, with 25 firemen, nine fire-engines and a force of 12 men on foot battling the flames.

    Efforts were still underway by some 40 firemen, 16 vehicles and 32 men on foot to control a fire at Fteri in Pieria, which had spread from a blaze that started at Velventos in Kozani several days before.

    Elsewhere in the prefecture of Kozani, fires were also raging in the Servion municipality, though this was not a threat to inhabited areas and the fire-fighting force here consisted of 10 men assisted by one fire-engine.

    A fire in a hard-to-reach forest area of Velventos was reported to be subsiding after the efforts of a strong fire-fighting force consisting of 20 fire-engines and 120 firemen on foot.

    In the prefecture of Florina, the fire brigade is still trying to put out fires at the community of Krystallopigi near the areas of Barba-Sfika and Smardesi that was being tackled by 31 firemen using seven fire-engines. Both blazes are out of control and the ground force is expecting assistance from fire-fighting aircraft from the air.

    In the northwestern Greek prefecture of Kastoria, blazes at Kotyli are still alight and are being combated by 24 firemen with five fire-engines and two local authority fire-fighting vehicles, assisted by a force of nine soldiers and one helicopter.

    The fire on Mount Grammos is also continuing to incinerate forest at the position Goulios and is being combated by a force of 15 firemen, four fire-engines, two local authority vehicles, 18 soldiers, volunteers from the commando's club and one helicopter.

    Fires that are blazing strongly are also underway at Konitsa and in the prefecture of Thesprotia.

    Elsewhere fires appear to be subsiding but are not necessarily under control, including blazes in the prefectures of Kastoria, Grammos, Zakynthos, Achaia, Kozani, Kefallonia, Chios, Drama, Messinia, Kavala, Corinth, Viotia and Fthiotida.

    In Achaia, meanwhile, the fire department said that it had evidence pointing to two suspects for the fires that broke out at Mamousia and Kounina in the region surrounding the two of Egio, a 26-year-old man and a 77-year-old woman, who were being charged with deliberate arson.

    Russian reinforcements arrive at Elefsina

    The first of the Russian fire-fighting aircraft sent to assist in fighting the fires raging throughout the country arrived at Elefsina airport at 16:07 on Sunday. The aircraft are being sent as reinforcements, following an official request made by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

    The aircraft is an Be-200 amphibious jet that can take up to 12 tonnes of water and took off earlier today from Varna airport in Bulgaria.

    Also due in Elefsina after taking off from Bulgaria at 16:25 is the first MI-8 fire-fighting helicopter sent by Russia, which is expected to arrive in Elefsina at 21:00 on Sunday night.

    A second helicopter of the same type is being refuelled at this moment at Varna to continue its journey toward Elefsina, where it is expected to arrive late on Sunday night.

    Caption: The body of a burnt sheep found in the wake of a huge fire that swept over Ano Diakofto near Egio in the prefecture of Achaia last week, burning homes, livestock, agricultural crops and forest, on Friday 27 July 2007. ANA-MPA/ SYMELA PANTZARTZI.

    [03] Papoulias attends memorial service for Makarios

    NICOSIA (ANA-MPA - A. Viketos) President of the Hellenic Republic Karolos Papoulias on Sunday attended a memorial service marking the 30th anniversary since the death of Archbishop Makarios, who was Cyprus' first president, on August 3, 1977 at the St Kykkos Monastery where he was buried.

    The memorial service was also attended by Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos and the island republic's military and political leadership.

    A memorial tribute to Makarios was delivered by Kykkos Metropolitan Nikiforos, who noted that "if he had been allowed to live, at precisely that crucial moment, the course of things would have been different and Cyprus would be different today".

    Nikiforos also commented on Papoulias' presence at the memorial service, saying that it was "proof of Greece's continued interest in the tragedy and the struggle of Cyprus, on the final outcome of which depends the further course of the Nation".

    Following the service, Papoulias and Papadopoulos together visited and laid laurel wreaths at Makarios' grave, situated near the monastery.

    The two presidents also met in the evening after Papoulias arrived on Cyprus on Saturday for the three-day events commemorating Makarios.

    Answering reporters' questions, Papoulias said that "everything had been warm, friendly and patriotic".

    On Sunday afternoon, the Greek president is due to have successive meetings with the presidential candidates Dimitris Christofias and Ioannis Cassoulides, after which he will address a literary memorial to Archbishop Makarios where Greek Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos is to be the main speaker.

    In an exclusive interview with the Cypriot newspaper "O Fileleftheros" that was published on Sunday, meanwhile, Papoulias referred extensively to the Cyprus problem and stressed that relations between Greece and Turkey could never be fully normalised as long as this remained unsolved.

    "The wound of the Cyprus issue imparts its own special weight on Greek foreign policy also," Papoulias said, adding that the event was a decisive factor in ensuring the full alignment of Athens and Nicosia.

    Recounting his own experiences as foreign minister of Greece and his encounters with some 12 Turkish foreign ministers, he stressed the role of the military "deep state" in Turkey and said that this gave Turkey's foreign policy a remarkable continuity and consistency but did not necessarily make it free of mistakes.

    He also noted that the government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan now faced the challenge of freeing itself from being a hostage of this "deep state" and that the results of the latest general elections gave the Turkish premier the popular mandate to proceed down this path.

    "The rise of nationalism, however, as this was expressed with the return of the Nationalist Movement Party to Parliament is not a good omen. Also of exceptional importance is the presence of Kurdish MPs, because the Kurdish issue has taken on explosive dimensions. Time will tell, therefore, if the time has come for an internal revolution in Turkey," the Greek president added.

    Regarding the chances of such an "internal revolution" taking place, Papoulias merely pointed out that Turkey was at a turning point where it wanted to proceed on a path of European accession but, in order to achieve this, needed to "resolve its contradictions".

    "In a European country there cannot be a danger or threat of a coup. A European country is governed by those that the people have chosen," Papoulias stressed, adding that Turkey had a "long road ahead" before it became European.

    At other points in the interview, he also noted that the Greek Cypriots had a right to decide their future without being pressured and that the vast majority of them had rejected the Annan plan, while adding that a solution to the Cyprus issue be based on the the rules of international law and the resolutions of the UN Security Council.

    Caption: ANA-MPA file photograph of President of the Hellenic Republic Karolos Papoulias.

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