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Athens News Agency: News in English, 09-08-24

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

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

CONTENTS

  • [01] PASOK on wildfire situation
  • [02] ATE Insurance reports improved H1 results
  • [03] Papiriga requests debate
  • [04] Gov't defends wildfire reaction
  • [05] Stocks end mixed on Mon.

  • [01] PASOK on wildfire situation

    Main opposition PASOK party spokesman George Papaconstantinou, referring to the wildfires that devastated north and northeast Athens over the weekend, expressed a hope on Monday that the blazes will be placed under control, while he stressed that it is not the time to seek causes and responsibilities.

    "We have exercised criticism in the past ... such as the criticism we have exercised over the mishaps of 2007, ones that have not become lessons, is also known. However, this discussion must not, and cannot, open now," he said.

    The spokesman further said that "we are also doing this today. We must stand by all those who are struggling: fire-fighters, security forces, volunteers, local administrations, the residents who are trying to protect the property that they have built..."

    Referring to the meeting chaired by PASOK leader George Papandreou earlier on Monday, Papaconstantinou announced that an evaluation of the situation was made, as well as a discussion on "managing the day after."

    "When the fires are extinguished we shall not only be able to discuss the responsibilities but what must be done from now on as well," Papaconstantinou added.

    Asked whether the causes of the wildfire were discussed during the meeting and whether he shares a view of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) regarding "organised arson", he said the details of the discussion will become known in the days to come and, regarding the second question, said that "I shall not enter talk of the discussion at the moment."

    [02] ATE Insurance reports improved H1 results

    ATE Insurance on Monday reported a significant increase in its consolidated results in the first half of 2009, compared with the corresponding period last year, despite a continuing crisis in the insurance market.

    Consolidated pre-tax profits totaled 8.8 million euros in the January-June period, from 1.8 million euros last year, while net after-tax profits jumped to 6.3 million euros, from 800,000 euros in 2008, and net pre-tax profits soared to 8.2 million euros from 1.3 million euros over the same period. Net after-tax profits jumped to 5.7 million euros from 300,000 euros in 2008.

    Premium production rose 11.6 pct to 111.3 million euros, from 99.8 million euros in the first half last year, while compensation paid to customers totaled 62 million euros, up 10.6 pct. Operating spending fell 23.9 pct to 19.3 million euros, while the company‚s investment portfolio‚s net position was 44.5 million euros in June 30 from 23.1 million euros in Dec. 31, 2008.

    [03] Papiriga requests debate

    Communist Party of Greece (KKE) leader Aleka Papariga, in a letter on Monday, called for an urgent Parliament session at the political leaders' level and a briefing by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis regarding the weekend's disastrous wildfires.

    Papariga characterised the ongoing period as "crucial and tragic", as a series of wildfires turned northeastern Attica into a "lunar landscape".

    Papariga called on the prime minister to brief Parliament on the prevailing situation, the reasons and measures that were implemented and what measures that must be undertaken to repair the massive damages.

    Synaspismos

    In a letter to the president of the republic, Coalition of the Left (Synaspismos) leader Alexis Tsipras called for the convening of the political party leaders' council under the chairmanship of the former to examine the wildfires issue.

    Tsipras said measures are needed to bind the current and future governments, while he referred to a series of law legalising the appropriation of forest land in the country as well as to the decades-old problem of illegal building and subsequent and periodic attempts at legalising buildings around the country.

    [04] Gov't defends wildfire reaction

    The government spokesman on Monday emphasised that the state apparatus and services were fully mobilised over the weekend to deal with the scores of wildfires that erupted in the country, especially against the multi-front and massive blaze that scorched northeastern Attica prefecture throughout Sunday.

    Spokesman Evangelos Antonaros, speaking at a regular press briefing, also deflected intense criticism by some quarters of the press over lack of coordination by fire-fighting forces.

    "Coordination of the state apparatus was well organised, from the beginning... with the mobilisation of all of our forces, the one was one: to effectively extinguish the wildfires and to limit the damages to our natural environment and properties of our fellow people. The priority was to avoid any loss of life," he stressed.

    Moreover, the spokesman said reforestation and anti-flood works will begin immediately.

    Asked whether there are indications of an organised plan to set fires intentionally, Antonaros declined to follow up, saying merely that what is now imperative is to put out the fires without any loss of life.

    In response to another press question referring to headlines in some Athens dailies bashing the government over an alleged lack of coordination, the spokesman underlined:

    "Neither I nor you are experts to cite, analyse and judge operational issues," he said, noting that an immediate fire brigade response came in the wake of the eruption, on Friday evening (20.40 GMT), of the devastating initial wildfire at the Sesi site. Antonaros said 14 fire engines and 42 fire-fighters were initially dispatched to the site, which is near the village of Grammatiko, northeast of Athens in Marathon municipality.

    He added that another 35 vehicles and 121 fire-fighters were also dispatched, along with 20 water carriers and 14 aircraft to battle the specific wildfire alone.

    In a related development, Environment and Town Planning Minister George Souflias reminded on Monday that legislation passed in November 2007 mandates the immediate demolition of any structure built on wildfire-ravaged land, with the owner disqualified from seeking judicial or administrative relief.

    [05] Stocks end mixed on Mon.

    Greek stocks ended mixed in the Athens Stock Exchange on Monday, with the composite index of the market rising 0.14 pct to end at 2,483.26 points. Turnover was an improved 225.1 million euros, of which 10.2 million euros were block trades.

    Most sectors moved lower, with the Insurance (3.77 pct), Media (3.05 pct), Chemicals (2.16 pct) and Food/Beverage (2.04 pct) suffering the heaviest percentage losses of the day, while Banks (1.04 pct), Oil (0.80 pct) and Utilities (0.48 pct) scored gains.

    The FTSE 20 index rose 0.40 pct, the FTSE 40 index ended 0.46 pct lower and the FTSE 80 index ended 0.50 pct down. Broadly, decliners led advancers by 133 to 82 with another 52 issues unchanged.


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