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Athens News Agency: News in English, 06-01-10

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Evros River subsides after flooding thousands of hectares
  • [02] Molyviatis meets Belgian counterpart
  • [03] Greek football teams in fixed odds betting games

  • [01] Evros River subsides after flooding thousands of hectares

    Thousands of hectares of farmland along the banks of the Evros River have been flooded before its waters started to subside below alert levels on Tuesday morning. Agricultural Development Minister Evangelos Basiakos pledged that farmers affected by the Evros floods will receive immediate compenstion within the next three months.

    Water levels dropped after the banks were artificially breached at Pythio on Monday and two sluice-gates were opened in the same region. Authorities are still on standby in case water levels start to rise again, however, while Evros Prefect Nikolaos Zabounidis has requested a meeting with his counterparts in Haskovo, Bulgaria and Edirne in Turkey to discuss the situation and civil protection measures.

    Flooding has been reported in 5,740 hectares spread out between Lavara, Kissario, Amorio, Tichero, Thymaria, Psathades in Didymotichos, Pythio, Trigono and other locations along the river shore.

    In Psathades, residents are also experiencing trouble with their supply of drinking water after a pumping station flooded. Water is now being brought in water tankers supplied by the municipality, fire brigade and the army.

    Macedonia-Thrace Minister Nikos Tsiartsionis has been visiting the flood-hit areas on Tuesday, accompanied by Eastern Macedonia-Thrace Region General Secretary Mihalis Angelopoulos.

    Later on Tuesday, Agricultural Development and Foods Minister Evangelos Basiakos pledged that farmers affected by the Evros floods will receive immediate compenstion within the next three months, both from the farmers' compensation fund ELGA and from the Emergency Needs Policy Planning (PSEA) funds.

    Government teams are continuing on-the-spot inspections of the problems caused, while the latest estimates are that some 5,000 hectares of cereals and other crops have been inundated.

    [02] Molyviatis meets Belgian counterpart

    Foreign Minister Petros Molyviatis met his Belgian counterpart Karel de Gucht in Athens on Tuesday for talks that covered the Cyprus issue, the future of the European Union and developments in the Balkans.

    De Gucht, who visited Cyprus on Monday, stressed that solving the Cyprus issue was important not just for the island but also for the European Union and the wider area.

    Concerning the ratification of the Ankara Protocol by Turkey, the Belgian foreign minister pointed out that the Protocol was "included in the agreement for the start of the accession negotiations" and that Turkey was obliged to comply with it.

    Molyviatis said that there were "clear time schedules" and repeated that Turkey had to fulfill its obligations, just like any other EU candidate-state.

    With regard to the future of the European Union, the Greek foreign minister stressed that the "time for contemplation" must at some point give way to energetic action and called for a resumption of the process for ratifying the European Constitutional Treaty.

    "Greece believes in a Europe that is united not just in its economy and currency but also politically and in defence," he stressed.

    De Gucht said that the agreement reached by EU leaders on the EU's fiscal prospects in 2007-2013 was a "positive message" and that, even if not ideal, it had overcome the fiscal impasse and created conditions from which all member-states could benefit.

    The ministers were also asked to comment on the handling of incidents of avian flu in neighbouring Turkey.

    De Gucht noted that Turkish authorities were cooperating fully with those of the EU, while Molyviatis said that both the European Union and Greece - as Turkey's neighbour - were fully apprised of the problem and had taken the necessary measures.

    Molyviatis also answered questions concerning Greece's candidacy for the OSCE presidency in 2009 or 2010, saying that Athens considered this a particularly important issue that it was promoting on a bilateral level.

    [03] Greek football teams in fixed odds betting games

    The economy ministry and the sports undersecretary's office on Tuesday jointly announced that Greek first division football teams will gradually be included in the state-run football pools organisation's (OPAP) popular fixed odds betting games "Pame Stihima" (Let's Bet) beginning in March.

    The exact date will be announced by OPAP's board of directors, a press release noted.

    The joint ministerial decision opening the way for Greek teams in the local fixed odds wagers awaits publication in the government gazette, the press release added.

    Regarding the closely watched "incompatibility clause", the decision prohibits a team owned by an individual holding more than a 1-percent share in the joint company managing the "Let's Bet" game from being included in it, a decision that directly affects Intracom group founder Socrates Kokkalis, the president of Olympiakos Piraeus, last season's champion and cup-winner.

    OPAP had repeatedly aired its displeasure in recent years over the fact that it was prevented from including Greek matches in its fixed odds betting pools, a ban that resulted in many Greek punters wagering with foreign multinational odds-makers, mostly via the Internet.

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