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Athens News Agency: News in English, 06-01-24

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

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

CONTENTS

  • [01] Cold front hits most of Greece, closing schools; traffic problems
  • [02] FM spokesman on upcoming Straw visit
  • [03] Greece committed to deficit reduction, FinMin says

  • [01] Cold front hits most of Greece, closing schools; traffic problems

    A harsh cold front accompanied by snow and freezing temperatures squarely hit most of mainland Greece on Tuesday, causing numerous traffic problems on the national and provincial highways, flight cancellations and keeping ferry boats in ports due to rough seas.

    The worsening weather conditions, delayed roughly 24 hours from initial forecasts, were the subject of an emergency session at the prime minister's office in the early afternoon, where Premier Costas Karamanlis chaired a meeting attended by half a dozen relevant ministers. On the political front vis-?-vis the weather front, PASOK leader George Papandreou criticised the government for danger-mongering, as he said, and aiding profiteering.

    Heavy snowfall in many parts of the country caused the cancellation of classes, while snow chains were ordered for vehicles throughout much of the country's road network. The lowest temperature was reported in the northeastern town of Nevrokopi, Drama prefecture, which registered -20 C in the early morning.

    Athens' Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport (AIA) and Thessaloniki's Macedonia Airport were operating normally, although travellers were advised to call for information about their flights due to the closure of destination airports both in Greece and abroad due to heavy snowfall.

    In western Macedonia temperatures plunged to -10C in Florina, -8C in Kozani and Kastoria, and -6C in Serres, while Thessaloniki was covered in more than 10 cm of snow early in the morning, with the temperature at -4C. Primary and secondary schools were closed in the region, but urban buses were running normally and Macedonia Airport was open to air traffic as usual.

    Other subzero temperatures were recorded early in the morning in the border Evros region, with -11C in Orestiada and -7C in Alexandroupoli, while several villages were snowed in. Primary and secondary schools, as well as minority schools, were closed by order of the Evros prefect, while the prefectural authorities also transported 11 kidney sufferers in the area to Alexandroupoli and is hosting them at hotels in the city.

    All levels of schools were also closed in Xanthi prefecture, while gale-force winds of up to 11-beaufort velocity made circulation difficult even for pedestrians, and heavy snowfall throughout the night required snow chains for all vehicles, although circulation along the provincial and national road network was normal, but slow.

    Schools in the greater Thessaloniki area were to remain closed on Wednesday as well.

    The rapid deterioration in weather conditions, by Greek standards, also resulted in a decision to close courts in most of the country on Wednesday.

    Gridlock was reported at the Tempi Valley bottleneck in north-central Greece of highway near the Malliakos Gulf, in Fthiotida prefecture, where a number of cars were stranded since Monday night when a truck veered off course and got stuck in a ditch. Snow-clearing machines and a strong police contingent were on the spot in an effort to normalise the situation.

    ANA photo

    [02] FM spokesman on upcoming Straw visit

    The foreign ministry's spokesman on Tuesday was again queried by reporters on British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw's scheduled contacts here Thursday, and especially if the visit comprises a new British initiative for the Cyprus issue.

    "Mr. Straw is coming to Athens as part of a working visit. This visit is not part of any special mission or initiative for the Cyprus issue, as one can clearly ascertain from the agenda of the talks, which will deal with bilateral issues, developments and prospects in the European Union, developments in SE Europe, the Cyprus issue and issues affecting the UN Security Council, where Greece participates," spokesman George Koumoutsakos said.

    (A file photo of spokesman George Koumoutsakos)

    [03] Greece committed to deficit reduction, FinMin says

    Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis on Tuesday reiterated the government's commitment to strictly adhere to 2006 budget provisions and to reduce the country's fiscal deficit below 3.0 percent of GDP by the end of the year.

    Speaking to reporters, after a meeting of ECOFIN ministers in Brussels, Alogoskoufis said the council did not conduct any particular discussion regarding Greece, adding that he briefed his counterparts in the EU-25 on government measures to promote reforms and to implement a stability and growth programme.

    The Greek minister told reporters he also had a brief meeting with EU Monetary Affairs Commissioner Joaquin Almnunia.

    He underlined that, according to his information, the Commission was positively evaluating fiscal efforts made by Greece in 2005 and 2006, adding that the EU's executive will evaluate a Greek stability and growth programme on Feb. 22, before approval is sought at an ECOFIN meeting in March.


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