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Athens News Agency: News in English, 07-06-29

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

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

CONTENTS

  • [01] Parnitha fire a 'biblical disaster', Papandreou says
  • [02] SE Europe will be next 'economic miracle'

  • [01] Parnitha fire a 'biblical disaster', Papandreou says

    Visiting the charred slopes of Mount Parnitha on Friday, following the devastating fire that swept across the mountain and much of the Mount Parnitha National Park overnight, main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou spoke of a "biblical disaster" for which there was "justified outrage".

    Previously, he had been briefed on the extent of the damage by the mayor of Menidi, a west Athens district on Parnitha's slopes.

    "We must stand by all those who fought and are still fighting the fire - the forest fire-fighters and the local bodies - whose indignation we are hearing at the state's neglect," he said, while noting that this was not a time to talk about who was responsible but about the "major ecological disaster".

    At the same time, he underlined that responsibility for the disaster did exist and that those responsible would be made to pay.

    Papandreou was next due to visit the two other areas stricken by fire, Argalasti in Pelion and Agia in Larisa, where two people lost their lives as a result of the blaze on Thursday.

    The fire on Mount Parnitha - a national park that is home to several endemic species and one of the few remaining areas of forest near the Greek capital - began to the north in Dervenochoria on the mountain's western flank and then a second front caught fire further south.

    By Thursday night it had advanced to the top of the peaks surrounding Athens and ringed the capital's skyline, threatening the northwestern suburbs of Menidi and Thrakomakedones and forcing authorities to evacuate the Mont Parnes casino hotel.

    The fires came after a six-day heat wave with temperatures stuck above 40 degrees Celsius, reaching as high as 46C earlier in the week, which was the worst on record in the past 110 years. At least nine deaths as a result of heatstroke were reported, while hundreds were hospitalised, and there were also extensive power cuts as the country's electricity grid struggled to cope with demand and heat-induced damage.

    Fire brigade officials said many of the fires that raged across Greece on Thursday had been caused by explosions in electricity pylons due to the heat, though arson was being investigated in some cases.

    Caption: Athenians watch the huge fire burning the thick forest on Mount Parnitha, some 20 km away from Athens, on Friday, 29 June 2007. The Mont Parnes hotel casino on the peak and camping sites have been evacuated. ANA-MPA/SIMELA PANTZARTZI

    [02] SE Europe will be next 'economic miracle'

    The next economic miracle will be the economic integration of Southeastern Europe, Greece's national economy and finance minister George Alogoskoufis said Friday, during a presentation of the United Nations Development Programme's (UNDP) Black Sea Trade and Investment Promotion Programme (BSTIP) held at the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry (EBEA).

    Alogoskoufis said that the development of the region was of particularly importance for Greece, also, noting that Greece has contributed in that direction with its own extroversion, with Greek investments in the region having reached 15 billion euro and directly or indirectly creating 200,000 jobs.

    He said that a central axis of the economic model imposed by the global economy was the outwardness of the Greek economy, which the government is promoting.

    EBEA president Constantine Michalos noted the strong presence of Greek businesses in the wider region, adding that Greece was among the top investors in the Balkans.

    Greece, he elaborated, was the largest investor in Serbia and Albania, the second largest investor in Bulgaria, and the third largest investor in Romania, while it also had intense business activity on the Turkish market as well.

    Through the Programme, he added, emphasis would be placed on further activation of the Greek enterprises in the development of collaborations and exchanges of knowhow.

    The UNDP is the United Nations' most significant programme dealing with development issues, and focuses on actions in developing countries.

    The aim of the programme is to reduce poverty at global level, chiefly through the materialisation of "countries' development programmes" that cover a wide range of activities in developing countries.

    The programme's overall annual budget is 4.8 billion euro, and it is active in 166 countries.

    Greece was a recipient country up until 1986, receiving aid in the form of funding, knowhow, seminar organisation, etc., while in 1987 it became a donor country and has since them been contributing annually to the UNDP budget.

    On December 6, 2006, Greece, represented by Alogoskoufis, and the UNDP's regional director for Europe signed an agreement for the promotion of trade and investments in the Black Sea region (BSTIP), which provides for the co-financing by Greece, Turkey and the UNDP aimed at the development of the private sector and particularly the reinforcement of SMEs.


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