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Athens News Agency: News in English, 08-01-25

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] DEPA, Edison agreement for gas pipeline
  • [02] Ararat, 'Ark' beckon tourists

  • [01] DEPA, Edison agreement for gas pipeline

    A Greek and an Italian firm signed in Rome on Friday a letter of intent to establish ?Poseidon SA?, the parent company of the underwater section of a Greek-Italian gas pipeline that will transport natural gas from Azerbaijan to Greece and Italy.

    The agreement, between DEPA and Edison, was signed on the sidelines of a meeting between Italian Minister for Economic Development Pierluigi Bersani and Greek Development Minister Christos Folias, who is on an official visit to Rome.

    Speaking to reporters after the meeting, the Greek minister said DEPA and Edison will hold a 50 percent stake each in Poseidon SA and that the new company will be based in Athens.

    ?It is a first major step to begin all procedures for the implementation of an ambitious energy interconnection plan, to transport natural gas from Greece to Italy,? Folias said.

    The Greek-Italian pipeline project is an extension of the Greek-Turkish natural gas pipeline project that was inaugurated late last year.

    The Greek-Italian pipeline will have a ground section with a length of 590 km and a diameter of 42 inches, extending from Komotini to Igoumenitsa. The underwater section will have a length of 212 km and a diameter of 32 inches, linking Igoumenitsa with Otranto, Italy.

    The Greek minister said the project was part of a strategic plan by the Greek government to turn the country as an energy hub in southeastern Europe.

    Folias met with the management of ENEL, a partner of Public Power Corp. (PPC).

    [02] Ararat, 'Ark' beckon tourists

    Whereas Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis' milestone visit to Turkey late this week may have dominated much of the "weightier" news coming out of the closely watched EU candidate country, a distinctly overlooked press conference -- replete with Biblical connotations -- took place last week in a remote and snow-covered far-east corner of Turkey that nevertheless offered glimpses of modern Turkey's unrelenting desire for development and international recognition.

    Located on a dry, elevated plain towered over by imposing Mt. Ararat and Lesser Ararat, the dusty border town of Do─ubayazit played host to the off-beat press conference, where a disparate panel of Hong Kong media executives-cum-Christian evangelists, a handful of Turkish academics and scientists along with officials of the host province (A─ri) enthusiastically unveiled "material evidence" of the existence of the Biblical Noah's Ark.

    The "evidence", resembling a small bolder of a greyish colour, was reportedly tested by a Hong Kong lab and deemed to be petrified wood, according to the two men behind Hong Kong-based Noah Ark Ministries International, Media Evangelism Ltd. founder Andrew Yuen and HK documentary maker Yeung Wing-Cheung.

    Both men, who joined local mountain guides for a gruelling expedition atop Mt. Ararat last February, said the object was taken from an 11.5-metre-long chunk of the same material -- called a "large wooden structure" in press releases -- which was found in a cave located at roughly 4,000 metres atop Mt. Ararat. The fabled mountain dominates the landscape in the rugged triangle where the modern states of Turkey, Iran and Armenia converge -- geographically, but certainly not politically. A military presence is easily discernable in the area, as the town hosts a well-equipped army garrison and there are gendarmerie checkpoints on all roads in the province, although locals appear more-or-less unfazed by the activity.

    Promises to give samples of the "object" to researchers and labs around the world for independent testing, ahead of another "Noah's Ark" summit in Do─ubayazit in August, and access to the cave on the northwest side of the mount were uttered and repeated, as Yuen casually informed reporters that at least one piece of the material found in the cave will be returned to Hong Kong for display in a future "Noah's Ark theme park". He quickly clarified that "theme park" means a cultural and "inspirational" centre on a Hong Kong waterfront, with construction to come via local government funding and support by a major land developer in the former British colony.

    Asked to calculate the costs for his organisation's quest to find and prove that a wooden structure was still somewhere atop Turkey's highest peak, Yuen said "several hundreds of thousands of dollars" since 2004.

    For local residents, predominately ethnic Kurds, and central government-appointed officials, Ararat's potential as a draw for "Indiana Jones"-like pilgrims and adventurous tourists wishing to step-off the "beaten path" appeared incalculable. One of the leitmotifs stressed by the local and Hong Kong organisers of the conference was that all three major monotheistic faiths cite the story of Noah, the Flood and the Ark.

    The last time the area attracted international attention it was of a decidedly negative light, namely, a series of deaths in January 2006 attributed to the H5N1 virus during the height of the "Bird Flu" scare around the world. The Agri area also witnessed a major Turkish military operation in late 1994 against Kurdish insurgents, whereas the mountain and the surrounding lands at one time formed the medieval "Armenian heartland".

    A new three-star hotel in Do─ubayazit is testament to local hopes that venerated Ararat will again lure travellers to the remote A─ri and I─dir provinces by the thousands. The deep-pocketed Hong Kong Chinese executives also promised to build a museum in Do─ubayazit, a pronouncement that was met with applause in the cold auditorium where the presentation was held.

    "(The discovery) supports the thesis of the Ark resting on Ararat," was the way the city's governor, Cemalettin Demircio─lu, diplomatically opened the press conference, with a trio of out-of-town Turkish professors merely adding their belief that the Ark rests on Mt. Ararat, "but that more substantiated evidence (of its existence) is necessary".

    Indicative of the type of visitor local officials hope will help end the isolation of this under-developed and often turbulent part of the Near East, self-described "Ark researcher" Gerrit Aalten recounts several stories related to his repeated visits to the area and friendship with local people.

    Asked if he believes there are remains of a wooden ark atop Ararat, the Dutchman responds, "yes, definitely."

    - H. Tzanis

    Caption: A view of Ararat Mountain in the background, as pictured on Tuesday, 18 February 2003 from the Armenian side of the border with Turkey. ANA-MPA/EPA /ANATOLY MALTSEV

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