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Cypriot fire teams return home from Greece September 2, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Cyprus News, Greece News.
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Two Cypriot rescue teams returned from Greece yesterday after six days battling the devastating fires that have swept the country. A third rescue team was also set to return last night.

Evidently distraught, 22 volunteers finally returned home yesterday morning on board a Greek military aircraft. A further 25 members of the island’s Civil Aviation arrived later in the day, leaving four colleagues behind, who were joined by a new team of volunteers that flew out yesterday afternoon. More were expected back last night.

Speaking at the airport, the volunteers expressed their shock and sorrow at the destruction caused by the fires but also stated their satisfaction at the assistance they were able to offer. The head of the first mission, Christos Yiannaras, said he brought with him the good news that the fires in the area his team was working in had been extinguished. But he added that the general situation in Greece was “tragic”. One member of his team was slightly injured during the mission.

Another team member, Tasos Kyriakides, said the volunteers had “just responded to an invitation to help our Greek brothers”, while he spoke of the grief provoked by the charred remains of the country.

A team of 32 volunteers, along with 30 members of the Cyprus Fire Services, will leave early today for Tripoli, where they will continue their attempts to battle the fires.

Welcoming the volunteers yesterday afternoon, Interior Minister Christos Patsalides said this was a moment that belonged to them. “We are just here to say a big thank you,” the Minister told them. “To relay the entire Cypriot public’s gratitude, the government’s gratitude, for these people who went to help in these difficult times experience by Greece.”

The head of the mission, Chrisilios Chrisiliou, said his team was grateful for the opportunity to be able to help. “We are leaving deeply moved by the many experiences, many friendships with the locals and those affected, and I would like publicly to thank the government that gave us the opportunity to help, as well as the local Municipalities, Greece, the Greek Fire Services and the Cyprus Fire Services, with which we had excellent co-operation,” sad Chrisiliou.

Meanwhile, a specially formed Cabinet Committee yesterday announced the government would be sending a five-member team of technocrats to Artemida village, to estimate the extent of the damages caused by the fire. The Cyprus government has said it would rebuild the village as a sign of solidarity to Greece.

According to Minister Patsalides, the team, which will include mechanics, town-planning officials, architects and quantity surveyors, will depart for Artemida tomorrow. After estimating the costs, the team will inform the Greek authorities and then the Cabinet Committee, which will in turn prepare a starting plan for which steps need to be taken.

“It was decided that a five-member team of technocrats will be sent on Sunday with the aim of getting an initial view of the situation, investigating, estimating the damages in the area of Artemida village, so that the first studies can begin and with their return to Cyprus, the Cabinet Committee will meet to organise plans to reconstruct Artemida village and take measures,” said Patsalides. The cost of the damage will become clearer once the team has completed its work.

“The team’s first mission is to come into contact with the relevant co-ordinators on the Greek side, to visit the area, to estimate the extent of the damage, to estimate and list what exactly needs to be done to reconstruct the village,” he added.


Last of major wildfires in Greece under control September 2, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Greece News.
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The last spate of major wildfires in southern Greece, mostly centered in Arcadia prefecture of the Peloponnese, appeared to be under control or completely extinguished by Sunday morning, the fire brigade announced.

Fire brigade officials announced that no less than 36 separate wildfires were reported in the previous 24 hours, with only one blaze, on the Ionian island of Cephallonia, qualifying as a concern.

The devastating wildfire fronts near the Karytaina, Mt. Parnonas and the Megalopoli districts of the southern Peloponnese were out, officials said on Sunday.

The official death toll rose to at least 64 on Sunday following the death of an Evia man, who had been hospitalized since last week with burns from a wildfire in the region.

Meteorologists were hopeful that rain showers in northern Greece would move south overnight, ending any chance of charred areas reigniting.

Wildfires broke out in Greece on August 24, and have killed 64 people and leaving hundreds homeless since.

Cyprus starts pricing in both euros and pounds September 2, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Business & Economy, Cyprus News.
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Cyprus is well prepared to adopt the euro and will start setting prices in euros and pounds from 1st September, the island’s Finance Minister said.

“Double pricing will be applied accross the island,” Finance Minister Michalis Sarris told reporters.

Earlier in the year, the Cyprus government stepped up a campaign to ease fears of profiteering from the switch to the euro as consumer groups were getting complaints about higher prices before the January 1 changeover.

The eastern Mediterranean island is to adopt the euro next year, along with Malta. Surveys show that two-thirds of Cypriots worry about profiteering from the changeover.

Dual pricing in pounds and euros will be compulsory from September 1. Andreas Charalambous, senior economist at the Finance Ministry warned that “offenders can be fined with up to 100,000 pounds.”

The finance minister tried to sooth consumers’ unease over reportedly unjustified price increases recently. “Inflation is there whether a new currency is introduced or not,” Sarris said. “Cyprus is dependent on raw material and energy imports and therefore it would be unrealistic not to have inflation.”

Greeks say Thank you to the world September 2, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Greece News.
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Greece and the Greek people are grateful to all countries and nations who expressed their sympathy during our national tragedy and the loss of at least 64 compatriots during the wildfires spread all over our country, especially in the Peloponesse and Evia.

Greece and the Greek people are grateful to all who rushed in contributing into the Fire Victims Relief Funds.

Greece and the Greek people are grateful to all the countries which sent firemen, volunteers, fire-fighting airplanes and helicopters as well as fire trucks and other aid, helping us to battle with the wildfires.

A Thank You, coming from the deep of our heart, is the least we can say in appreciation.

I would personally like to say Thank You to all of you who contacted me directly, by email or other means. Your words and expressed feelings of sympathy to me and my country are cherised and I was deeply touched and moved. Thank you for showing me that humanity can still be found on this world.

May I also remind you to read this post and act > Help Greece, please help the fire victims

Citronne Gallery to donate Mark Hadjipateras show proceeds September 2, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Exhibitions Greece.
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The opening had been planned for August 25, but artist Mark Hadjipateras and Citronne Gallery Director Tatiana Spinari, the curator of the exhibition who is also a professor of art history, wondered whether to postpone the opening out of respect for the victims of the fire.

They decided to open the gallery, after all it was an art show, not a festival, but to turn over all proceeds to the fire victims and for reforestation. A large crowd gathered for the opening on the island of Poros, including art critics and artists. The exhibition, which is to run until September 23, is one in a series at the gallery that have included the artists Kokkinidis, Antonakos and Mina Papatheodorou-Valyraki.

Over the past two years, Citronne has become the art center of the Saronic Islands. It provides quality exhibitions, contributes to decentralization and gives the residents of Poros and its visitors a chance to appreciate art outside the major urban centers. Hadjipateras, whose work lies between painting, photography and sculpture, lived and worked in New York from 1982 and 2002. He has created site-specific installations at galleries and public spaces and has presented his work in over 90 group exhibitions and 20 individual ones in Greece, Europe and the USA. In 2000, he was commissioned to design the mosaics at the 28th street station on the Broadway line in New York.

For further information about the exhibition, call 22980 22401 or e-mail info@citronne.com

An unprecedented sense of deprivation September 2, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Greece News.
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Many of us feel an overwhelming sense of deprivation when we suddenly lose our mobile telephone, when our television breaks down, when our electricity supply is interrupted for a few hours, or when the registration plates of our car are stolen. And this is not even in extreme situations, as when someone lives in the middle of nowhere or is sick at home.

US scientists recently described the reactions of an entire family who, for the purposes of a special study, were deprived of their television for a few days. They observed that the family members hardly knew what to do with themselves and “were staggering around like headless chickens.”

angry_greeks_protest_over_fires.jpg  This aside, it is extremely difficult for us to imagine the feelings of those who lost their livestock, their trees and their homes in the recent fires that devastated the Peloponnese and Evia.

Earlier this week, state channel Net aired the views of a few residents of Fanari village, in Ileia, whose homes were ravaged by fire. And they described their plight, without complaints and self-pity, in simple, stark terms.

“Some 600 bales of hay were burnt, the animals survived, the stables were destroyed. But the female animals are nearly ready to give birth, I don’t know what to do,” one resident said.

Another remarked that the 3,000-euro emergency payment being issued by the state is “only enough for cigarettes.” “I paid 4,500 euros just for hay to feed my animals, what about all the other expenses?”

“Will you stay in the village?” the reporter asked him. “We will, we will stay here and struggle with hunger, poverty and misery,” he said.

All the residents interviewed agreed that, however much compensation they receive, they will have to borrow money as the fires have razed the fruits of several years’ efforts. “We already owe ATEbank and we will be obliged to borrow more as we have years of lost labor to make up for, we’ll be hostages to the banks for a lifetime,” one resident said.

It is difficult to believe that such people have a party political agenda or are playing for the cameras.

Of course, the loss of human life is the heaviest and most irrevocable but the smaller wounds can also be devastating for those who have always lived off the fruits of the earth.

The situation we are now witnessing, the devastation of agricultural land, has not been seen for some 150 years. The future for the burnt regions is unclear.

“What will you do with the 3,000 euros?” the reporter asks one of the citizens standing in line outside a bank in Pirgos. “I will spend it on animal fodder,” he said. “We should get ourselves some new trousers too guys!” a kindly faced old man chimed in.

EU peers step into the breach September 2, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Greece News.
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Greece’s European Union peers have stepped into the lingering crisis, dispatching aid in the form of firefighting aircraft, in fact, water-dropping planes sent by various European countries are still dousing areas of the Peloponnese.

Meanwhile, relief aid is also forthcoming from the other EU member states to help reconstruct and regenerate the devastated regions.

The generous response from European governments is the latest vindication of the prudence of the late statesman Constantine Karamanlis who pushed Greece’s membership into what was then the European Economic Community, or EEC.

Greece’s euroskeptics would do well to think again: A disaster of such magnitude would certainly have had a devastating effect on the national economy were it not for the EU aid packages.