jump to navigation

Greek PM tours burned areas, pledges to push regeneration September 24, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Greece News.
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Foreign investors considering tourism projects at Ancient Olympia, Kaiafas

Soldiers carried charred tree trunks across the burnt Hill of Cronus near Ancient Olympia on Saturday. Army personnel have been working with lumberjacks to build barriers on the site to protect it against flooding.

Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Saturday toured areas ravaged by last month’s deadly fires, reiterating pledges to speed up regeneration efforts and protect burned forest land from development.

Meanwhile, reports emerged that a group of international investors are planning to develop parts of the fire-razed Ileia prefecture for tourism ventures.

On a visit to Zacharo, one of the areas worst hit by the fires, Karamanlis assured residents that reconstruction works would be accelerated. “These people must stay on their land and continue to farm,” he said. “Wherever there was once forest, there will be forest again,” he added.

Yesterday, Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos also visited Zacharo, to attend the funeral of the town’s Deputy Mayor, 49-year-old Antonis Krespis, who died on Saturday of injuries sustained in last month’s fires. Krespis’ death brought to 67 the toll of last month’s blazes.

On Saturday Karamanlis also visited the site of Ancient Olympia, which sustained severe fire damage. Hours before his visit, firefighters battled to control a blaze near the village of Xirokambos. The Premier said works to restore the burned areas would be completed in time for the lighting of the Olympic torch for the Beijing Games next March.

Meanwhile, according to Kathimerini daily, foreign investors are planning to develop the region around Ancient Olympia and Lake Kaiafas, an EU-protected area ravaged in last month’s fires. The investors, a group of businessmen from Korea, the US, Japan and Cyprus, have reportedly invited the President of Ileia’s Business Chamber, Angelos Angelopoulos, to Seoul for talks this November. The group has allegedly offered $200,000 for local fire victims and budgeted $300,000 for a project that envisages a large marina for cruise ships at Lake Katakolo and a string of hotels. It is also believed to be planning a games complex near Ancient Olympia. Such initiatives would need the approval of the Tourism Ministry.

In a related development, hunting associations and wildlife protection groups have clashed following the failure of authorities to clarify the scope of a hunting ban in burnt areas. WWF Hellas is calling for a blanket ban on hunting in all prefectures affected by fires. Hunters say they should be allowed in zones adjacent to burnt areas.

%d bloggers like this: