Millions Affected by Massive Blackout
Athens has experienced the worst blackout in more than a decade. The blackout hit Athens and southern Greece last Monday, leaving millions swelting in the midst of a heatwave . This blackout raises questions and concerns about whether the lights will go out again next month’s Olympics. The Government placed the blame on “mismanagement” of the electric grid.
The blackout shut down air-conditioners as the afternoon temperature soared to 104 degrees. The power failure created huge traffic jams from failed traffic lights and stalled trolleys. Many passengers on the Athens subway were forced to abandon the train and walk, while the fire department received hundreds of calls about people trapped in elevators. Government officials promise the grid network will be ready to handle the August 13-29 Olympics.
Ries Nominated as US Ambassador to Greece
Washington, DC Charles P. Ries, who has served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs since 2000, has been nominated to succeed Thomas Miller as the next U.S. Ambassador to Greece.
Appearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee June 16th, Ries spoke of the “important bilateral relationship (which) fits into the mosaic of our broader and vital transatlantic community of interests with our EU and NATO partners.”
Ries noted that in the first half of 2003, when Greece held the presidency of the European Union and he, as the State Department’s official chiefly responsibility for U.S. “troubled but never broken” relations with the EU, worked intensively with the Greek government to ensure that “sharp differences within the EU over the conflict in Iraq” did not undermine EU-U.S. cooperation. The EU-U.S. Summit at the White House in June 2003, led for the EU by Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis, was Ries said, “one of the most productive” of its kind.
Ries spoke of the “shared heritage and close ties: between Greece and the U.S., of the 1.2 million Americans of Greek heritage and of the more than 100,000 Americans who today make their homes in Greece.
Of top priority for the U.S. in the bilateral relationship, Ries said, is to continue to close cooperation with Greece in the war on terrorism. He would strive to further efforts to help Greece prevent terrorist incidents at the coming Olympics. Greece, he said, “is making a continuing contribution to the effort to deny havens, financing and supplies to international terrorist groups.”
Ries stressed that he would continue to support Greece’s active role in promoting security and stability in the Balkans, its advocacy of Turkey’s EU aspirations and its highly credible position as “the ancestral home of democracy reform in the vital region of the Middle East.
The Ambassador-designate referred also to Greece’s contribution of troops to Afghanistan’s stabilization and to the considerable room for growth in investment and trade relations between Greece and the U.S. In this regard, he noted Prime Minister Karamanalis’ pledge to improve the business climate of Greece.