Mountain vies for EU beauty title

Most known in Greece as one of the bloodiest battlefields of the 1946-49 Civil War, northern Mount Grammos is vying with the more serene Danube River for the title of the most beautiful nature spot in Europe. At stake, apart from national pride, is extensive promotion, tourism and European Union funding. The EU-sponsored «Landscape of the Year» contest, which is organized by the International Friends of Nature group, pits the Greek mountain against the central European river for the 2007-2008 title. The final selection will be made in Munich in October. During a first selection process among eight candidates, the two areas received an equal number of votes cast by the heads of 40 European nature societies. According to Makis Stavrou, head of the Greek society Group of Friends of Mountains and the Sea, Grammos has a good chance of winning. «Two of its peaks are listed in the EU Natura program, while there is the brown bear population, a great variety of flora and fauna, the Prespes Lakes and a strong historic context,» he said.