NEWS

In Brief

Population swells

Rise of 50,000 chiefly due to migrants, EC figures show The population of Greece has increased by 48,700 people in the past year, chiefly due to an influx of immigrants, the European Commission's statistics service Eurostat revealed yesterday. Greece now has a population of 11.26 million, compared to 11.21 million a year ago, an increase of 0.43 percent. But, according to Eurostat, only 0.06 percent of this rate is attributable to «a natural increase» with 0.38 percent attributed to immigration. This is above the European Union average, where the percentage increase in population growth attributed to immigration is 0.33 percent. Parthenon reopens Workers end 10-day strike The Parthenon and other ancient sites across the country reopened to the public yesterday after the Culture Ministry agreed to the demands of protesting staff who had closed them down for 10 days. The union representing 9,000 archaeologists and civil servants said it had called off the strike after the government agreed to pay them the 130-euro monthly bonus they had sought. According to some tourism officials, the 10-day closure of the Acropolis site had damaged the industry more than the violent riots that rocked the capital last week. Pirate patrols The Greek navy frigate Psara arrived in Djibouti, in the Horn of Africa, yesterday to serve as the flagship vessel in the European Union's anti-piracy operations in the Indian Ocean. The small Northeast African country has agreed to serve as a base for these operations. Psara will head the EU forces, which consist of five vessels, three aircraft and four helicopters, for four months. The EU takes over from NATO, which had patrolled the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean until now. More than 120 attacks by pirates have been reported in these waters this year. Archbishop warning During a visit to Ionian island of Zakynthos yesterday, Archbishop Ieronymos, the head of the Church of Greece, warned yesterday that the Church has to redefine its message for contemporary society. «If today we do not, like [island patron saint] Saint Dionysios, give witness to the ecclesiastical truth in a spirit of humility, peace and unity, then we will be tragic and outdated figures of an atavistic past with an eccentric role in our popular and meaningless religious festivals,» he said in an address to faithful that was attended by the local bishop, Chrysostomos. Cyprus talks Cyprus President Dimitris Christofias and Turkish-Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat yesterday held the latest in a series of face-to-face meetings aimed at drafting a new peace plan for the divided island. The United Nations mediator in the talks, Alexander Downer, told reporters that various «thorny issues» were discussed but revealed no details. Last week, Christofias accused Talat of handling the Cyprus issue «awkwardly, without respect for the Republic of Cyprus.» Municipal raids Unidentified robbers raided municipal offices in separate attacks in northwestern Greece. In the municipality of Acheronta in Thesprotia, intruders made off with 4,500 euros. In the second raid, on an office in the municipality of Evrimenon in Ioannina, all the computer equipment was taken by the looters, who vandalized the building's entrance.

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