Greek-Turkish natural gas pipeline to start taking shape in December Construction of the planned extension of the Caspian natural gas pipeline from Turkey to Greece is expected to begin on December 1, the Public Gas Corporation (DEPA) said in a statement. DEPA chief Raphael Moyssis and his counterpart of Turkey’s BOTAS, Mehmet Bilgic, met in Istanbul on Saturday and discussed details and prospects of the project. It was agreed that the 285-kilometer (177-mile) pipeline, which will run from Karacabey on the southern coast of the Sea of Marmara to Komotini in Thrace, will have a diameter of 91 centimeters (36 inches). The pipeline, projected to be operational at the end of 2006 under a commercial agreement between BOTAS and DEPA, is the basic segment of a network planned to bring Caspian gas to western Europe. Inflation rate steady in May despite oil prices Consumer price inflation (CPI) was steady at 2.9 percent year-on-year in May, unchanged from April, National Statistics Service (NSS) data showed yesterday. The development was due to a slower rise in fruit and vegetable prices compared to the same month last year, offsetting the effect of higher oil prices. Inflation was up 0.4 percent month-on-month from April. The average rate for the 12 months to May was 3.1 percent, compared to 3.6 percent for the 12 months ended in the same months last year. NSS General Secretary Manolis Kontopyrakis said CPI was projected to edge up to 3.0 percent in June. Producer price inflation, an indication of future consumer prices, accelerated to 4.4 percent year-on-year in April from 1.9 percent in March. Alcoholic ‘crimes’ The Financial Crimes Squad (SDOE) is to step up inspections in retail outlets, bars and clubs regarding the quality of alcoholic drinks sold, which are frequently adulterated. It will also step up checks on the legality of street vendors, with emphasis on the country’s Olympic cities, ahead of the Games. Tourism Tourism Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos, in Beijing for the lighting of the Olympic Flame ceremony, is discussing plans for promoting Greek-Chinese cooperation in tourism with his counterpart He Guangwei. Greece will be added to the list of China’s officially designated tourism destinations and direct flights are planned between the two countries. Further, Greece plans to open two tourism bureaus in Beijing and Shanghai. Strintzis Ferry operator Blue Star Shipping’s CEO Gerasimos Strantzis yesterday submitted a surprise resignation, citing personal reasons. Pericles Panagopoulos, head of the Attica Enterprises group to which Blue Star belongs, said the company will maintain its course. Licenses revoked The Greek National Tourism Organization has revoked the licenses of 41 hotels in Attica and the Saronic Gulf islands due to inadequate firefighting standards.