NEWS

In Brief

BORDER RELIEF

Exodus of migrants to be smoother as 3rd Greek-Albanian crossing opens The Christmas exodus of Albanian migrant workers living in Greece should be smoother this year, following yesterday’s inauguration by Deputy Foreign Minister Andreas Loverdos and Albanian Economy Minister Arben Malai of a third border crossing between Greece and Albania at Treis Gefyres. Sights of massive lines of migrants at the border – such as those witnessed in August – will not be seen again, Loverdos said. The checkpoint – where two modern customs houses have been built at a cost of 5.87 million euros – had been closed since the beginning of World War II. PUBLIC RALLIES Kaklamanis calls for resistance to ‘undermining’ effect of small groups Parliament Speaker Apostolos Kaklamanis yesterday called for dialogue between political parties and non-governmental groups to ensure public rallies represent the people rather than being controlled by small groups. «Gatherings of small groups in the city center… have led to the trivialization… of basic human rights,» Kaklamanis said, adding that such groups can often have an «undermining effect… on the mass movement.» Hours after Kaklamanis’s comments, leftist human rights groups held a small gathering outside Athens University demanding the release of jailed November 17 suspect and prominent trade unionist Yiannis Serifis. DOG LEVY Gov’t stands by bill, drops fees Agriculture Ministry plans announced on Thursday to charge dog owners annual registration fees have been shelved, government spokesman Christos Protopappas said yesterday. He stressed, however, that other aspects of a new bill on pets and strays will not change substantially. The bill provides for dog owners to register and tag their pets, while local authorities will gather, treat, vaccinate and sterilize stray dogs. Animal rights groups say the levy would encourage people to abandon their dogs. Truckers appeased Owners of haulage trucks and tankers yesterday decided to call off threatened strike action – which would have resulted in a shortage of goods and higher prices over Christmas – after the government agreed to fulfill most of their tax-related demands. Food prices Food price increases will be no higher than the inflation rate for most of next year, it was agreed at yesterday’s meeting between Deputy Development Minister Christos Theodorou and the board of the Food Manufacturers’ Association. A reported rise of up to 92 percent in fresh fruit and vegetables mostly applies to wholesale purchases, a ministry spokesman said yesterday, adding that prices were set to drop from Monday with an anticipated influx of new produce onto the market. Internet cafes The European Commission has threatened to take Greece to the European Court for its controversial law banning the use of electronic games in public places, which the EC says goes against European laws governing the free movement of goods, according to Greek Euro MP Christos Folias. He had questioned the Commission on aspects of the new law. Fishing ban The northern prefecture of Halkidiki yesterday banned fishing off the coast of Stratoni as a precaution following last week’s leak of 30,000 cubic meters of suspected toxic waste from the nearby TVX mining complex. Experts say initial tests showed the red mud contained no heavy metals – but did have high iron levels – and posed no threat to public health. Thessaloniki mail Mail to and from Thessaloniki should be as normal over the Christmas holidays after postmen in the northern city decided yesterday to cancel planned strikes. Policeman freed A special forces police officer, convicted of the murder of a colleague in May 1997, walked free yesterday after an Athens appeals court decided by 4-3 votes to cut his initial sentence from 15.5 to five years. Dimitris Tzavelas had been jailed for the murder of Nikos Markakis at the Greek Consulate in the Albanian town of Gjirokaster. Tzavelas, who has always claimed his colleague’s death was an accident, was released from prison as he had completed most of his sentence.