FARMERS WON’T BUDGE
More disruption on roads as unionists demand to meet minister Motorists in northern and central Greece face more disruptions this weekend – beside those caused by the weather – after Thessaly’s cotton farmers said yesterday that they would continue to block strategic junctions on national roads with their tractors until they can meet Agriculture Minister Giorgos Drys. Yesterday, Deputy Agriculture Minister Evangelos Argyris said he would meet unionists on February 17 – two days before an EU meeting on cotton subsidies. Farmers, who yesterday set up new blockades in Larissa and Magnesia, are demanding another 100,000 tons of cotton be covered by cotton subsidies. The Melissohori interchange near Larissa was still blocked yesterday. OLYMPICS SECURITY Thousands of police to start training seminars on Monday Security staff for the Olympic Games are to start one-day training seminars on Monday to ensure they are ready to guarantee the safety of visitors to Athens in summer 2004. Thousands of officers from the Greek police force, the coast guard, the fire service, armed forces and the National Intelligence Agency are due to attend the classes to get to grips with the stricter security demanded for the Olympics. The program was planned by the security directorate of the Athens 2004 Organizing Committee and the Greek police – with advice from the British police – and will be run be specially trained security officials. BANK BLAST Attack comes day after anti-terror bill A homemade explosive device – consisting of five gas canisters bound together – detonated outside an Agricultural Bank branch in the Athens district of Kaisariani early yesterday, blowing out the bank’s front windows but causing no injuries. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast, which came one day after a parliamentary majority approved legislation aimed at cracking down on bomb attacks. Kalamata quakes Two earthquakes, measuring 4.1 and 4.6 on the Richter scale, struck the foot of Mt Taygetos – 15 kilometers northeast of Kalamata in the southern Peloponnese – just before 6 p.m. and a little over an hour later yesterday. There were no reports of injuries or damage. Press relief Deputy Press Minister Telemachos Hytiris yesterday took over the role of the prime minister’s chief press adviser, vacated on Thursday when Giorgos Pantayias was forced to resign following a report he had used his position to try help singer Giorgos Dalaras solve a tax dispute. Train times The Hellenic Railways Organization (OSE) yesterday published a list of telephone numbers which passengers can call to check train timetables. Passengers can listen to a recorded message with general information on train departures by calling 1440 from a fixed-line telephone. OSE’s central switchboard number is 210.529.7777. Information on departures from Athens’s Larissa and Peloponnese railway stations is available on 210.529.8829 and 210.513.1601, respectively. The number for Thessaloniki railway station is 2310.517.517/18. Information on international coach travel is available from 210.513.5768/69 and 210.529.8739/740. Failed robbery A Piraeus gift-shop manager made off with 8,500 euros after holding up a bank in Piraeus with a fake gun but was caught as he tried to flee. Theodoros Thomas, 25, was arrested a few meters outside the bank by police alerted by bank workers. Trolley extension The route of No. 15 Zappeion-Eleftherios Venizelos (Polygono) trolley bus will be extended to outside Petralona urban railway station as of Monday, the Athens Urban Transport Organization said yesterday. The change to the No. 15 route will mean the No. 22 Petralona-Pireos Street-Omonia and the No. 23 Petralona-Koukaki-Omonia trolley buses will no longer run. Amateurs ashore Professional armed forces staff are to gradually replace conscripts on all navy vessels, the Greek navy confirmed yesterday. The change – to be applied first on frigates – will eventually affect all vessels, the navy said.