NEWS

In Brief

Thessaly cotton farmers are to resume protest action, unionists decided yesterday after hearing that a European Commission agricultural affairs committee – which was to approve their demands for cotton-processing plants to reopen – would be convening on March 19 rather than February 19 as originally scheduled. They charged that Agriculture Minister Giorgos Drys had known about the date change during a meeting on Monday – at which he agreed to their demands – but failed to tell them. Farmers pledged to continue blocking key junctions of the national road network – until the State absorbs all the cotton they have produced. RELIGIOUS DIALOGUE Orthodox, Roman Catholic leaders call for a spiritual, tolerant Europe Archbishop Christodoulos and a high-ranking Vatican official, visiting Athens for talks on religious dialogue, agreed yesterday that a fledgling European Constitution should not ignore the influence of common spiritual heritages within Europe. Christodoulos and Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Vatican’s Council for Christian Unity, also agreed on the need for greater sensitivity to the problem of social cohesion faced by migrants across Europe. FISHERMEN SAFE Missing brothers found Coast guard officers yesterday found two brothers – who had been missing off the coast of Zakynthos since Sunday afternoon while on a fishing trip together – sheltering in a bay on the Ionian island. Professional fishermen Efstathios and Nikos Tsourakis, 70 and 63, had sought shelter in Kavo Keri Bay after the weather turned stormy on Sunday afternoon, rescue workers said. Bonds Tax-free popular savings bonds, with a rate of 3.6 percent, will be offered to the public next week, the Economy and Finance Ministry announced yesterday. This is the first of three issues of bonds designed to help investors achieve returns higher than inflation. The bonds will be issued on February 26. Smugglers convicted A Thessaloniki court yesterday sentenced two Danes to six years in prison for smuggling 32 illegal immigrants into Greece. Police arrested Nette Adikalan, 39, and Kasper Frandsen, 30, in July after finding 30 Iraqi and two Iranian immigrants in the truck they were driving. The Danes said they had not taken any money from the migrants who they claimed to have believed to be hitchhikers. But the migrants – who were taken to Komotini from Alexandroupolis, near the Turkish border – told police they had paid another, unidentified, person $4,000 (around 3,700 euros) each. Annan visit United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan will visit Athens and Ankara on February 24 and 25, Cypriot Foreign Minister Ioannis Cassoulides confirmed yesterday. Annan may also visit Cyprus, depending on the outcome of a briefing by Annan’s special envoy for Cyprus, Alvaro de Soto – who is mediating talks between Cypriot President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish-Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash – and the result of talks with Greek and Turkish diplomats, Cassoulides added. A settlement is unlikely to have been reached by the beginning of March, he said. Forged euros Police in Veria, northern Greece were yesterday seeking to determine the origin of 20 forged 200-euro notes which two Thessaloniki men had allegedly tried to distribute around the region. The men – both 22 years old but otherwise identified only as A.G. and P.Ch. – were arrested in Makrychori, Imathia, after a kiosk owner alerted police when he realized they had paid him with a forged note. The pair, who admitted to spending three more forged notes at other kiosks, said they had received the counterfeit euros from an Albanian man in Thessaloniki whose identity they did not know. Police confiscated 16 forged 200-euro notes from the men’s car. Anti-war rallies Dozens of Thessaloniki citizens yesterday staged an anti-war demonstration in the city center, protesting against possible US strikes on Iraq. Groups of leftists and environmentalists proposed a larger rally in Thessaloniki this Saturday, as part of an international anti-war campaign.