NEWS

In Brief

FYROM TIES

PM refers to ‘positive’ cooperation, presses Simitis on stabilization pact Prime Minister Costas Simitis yesterday met his counterpart from the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Branko Crvenkovski, in Athens. Economic cooperation between Greece and FYROM is «particularly positive,» Crvenkovski noted, adding that Greece continues to be the chief investor in his country. Simitis has reiterated Greece’s readiness to ratify a stabilization pact signed between FYROM and European Union officials in April 2001, Crvenkovski added. Greece is one of five EU member states which have yet to ratify the pact. NEW AIRPORT Minister opens extended, refurbished Aktion airdrome Transport Minister Christos Verelis yesterday officially opened the newly extended and refurbished civil airport at the northwestern port of Aktion. The smooth operation of the new airport «will be aided by the Aktion-Preveza undersea tunnel, which was completed nine months ago,» Verelis said. The government invested a total of 15.7 million euros in works for the new airport. CINEMA SAVED Court protects ‘historic site’ The Council of State has rejected an appeal by an insurance company against a government decision protecting the Asty cinema in central Athens as a site of historical significance, court sources said yesterday. National Insurance, which owns the building housing the Asty, had argued that the long life of the Korai Street cinema did not make it a historic building. But the council deemed the building historically significant because a neighboring air raid shelter had been used by the Nazis to detain resistance fighters during World War II, and the cinema had premiered classic movies in the 1950s and ’60s. ‘Taxis Post.’ Taxpayers will henceforth be able to submit their tax declarations at post offices across the country in a special envelope – «Taxis Post» – bearing an individual number showing the declaration has been made, officials said yesterday. Envelopes, which do not have to be stamped, cost 3 euros apiece. Fuel fraud A factory near Thessaloniki had been removing the coloring agent from tons of heating oil to sell it as automotive diesel, which has a higher market value, police said yesterday following the seizure of 20 tons of doctored fuel from the factory near the Gallikos River. According to Financial Crimes Squad officers, at least another 180 tons of doctored fuel produced by the same factory are currently on the market. Officers believe three factories they have found to be trading in the oil are part of a larger smuggling ring. Migrants detained Leros Port Authority officials yesterday detained 17 illegal immigrants after being alerted to their presence on the islet of Farmakonisi. An unidentified vessel left the, mostly Sudanese, migrants on the islet before disappearing in the direction of neighboring Turkey, officials were told. Hash haul A 20-year-old Albanian man faces smuggling charges after guards at the Greek-Albanian border near Filiates confiscated a total of 96 kilos of marijuana and a box containing 14 hand grenades from the car he was driving, police said yesterday. Officers are seeking two of Ervis Kocka’s suspected accomplices. Serbia and Montenegro Greece’s Foreign Ministry, in its capacity as European Union president, yesterday welcomed the accession of Serbia and Montenegro to the Council of Europe. The accession of the newly formed nation «will enhance internal as well as regional stability and cooperation. It will also consolidate democracy, human rights and the rule of law in the country,» a ministry statement said. Emergency landing A French Super Etendard military jet was yesterday obliged to conduct an emergency landing at Iraklion airport following a mechanical failure. The pilot of the aircraft, which had taken off from the Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier off Crete, requested permission to land after experiencing a problem with the fuel feeding system. The aircraft landed safely.