Foreign Ministry condemns Israeli crackdown on Palestinian town The Foreign Ministry, in its capacity as European Union president, yesterday condemned last week’s Israeli crackdown in the West Bank town of Tulkarem. «These kinds of unacceptable actions, placing under curfew the population of a whole town and occupying even schools… take the form of collective punishment,» a ministry statement said. «We comprehend Israel’s need to secure the safety of its citizens, but we are convinced that this will be effectively achieved only by the immediate, reciprocal and parallel implementation of the road map [to peace] by the two parties,» the statement added. 2004 VOLUNTEERS Applications up to 68,726, well short of final target The number of applications by prospective volunteer workers for the Olympic Games had reached 68,726 by the end of last week, the Athens 2004 Organizing Committee announced yesterday. Officials need 60,000 volunteers, but would like at least 150,000 applications in order to be able to weed out unsuitable candidates. A total of 3,250 candidates had been interviewed up until the end of March and that number is expected to exceed 4,000 this month, Athens 2004 said. Would-be volunteers should call the freephone number 800.11.2004.1 for information. AID FOR IRAQ 20-ton shipment arrives in Amman Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Magriotis yesterday discussed strategies for effectively delivering and distributing humanitarian aid from Greece to Iraq during a meeting in Thessaloniki with the northern city’s prefect Panayiotis Psomiadis and other local officials. Meanwhile, reports from Amman yesterday said a 20-ton aid shipment from the Church of Greece had arrived at the Jordanian capital and was due to be sent to Iraq. Late on Sunday, Archbishop Christodoulos conducted another service for peace at Athens Cathedral. Souda Bay Hania local authority officials yesterday decided to impose a 280,000-euro fine on American naval forces at Souda Bay, maintaining that the US military is responsible for the transportation of large quantities of toxic waste which is threatening public health. Officials said they decided to impose the penalty after US forces refused to allow all seven members of an inspection team visit the base in the morning. Also yesterday, former Euro MP Ioannis Stamoulis lodged an appeal with the Council of State – on behalf of 15 Athenians – against the government’s failure to block the USA’s use of Souda Bay under US operations connected with the invasion of Iraq. Poverty Greece and Portugal have the highest proportion of citizens living under the poverty line (21 percent each) in the European Union, according to a report by the European Commission’s statistics service Eurostat, which was made public yesterday. According to the report’s statistics – which are from 1999 – Sweden has the smallest proportion of poor citizens (9 percent), followed by Germany, Denmark, the Netherlands and Finland (all 9 percent). The overall EU average is 15 percent. N17 trial Prosecution witnesses at yesterday’s session of the November 17 trial testified in connection with the November 1991 rocket attack on a riot police bus in Exarchia, central Athens, the October 1991 killing of a Turkish diplomat and the January 1989 killing of an Athens prosecutor. None of the witnesses were able to identify any of the 19 defendants. Doctor’s bribe An Iraklion court yesterday delivered a suspended three-year jail sentence to the chief gynecologist of the Cretan port’s Venizeleio state hospital, Georgios Marakis, for taking a 600-euro bribe to operate on a patient at the end of last month. An appeal by Marakis’s lawyers for the postponement of the trial – to allow their client to receive treatment for heart problems – was rejected by the court, which set bail at 10,000 euros. Corinth blast The chairman, managing director and five officials of a Corinth pipe factory yesterday appeared before an examining magistrate in connection with last Thursday’s fatal explosion that killed six workers.