NEWS

In Brief

Proposals by Cabinet secretary Socrates Cosmidis for smaller and more closely knit ministries «are old… and do not refer to the present,» Telemachos Hytiris, a government spokesman, said yesterday. Cosmidis’s comments on Wednesday had been widely seen as heralding a decision by PM Costas Simitis to reshuffle his Cabinet in the wake of widespread corruption claims, mostly emanating from the Avriani newspaper. Cosmidis said yesterday he had had this opinion since 1995, noting however that it was «strictly personal» and unrelated to current events. Also yesterday, Press Minister Christos Protopappas sued Avriani publisher Giorgos Kouris for 1.5 million euros for slander, following Kouris’s claims that businessman Athanassios Athanassoulis funded Protopappas’s 1996 election campaign. ISRAEL VISIT Papandreou to discuss peace with Sharon, Arafat, Irenaios Foreign Minister George Papandreou will visit Israel on Monday to discuss the Middle East peace process with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, ministry spokesman Panos Beglitis said yesterday. Papandreou, who is also due to meet with Jerusalem’s Greek Orthodox patriarch, Irenaios, is concerned at «discord and strife… in a very sensitive area,» Beglitis commented. On Monday, Irenaios sued one of his senior bishops – in an Athens court – for allegedly offering a Palestinian man half a million dollars to assassinate him. Archbishop Christodoulos has called Irenaios and offered to mediate in the crisis, a Church of Greece spokesman said yesterday. HEPATITIS B Migrant influx blamed for rise The influx of illegal immigrants into Greece has provoked a rise in the number of Hepatitis B sufferers, with around 300,000 people living in the country now infected, according to World Health Organization figures made public yesterday ahead of a medical conference starting in Thessaloniki today. Of the migrants entering Greece, an estimated 10-25 percent carry the disease, the conference was told. An estimated 100,000-150,000 people living in Greece are believed to be infected with Hepatitis C. Heat wave Temperatures are forecast to reach 35C (95F) in parts of Greece tomorrow. Garbage protest Residents and municipal authority staff from western Attica are to block the national road to Corinth at the oil refinery at Aspropyrgos between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. today as they continue to protest plans to create new waste recycling sites in their area. Savings bonds The government will issue a second lot of savings bonds, whose investment limit has been increased from 10,000 to 15,000 euros, beginning May 19, the Economy Ministry said yesterday. Saturation warning The saturation of the Pagasitic Gulf, off Volos, with fertilizers has reached dangerous levels, environmentalists warned yesterday, adding that effective policies to tackle the problem are crucial. Heavy rainfall earlier this year caused great quantities of phosphorus and nitrogen to flow from farmland into the Pagisitic Gulf, a local environmental watch group said. Greek satellite The long-delayed launch into space of Greece’s first telecommunications satellite is scheduled to take place at Cape Canaveral in Florida just before 6 p.m. local time on Monday (just before 1 a.m. Greek time), OTE Telecom said yesterday. The satellite will be used to broadcast the Athens 2004 Olympic Games. Mailman mystery Police in Naoussa, northern Greece, were yesterday searching for a 45-year-old post office worker who disappeared with 20,000 euros destined for local pension payments on May 2. Faliron station The main platform of the Faliron station of the Kifissia-Piraeus electric railway will be closed from Monday as refurbishment works get under way, it was announced yesterday. Commuters will be able to access temporary platforms from the Aghios Dimitrios Church, 200 meters from the station.