Open-ended contracts, more posts agreed after minister, unionists talk The Social Security Foundation (IKA) will no longer hire doctors on fixed-term contracts but on open-ended ones, it was decided at yesterday’s meeting between Labor Minister Dimitris Reppas and unionists representing IKA doctors. The abolition of fixed-term contracts and the creation of more full-time posts for general practitioners are among six key changes which are to be enshrined in legislation due to be drafted in September. Until then, the proposed changes will be discussed by all parties. EMERGENCY LANDING Olympic Airways plane has engine trouble over Russia An Olympic Airways Boeing 737 traveling from Moscow to Athens yesterday made an emergency landing at the Russian city of Bryansk after experiencing trouble in one of its two engines. None of the 76 passengers and 12 crew members aboard were hurt. Another plane was sent from Athens to pick up the passengers in the Russian city which is 300 kilometers (180 miles) from Moscow. CLEAN BEACHES Minister launches volunteer program Greece’s «outstanding» record regarding the cleanliness of its beaches should be exploited to boost Greece’s tourism industry and promote the country’s image ahead of next year’s Olympic Games, Environment Minister Vasso Papandreou said yesterday during the launch of a pilot program for the voluntary cleaning of Greece’s beaches. Virtually all the country’s beaches (99.9 percent) are suitable for swimming, with 97.5 percent deemed to be of «exceptional quality,» according to the European Union’s annual report on beach standards for 2002. Albanians In a visit to Tirana yesterday, Deputy Foreign Minister Andreas Loverdos said Albanians working in Greece will be able to visit their homeland for holidays by showing Greek authorities their passports and applications for work permits, NET state television showed him saying. The government had said people without residence permits would not be allowed to leave and return. No further details were provided. Forest fires A team of 250 firemen, with 50 fire engines, and assisted by five water-carrying aircraft and two helicopters, yesterday morning managed to extinguish a forest fire which had ravaged around 100 hectares of forest and farm land since it started in the Ileia prefecture, on Monday afternoon. Firefighters also quelled blazes which started in other parts of Ileia yesterday, including Xirokambos, Vassilaki and Marathia. Also yesterday, a forest fire between the Thracian villages of Kirki and Sykorrachi ravaged dozens of hectares of pines. Firefighters managed to extinguish the blaze. N17 trial Alleged November 17 hitman Dimitris Koufodinas is to be the first of 19 N17 suspects to defend himself in court today. Yesterday, the last defense witness gave testimony at the trial in Korydallos Prison. Bitten ear A 25-year-old Cretan man bit off the ear of a 47-year-old following an argument in a cafe in the village of Demati in Iraklion prefecture, the Athens News Agency reported yesterday. However, doctors at Iraklion’s university hospital managed to reattach the victim’s ear – which cafe customers had packed into ice and taken to surgeons, the ANA said. The men, who were not named, had «personal differences,» the agency said. Mathematics medals Greek schoolchildren participating in the 44th International Mathematics Olympiad in Tokyo won one silver and four bronze medals and a commendation, putting Greece in fourth place in the European Union. The six pupils improved on Greece’s performance last year, when it came fifth in the EU with two bronze medals. Greek-US ties US Ambassador to Greece Thomas Miller yesterday conveyed to Foreign Minister George Papandreou the congratulations of US President George W. Bush and US Secretary of State Colin Powell for Greece’s handling of the European Union presidency. The country’s tenure expired at the end of June. Papandreou and Miller discussed bilateral relations during their meeting in Athens yesterday.