Gas stations in Thessaloniki and other northern cities will start refueling today after local fuel tanker owners called off a strike yesterday after being assured by Macedonia and Thrace Minister Haris Kastanidis that their demands for increased delivery fees would be met as of January 1. Fuel tanker owners in other parts of Greece stopped their action on Wednesday after an agreement was reached between the government and the national federation of fuel tank owners’ associations. The union representing northern fuel tank owners had accused the federation of reneging on demands for increased fees. TURKISH REFORMS Curbing of military influence good but changes must be applied Greece welcomes Turkish reforms designed to curb the army’s influence in politics, Foreign Ministry spokesman Panos Beglitis said yesterday. The reforms, which were passed in Turkey’s Parliament on Wednesday but still need the president’s approval, «constitute another positive step» on Turkey’s course towards European Union membership, Beglitis said. However, Beglitis stressed the importance of «not just to adopt, but to apply these reforms.» ROWING CENTER Olympic venue opens in Schinias The Olympic rowing center at Schinias today opens its gates to the 557 athletes from 46 nations due to compete there during next year’s Olympic Games. A four-day test event is due to start at the center on Wednesday. Athens 2004 Organizing Committee President Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki and International Olympic Committee Athens inspection chief Denis Oswald – who is also president of the World Rowing Federation – are to attend an opening ceremony for the test event on Monday evening. Migrants intercepted Port Authority officials yesterday detained a total of 45 illegal immigrants and three suspected smugglers on islands in the Aegean, the Merchant Marine Ministry said. Officials arrested 12 migrants, of various origins, and a Turkish suspected smuggler after spotting them in a fishing boat off the coast of Lesvos. Eight Somalis, eight Sudanese nationals and two suspected smugglers (a Turk and a Romanian) were stopped on the islet of Agathonisi, near Patmos. And officials on Chios stopped 12 migrants (11 Iranians and one Afghan). Hunting season This year’s season for hunting birds will be extended by at least 10 days – in contravention of European Union legislation – according to a decision signed yesterday by the Agriculture Ministry. The new reforms will allow bird hunting to continue until the end of February 2004. According to European Union legislation, the absolute deadline for hunting birds is the end of January. Boat capsizes An 11-year-old British girl drowned on Thursday after falling off a small sailing boat that capsized off the Ionian island of Lefkada, the Merchant Marine Ministry said yesterday. Laura Rose Morgan and another two children fell into the sea off the coast of Palairos when the boat overturned. The cause of the girl’s death was not determined. The two other children were unharmed. Police in Lefkada were yesterday seeking to determine who permitted the children to take the boat out to sea unsupervised. November 17 The lawyers representing Vassilis Tzortzatos, the fourth defendant to testify in the trial of the 19 suspected members of the November 17 terror group, yesterday lodged an objection against the use of previous depositions made by their client – during the preliminary investigation and before an investigating magistrate – claiming Tzortzatos’s testimonies had been extracted using threats. The court is to rule on the objection on Monday. Piraeus billboards Piraeus Mayor Christos Agrapidis and the managing director of the Athens 2004 Organizing Committee, Yiannis Spanoudakis, yesterday discussed the removal of billboards from the town as part of a campaign to prettify Piraeus ahead of next year’s Games.