NEWS

In Brief

A Parliamentary committee yesterday approved a bill tabled by the Aegean Ministry that offers incentives to property owners to demolish eyesores in the Aegean. Landlords are to be offered cash for the demolition and renovation of their properties, according to the bill which will initially target buildings in traditional settlements and areas of exceptional natural beauty, Aegean Minister Nikos Sifounakis told the committee. The bill – whose implementation will be funded by the state and the European Union – is the first to be tabled by the ministry in its 18 years of operation. DEFENSE DEPLOYMENT Forces to move east from the north, less staff employed, costs to be cut Defense Minister Yiannos Papantoniou yesterday briefed Prime Minister Costas Simitis about the future deployment structure of the country’s armed forces: Forces are to be moved east to Evros from the northern borders where there is no risk, while the total number of military personnel will be cut, and more flexible and cost-efficient military units will be created, Papantoniou said, adding that the new structure would lead to savings of around 7.33 million euros. OLYMPIC TRUCE Gov’t welcomes UN assembly’s appeal Government spokesman Christos Protopapas yesterday welcomed the virtually unanimous decision by the United Nations General Assembly to call for a worldwide truce during next summer’s Olympic Games in Athens. The move «constitutes a major victory for peace, the spirit of the Olympic Games and the Greek government,» Protopapas said. Air space violations Five formations of Turkish fighter jets yesterday violated the Athens Flight Information Region eight times and Greek national air space in the northern and central Aegean three times, military officials said. In all cases, the 19 Turkish jets were chased off by the same number of Greek aircraft, the officials said. Rio-Antirio strike Ferry crossings between mainland Greece and the northwestern Peloponnese are only being conducted between the ports of Aghios Nikolaos and Aigion as seamen on ferries servicing the Rio-Antirio crossing continue their strike action from 7 a.m. today until 7 a.m. tomorrow. Unionists, who are seeking higher salaries and pensions, failed to reach a compromise with Merchant Marine Minister Giorgos Paschalidis during a meeting on Monday. Site inspections Inspections by Labor Ministry officials on construction sites in Athens have resulted in one in three of the operations being suspended, the ministry said yesterday. Since September 24, there have been 184 inspections, 12 prosecutions, 15 fines imposed and 58 operations suspended according to the ministry, which said checks would intensify. Extortion Police in Piraeus yesterday arrested a police officer and a lawyer in the act of collecting 4,000 euros from the female friend of a contractor the two men had been threatening. Police officer Ilias Savvopoulos (employed in the force’s VIP protection unit) and lawyer Jonathon Constantinou had allegedly been threatening to hand over to police contractor Manolis Skaliotis against whom an arrest warrant was outstanding. Kallithea station Prime Minister Costas Simitis yesterday inaugurated the newly renovated Athens electric railway station at Kallithea. Kallithea station, which has been in operation since 1928, currently serves 40,000 passengers daily – a figure expected to rise to 60,000 in the future, Transport Minister Christos Verelis said. A fleet of 15 new trains have been bought and eight stations renovated as part of plans to upgrade the entire Piraeus-Kifissia railway network, Verelis added. Street drugs A Bulgarian father and son smuggled large quantities of drugs into Greece by hiding packages behind street signs along the Thessaloniki-Serres national road for buyers to collect, police said yesterday after arresting the duo.