NEWS

In Brief

TAXI UNREST

Attica cabbies seek a year’s grace on meters, reneging on deal The Association of Attica Taxi Drivers (SATA) yesterday demanded a year’s extension on a January 1 deadline for installing receipt-issuing meters in their vehicles, reneging on an agreement reached with the Economy Ministry at the end of last month following lengthy strike action. SATA urged taxi drivers not to place their orders for the meters in response to a reminder issued on Wednesday for cabbies to order their receipt dispensers by the end of the month. Unionists are also asking that there be no change in the way their income is assessed. MIGRANT RETURNS Albania strikes deal with EU to take back its illegal immigrants Albania yesterday struck a deal with the European Union on accepting the return of illegal immigrants. The country will take back Albanians and migrants from other countries entering the EU via Albania, according to the agreement which comes into effect next month. The EU has already reached re-entry agreements with Sri Lanka, Hong Kong and Macao, and is holding talks with Morocco, Pakistan, Russia, Ukraine, Algeria, China and Turkey. Diplomats said the EU’s Justice and Home Affairs Commissioner Antonio Vitorino criticized Ankara for failing to respond to the Union’s request for a readmission agreement. ANTI-RACISM BILL Draft legislation to penalize offenders Justice and Labor ministers Philippos Petsalnikos and Dimitris Reppas yesterday presented draft legislation to tackle racist behavior. The bill, presented at the Justice Ministry, foresees «equal treatment regardless of racial or ethnic origin, religion or other convictions, age or sexual orientation» and foresees effective penalties and the creation of institutions for the protection of equal rights. Omonia facelift Works to remedy the messy revamping of central Omonia Square are to begin in January, Public Works Minister Vasso Papandreou said following a meeting yesterday on upgrading the Athens landmark, which was also attended by Athens Mayor Dora Bakoyiannis. Defense moves The Government Council on Foreign Policy and Defense yesterday unanimously approved Defense Ministry proposals for the future deployment structure of the armed forces and also renewed the annual term of the head of the joint chiefs of staff, Gen. Georgios Antonakopoulos. The decision involves redeploying troops east to Evros from the northern borders and reducing the total number of military personnel, leading to savings of an estimated 7.3 million euros. Illegal buildings State demolition teams started knocking down an illegally constructed concrete jetty outside a villa on the Athens-Sounion coastal road yesterday, and are today due to demolish other properties in Varkiza and Schinias. USA on Cyprus Washington agrees with the assessments made by the European Commission in a recent report warning Turkey that its bid to join the EU would depend on its efforts to resolve the Cyprus problem, a US State Department spokesman said yesterday. Papazoe goes PASOK deputy and former Culture Minister Elissavet Papazoe yesterday sent a letter to Prime Minister Costas Simitis saying that she would not be standing in the forthcoming parliamentary elections. She attributed her decision to both «political and personal reasons.» The achievements of Simitis’s government «were many but did not fulfill the hopes of the majority of citizens,» Papazoe said in her letter, refering to «power games» within the ranks of the ruling party. On the map Cyprus, due to join the European Union next May, wants to be represented on maps of the continent on euro notes, which is currently not the case. «We raised the issue, actually… our president did. (Cyprus) should have been included in the first place, of course,» Reuters quoted Cypriot Finance Minister Marcos Kyprianou as saying yesterday. Ferry strike Seamen on the ferries serving the Rio-Antirio strait ended their strike yesterday after the government agreed to meet their demands.