NEWS

In Brief

REFUGEES – UNHCR criticizes Greek-Turkish agreement on illegal immigrant The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) yesterday criticized a recent agreement on illegal immigration between Greece and Turkey, saying it failed to respect the basic rights of refugees. The agreement foresees the automatic return of illegal immigrants caught trying to cross the Greek-Turkish border to their country of departure. The UNHCR says it is concerned that the deal is not in accord with the key provisions of the 1951 Geneva Convention on Refugees, which guarantees them against being forcibly returned to their country of departure without due process. (AFP) UNCONCERNED Greeks see government, not public to blame for environmental problems Greeks are only interested in environmental issues that directly concern them, and feel state authorities – as opposed to members of the public – are much more to blame for problems such as air pollution, droughts and waste disposal, according to a survey published yesterday. A nationwide poll commissioned by the Hellenic Society for the Protection of the Environment and Cultural Heritage also found that only 12 percent of Greeks are environmentally friendly. FARMERS’ PROTESTS Emergency government meeting As cotton growers demonstrated in several towns of northern Greece yesterday for higher crop prices, Interior Minister Costas Skandalidis chaired a session of the government crisis management committee on the matter. We are fighting hard to solve the farmers’ problems, he told journalists. Farmers are planning more demonstrations today, while a contingent with tractors outside Thessaloniki has been threatening to block a major road junction for days – in a repeat of the 1996-97 campaign that caused chaos throughout the country. Trolley strike.Athens and Piraeus trolley bus drivers will hold a four-hour strike tomorrow from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., in order to attend a general assembly. Corinth antiquities. A group of 274 out of the 285 antiquities stolen from the Corinth Museum in April 1990 will be re-exhibited at the museum on Saturday, reports said yesterday. The artifacts were recovered from the USA in 1999, and returned to Greece in January. Two people have been arrested for the theft, the biggest of its kind in Greece Hospital sued. An Athens woman has sued the capital’s KAT hospital for 115.8 million drachmas in damages after its doctors allegedly left a four-centimeter strip of bandage near one of her spine disks during an operation in 1995. Eleni Tzereme, 48, said KAT doctors had assured her that, despite intense back pains, there was nothing wrong with her after the operation. Security forces. Some 4,000 police, fire brigade and coast guard employees demonstrated through the centre of Thessaloniki yesterday to demand higher pay and shorter working hours, as well as new legislation on the circumstances under which they can use their service firearms. Papantoniou. Defence Minister Yiannos Papantoniou will pay an official visit to Albania on December 11 and 12, the ministry said yesterday. Inappropriate? Composer Stavros Xarchakos, a European MP for conservative New Democracy, yesterday voiced displeasure at the use, by Athens Mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos’s fledgling party of an 85-year-old popular ditty he made famous in a slightly different version during the 1980s. The tune, Tis Amynis ta Paidia originally referred to an insurgency against King Constantine I during World War I. It was more or less adopted as the Movement of Free Citizens (KEP) official song during the party’s founding conference on Saturday, with lyrics praising Avramopoulos’s dashing character. Xarchakos, 60, said KEP had massacred the song. Avramopoulos is a former ND member. Internet duties. Owners of Internet cafes complained yesterday about excessively high duties that could be imposed on their businesses by the government, under a draft bill that puts Internet cafes in the same category as video game parlors. This would oblige Internet cafe owners in cities with a population over 50,000 to pay a duty of 900 euros per computer, which is higher than most of these computers actually cost.