NEWS

In Brief

Popularity – Poll puts Simitis well ahead,but his party still lags 5.3 p Although more people (38.1 percent) now think Prime Minister Costas Simitis is better suited to govern Greece than opposition leader Costas Karamanlis (31.9 percent), conservative New Democracy is still well ahead of the ruling socialists in popularity, according to a nationwide poll published yesterday. The survey, conducted between November 11-23 by Metron Analysis on behalf of Simitis’s PASOK party, found that ND would get 37.5 percent of the vote were elections to be held tomorrow. PASOK came second at 32.2 percent, followed by the Communist Party (5.6 percent,) the Movement of Free Citizens (5.1 percent,) and Synaspismos Left Coalition at 3.3 percent. Synaspismos leader Nikos Constandopoulos was the most popular party chief at 59.5 percent. Genocide Turkey mulls remembrance day for Turks killed in 1919-22 war Turkish PM Bulent Ecevit said yesterday that Turkey is considering a day of remembrance on May 15 for Turks killed by the Greek army in Asia Minor during the 1919-22 war. He said this was in response to the ridiculous and unbelievable decision of Greece to commemorate September 14 as a day of the Greek genocide in Asia Minor. In 1922, more than a million ethnic Greeks were uprooted from what is now Turkey when Turkish forces defeated a Greek expeditionary force which landed in Asia Minor on May 15, 1919, in a move confirmed by the Sevres Treaty of 1920. Turkey refuses to admit its genocide of 1.5 million Armenians in 1916. Costakos Ensign sentenced A court martial yesterday sentenced Navy ensign Michalis Vythoulkas to four years and three months in prison for negligence that led to the loss of a ship and four lives in November 1996, when the Samaina ferry struck and sank the Costakos torpedo boat off Samos. Vythoulkas was on bridge duty at the time. The Costakos had been showing no lights, as it was taking part in a naval exercise. Bus strike. Athens blue bus drivers are holding work stoppages at the beginning and end of their shifts (until 7 a.m. and after 10 p.m.) from today until Friday. Afghan war. Just over half (56.8 percent) of all Greeks polled in a Eurobarometer survey made public yesterday approved of their government’s handling of the international crisis since September 11, compared to the European Union average of 70.5 percent. The poll, taken in the 15 EU member states between November 13 and 23 from a sample of 15,000 people, also showed that the Greeks, along with the Finns, were the least in favor of sending troops to Afghanistan. Only 5 percent of Finns and 5.2 percent of Greeks supported the move, in contrast to 65.5 percent of Britons. MP sued. Building contractor Vassilios Tsalkitzis has sued opposition New Democracy MP Constandinos Tassoulas, seeking one billion drachmas in compensation. He claims Tassoulas, as mayor of Kifissia in March 1997, demanded a 70-million-drachma bribe to allow him carry on with a local shopping mall project. Parliament must lift Tassoulas’s immunity for him to be tried. Rizari park. A Council of State rapporteur has recommended that a law allowing the building of a modern art museum by the Basil and Eliza Goulandris Foundation on public land in the Rizari park in central Athens should be declared unconstitutional. The court will rule on Friday. Protest. A delegation of 50 officers from Greece’s police force, fire department and coast guard are to stage a protest in Brussels tomorrow outside the European Union’s headquarters during a meeting there of the EU’s interior and justice ministers. Their chief demands are related to working hours, payment of overtime and recognition of certain duties as dangerous and hazardous to the health. Cheese. Burglars who broke into a food packaging plant owned by Giorgios Fytatzis in Evosmos, Thessaloniki got away with seven tons of cheese, it was reported yesterday. The total value of the stolen cheese was around 10 million drachmas. Sail away. A ban on coastal shipping from Piraeus and Rafina to the islands of Chios, Mytilene, Andros, Tinos, Syros and Crete was lifted at 6 p.m. yesterday, as weather conditions improved.