NEWS

In Brief

MARCH 25

War of Independence celebrations to proceed after flame-lighting The Interior Ministry said yesterday that parades and other celebrations to mark the 183rd anniversary of the 1821 uprising against the Turks that led to Greece’s liberation from the Ottoman Empire would be held as usual on March 25. The previous government had been planning to postpone the celebrations as the Olympic flame-lighting ceremony is to be held with great pomp and ceremony in Ancient Olympia on the same day, in the presence of President Costis Stephanopoulos. NEW COMMISSIONER Dimas approved for Commission seat, takes over Tuesday Conservative former minister Stavros Dimas, 63, was approved by all EU governments yesterday as the new Commissioner for Employment and Social Affairs, replacing outgoing Socialist appointee Anna Diamantopoulou. Dimas, a lawyer and economist who has worked for the World Bank, is expected to attend his first Commission session in Brussels on Tuesday. The current Commission’s term expires on October 31. NEW AEGEAN MINISTER Promises development drive The new Aegean minister, 61-year-old physicist Aristotelis Pavlidis, formally took over from his Socialist predecessor, Nikos Sifounakis, during a ceremony yesterday. Pavlidis, an MP for the Dodecanese, said he would launch a new development drive in the archipelago, and promised to draft a new bill on island development «to revive the islands’ economy.» Sifounakis had launched a series of initiatives aimed at protecting traditional settlements and architecture in the Aegean while imposing strict bans on new building development. Crash drill Athens Airport authorities are to organize an exercise on Tuesday intended to test emergency services’ response to the possibility of a plane crashing into the sea during its approach to the airport, officials said yesterday. Election approval The Supreme Election Committee is to meet today at the Interior Ministry to formally ratify the results of Sunday’s national election. Illegal immigrants Border guards in northern Greece yesterday arrested 39 illegal immigrants hidden in the back of a lorry, as well as the 34-year-old Greek trucker. The names or nationality of the suspects were not made public. The truck was stopped on a highway near Alexandroupolis, in Thrace. Police said the migrants had clandestinely entered Greece from Turkey. They are believed to have been heading for Athens or Thessaloniki. Permit scam A high-ranking Athens prefecture official was being questioned last night on suspicion of participation in a gang that allegedly sold residence and work permits to immigrants living in Greece, police sources said yesterday. A number of lawyers are also believed to have been involved in the gang, which police broke after receiving complaints from immigrants. Church feud Senior Church of Greece officials returned yesterday from a fence-mending mission in Istanbul in connection with the Greek Church’s ongoing turf war with the Ecumenical Patriarchate. The bishops of Alexandroupolis, Veria and Sparta handed officials at the Patriarchate an official Church of Greece letter containing a list of candidates to replace two northern Greek bishops who died last summer. The two churches disagree over who should have the final word on bishops’ appointments in over 30 northern Greek sees. Patriarch Vartholomaios is expected to respond to the missive following his return from a weeklong visit, starting today, to the US. Roadwork Work is to start on Monday to widen a 250-meter-long stretch of the Athens-to-Corinth national road just after the Schisto Bridge at Skaramangas, the Public Works Ministry said yesterday. This might cause traffic jams.