NEWS

In Brief

CHURCH RIFT

Patriarchate said to reject compromise in letter to Athens Istanbul-based Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomaios has rejected a compromise proposed by the Church of Greece to end the bitter dispute between the two churches over jurisdiction of some 30 sees in northern Greece, sources quoted by the Athens News Agency said yesterday. According to an ANA report, Vartholomaios has written to Archbishop Christodoulos insisting that the Church of Greece should send to him for approval lists of candidates for three vacant northern Greek sees. The Patriarchate and the Church of Greece had agreed on a brief truce pending the March 7 Greek parliamentary elections in their dispute which, as Vartholomaios has warned, could develop into a formal separation. KOKKALIS Espionage, money-laundering charges dropped, but not bribery A council of judges yesterday agreed to drop charges of espionage on behalf of former East Germany and money-laundering brought against telecoms and software tycoon Socrates Kokkalis, while pursuing a judicial investigation into charges of bribery. To assist the probe, the Council of Misdemeanours Court Judges ordered the opening of the businessman’s bank accounts in Switzerland and Germany. Before the matter came to the council’s attention, judicial officials had disagreed on whether Kokkalis should be prosecuted, with investigating magistrate Giorgos Pournaras calling for all the charges to be shelved due to insufficient evidence. AEGEAN VIOLATIONS Air force chases off Turkish jets A total of 17 Turkish air force jets broke the flight rules within the Athens Flight Information Region and, in three cases, violated Greek air space yesterday, military sources said. All the Turkish planes were chased off by Greek fighters, although five simulated dogfights broke out in the process. Recognition The Israeli government yesterday officially informed the Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, Irenaios I, that it had recognized his election in August 2001. This grudging act of recognition followed years of intense diplomatic pressure from Athens. Tel Aviv had claimed that Irenaios maintained improperly close ties with the Palestinians. Thessaloniki arson A makeshift gas-canister bomb exploded early yesterday in Thessaloniki under a van belonging to a private security company. Nobody was hurt, while the vehicle was badly damaged. No one claimed responsibility for the hit, although police have attributed a series of similar attacks in the northern city to anarchists or left-wing students. Road safety There was a 15 percent reduction in traffic accidents in January, compared to January 2003, and a 5 percent drop in road deaths, the National Statistics Service said yesterday. According to the NSS, 110 people were killed in January, while the total number of accidents reached 1,010 – down from 1,189 in January 2003. Meanwhile, traffic police in Thessaloniki said they had registered a total of 32,843 driving offenses by truckers last year, and 475 offenses by coach drivers. No listing The government has decided to suspend the process for the listing of Hellenic Tourism Properties (ETA) on the Athens Stock Exchange, the Economy Ministry confirmed yesterday. ETA is a state-controlled company that leases property owned by the National Tourism Organization of Greece – including beaches and hotels – to private developers. The decision followed a meeting yesterday between Economy Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis and Tourism Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos. Opposites meet The head of the Church of Greece, Archbishop Christodoulos, is to meet Greek Communist Party (KKE) leader Aleka Papariga today in an historic first visit to the KKE headquarters in Athens. Christodoulos will also meet Synaspismos Left Coalition leader Nikos Constantopoulos tomorrow, under a Church bid for dialogue with Greece’s main political parties on matters such as unemployment, drug abuse and the declining birthrate.