NEWS

In Brief

OLYMPIC PREPARATIONS

Roads, sidewalks, greenery to be ready by July, Athens mayor says Works being carried out by the Athens Municipality to prettify the capital and improve infrastructure ahead of the Olympics should be finished by July, Mayor Dora Bakoyannis said yesterday. The works include road resurfacing, the repaving of sidewalks and the planting of trees. «We must have completed everything by July 2004,» Bakoyannis said. Questioned by a reporter about the progress of a municipal program to tag and sterilize strays before the Games, the mayor answered that around 800 dogs had been collected and released. «Any stray you see with a red collar and a tattoo is one of ours,» she said. EURO ELECTIONS Greeks among the keenest to vote but many uninformed, cynical The proportion of Greeks planning to vote in next month’s European elections is very large compared to citizens in the other 24 EU member states, according to a poll conducted last month by Eurostat, the Commission’s statistics service, and whose results were made public yesterday. Of the 477 Greeks polled, 66 percent said they were certainly going to vote in the polls – the third highest score after Belgium with 76 percent and Cyprus with 67 percent. However, 65 percent of Greek respondents said they were «not familiar enough» with the role of the European Parliament and 57 percent thought that their vote «would not change anything.» FOREST PROTECTION? Fines on illegal properties suspended The payment of fines imposed for the illegal construction of properties on forestland has been frozen to allow for the finalization of charts clarifying what areas are officially forestland, according to a circular issued yesterday by the Agricultural Development and Food Ministry. Tax authorities can continue to formally issue fines but payment will not be sought, the circular said. Owners of offending properties who undertake demolition themselves or who approach authorities to carry out demolitions will have their fines annulled, according to the circular. Personal data An Athens prosecutor yesterday brought charges against unidentified parties for the illegal use and trade of personal data following an investigation into press allegations last year that several enterprises had illicitly accessed the personal details of prospective clients. The prosecutor had launched a preliminary investigation based on a report in the daily Eleftherotypia last November. Her investigation showed that banks, insurance firms, private clinics, advertizing firms and telephony companies had illegally used personal data to target potential customers. An investigating magistrate is to continue the probe. Good swimming A total of 378 Greek beaches won the International Blue Flag award for clean beaches this year, as compared to 373 last year, the Hellenic Society for the Protection of Nature announced yesterday. Once again, Cretan beaches topped the list with 78 blue flags, followed by the southern Aegean with 72, central Macedonia with 56, the Ionian with 44, the Peloponnese with 27 and the northern Aegean with 22. Motorcycle reforms Draft legislation offering tax breaks for bikers who trade in their old and noisy motorcycles for more environmentally friendly models was tabled in Parliament yesterday. The legislation chiefly applies to owners of bikes with an engine size between 50 and 300 cubic centimeters (cc) that have been on the road for more than 10 years. They will be exempt from «classification» tax when buying a new bike and will also be exempt from road tax. Those who buy a new bike over 300cc will pay no road tax for five years. Olympic compensation All those who saw their property expropriated on land next to the Olympic Village should have received compensation from the State by the end of July, Deputy Labor and Social Security Minister Gerasimos Giakoumatos said yesterday in response to a question tabled in Parliament by Communist Party MP Liana Kanelli. Legislation due to be tabled in Parliament sets July 31 as a deadline for owners of land next to the Olympic Village site that was expropriated, Giakoumatos said. He added that payment for 300 beneficiaries had already been prepared.