NEWS

In Brief

DEFENSIVE MINISTER

PASOK demands explanations over purported air space reduction Defense Minister Spilios Spiliotopoulos came under intense criticism from the opposition PASOK party yesterday when it demanded explanations for an interview with a Turkish newspaper in which the minister said Greece might reduce its air space to below the current 10 miles. «We demand that the murky atmosphere be cleared,» the party said. The Defense Ministry denied the «so-called statements… to the Turkish newspaper Hurriyet, especially with regard to the discussion on the possible reduction of national air space to below 10 miles.» It said they «constitute the product of clumsy distortion and fruitful imaginings of the journalist and are not worthy of a denial.» The Athens News Agency quoted Spiliotopoulos telling Hurriyet, «We could return to nine or six miles. We can do many things. If relations continue to develop (well), I believe we can solve all problems peacefully.» OLYMPIC SECURITY All set for July 1 Public Order Minister Giorgos Voulgarakis briefed Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Saturday on security planning for the Olympics, five days ahead of the full implementation of security at Olympic facilities. «From July 1, the application of security measures begins and we held a general review of how things have progressed at all levels,» Voulgarakis told reporters. «I am very pleased because the personnel and the means that we have available have been evaluated as being capable of functioning flawlessly, as we had planned.» Earthquake Up to two dozen buildings suffered minor damage yesterday in a village near the northeastern town of Alexandroupolis after an earthquake that registered 4.8 on the Richter Scale struck the area at 6.31 p.m. The epicenter was in the sea between Alexandroupolis and Samothrace. No injuries were reported. Peace rallies Two demonstrations were held in Athens and Thessaloniki on Saturday evening against the US-led occupation of Iraq. In Athens, protesters marched from Syntagma Square to the US Embassy. US assistance US officials on Saturday handed over to the Greek coast guard three new patrol boats to help security efforts for the Athens 2004 Olympics, the US Embassy said. The boats, all of which are described as «27-foot Boston Whalers,» were presented to Merchant Marine Minister Manolis Kefaloyiannis and Hellenic Coast Guard Vice Admiral Christos Delimichalis by US Assistant Secretary of State for Diplomatic Security Francis X. Taylor during a ceremony at the Faliron Marina. The coast guard will use the three boats for «patrolling ports and marinas around Greece and for quick interdiction of rogue vessels at sea,» the embassy said. It added US officials have trained «over 200 Hellenic Coast Guardsmen in the specialized areas of underwater explosives and emergency response to weapons of mass destruction, and have conducted numerous crisis management training seminars.»