Euro – First robbery involving new single European currency Greece had its first euro robbery this week when a group of men, still unidentified by police, mugged an electronics company employee on Thursday, outside a bank in Aegaleo, western Athens. Robbers snatched an envelope from the hands of Nicholas Bra containing 3,261 euros (1.1 million drachmas) – a relatively small sum compared to the amount of the new currency stolen over the last three months since euros were allocated to banks. According to estimates by Europol, 5 million euros (1.7 billion drachmas) have disappeared in 27 robberies in Belgium, Italy, France, Germany and the Netherlands. Guests Children of US firefighters invited by tourism organization The Greek Tourism Organization (EOT) has invited to Greece 50 children of US firefighters who lost their lives in the rescue operation following the September 11 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington. EOT’s new president, Yiannis Patelis, yesterday told US Ambassador Thomas Miller the children were invited as guests and said that he had asked the relevant authorities to arrange their ccommodation. 2002 Budget Debate ends with vote The debate over the 2002 general state budget was expected to end early this morning with a roll call vote scheduled to begin after midnight. Speaking shortly before the end of the debate, National Economy and Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis pointed to the unrest in Argentina to stress that Greece has followed a prudent policy with fiscal stability, structural changes and social policies. He pointed to the debut of the euro on January 1 and Greece’s membership of the eurozone, saying Greece today is an equal partner in the European Union and welcomes the euro and all the opportunities that it offers. Prime Minister Costas Simitis was to speak later. Opposition leader Costas Karamanlis accused the government of wasting opportunities and of fearing reform. Prices. Key agreements between retailers and the government on price freezes have allegedly been violated by certain businesses, Development Minister Akis Tsochadzopoulos said yesterday during a visit to the Varvakeio market in central Athens where he was briefed on the sufficiency of foodstuffs and price developments. Commenting on high fruit and vegetable prices, Tsochadzopoulos said he had ordered imports of produce to cover the current shortage and ensure effective monitoring of prices. Tsochadzopoulos also told consumers to shop around for the cheapest prices. Kosovo. Defense Minister Yiannos Papantoniou will travel to Kosovo tomorrow, to visit Greek soldiers at the Alexander the Great and Rigas Feraios camps. Papantoniou’s trip will include a meeting with Kosovo’s leader Ibrahim Rugova in Pristina. Bicycle thieves. A nine-year-old Greek-Cypriot boy yesterday admitted to police in Nicosia that he and a 14-year-old accomplice had repeatedly stole from department stores to get money to buy toys. In one incident, the nine-year-old boy, realizing his stolen funds were not enough to buy the bicycle he wanted, reportedly threw a crowbar through the window of another shop to get the extra funds before returning to the first store to buy the bike. The nine-year-old has since received a bicycle from an anonymous donor. In a separate incident in Nicosia, two girls, 13 and 17, and a 15-year-old boy stole 7,000 Cyprus pounds from a restaurant to get money for tattoos. Immigrants detained. Turkish police yesterday detained 222 migrants planning to enter Greece illegally from western Turkey, the Anatolia news agency reported. The migrants, who included Bangladeshis, Pakistanis, Palestinians, Iraqis, Indians and Nigerians, were found hiding in two trucks in different towns in the western province of Izmir, and were planning to travel by boat to Greek islands. Cyprus. Cypriot President Glafcos Clerides has invited Turkish-Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash to dinner on December 28, the Turkish-Cypriot newspaper Birlik reported yesterday. The paper quoted Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou as its source, adding that Denktash said he had not received the invitation. This will be Denktash’s first visit to the free part of Cyprus in 26 years and follows a similar visit by Clerides to Denktash’s home earlier this month.