Ministers agree to speed up work on road, rail links with Thessaloniki Transport ministers representing 17 Balkan countries yesterday agreed to accelerate plans to upgrade road and rail routes linking Thessaloniki with Sofia, Bucharest, Skopje and Belgrade. Greek Transport Minister Michalis Liapis, who attended the summit in Sofia, appealed to his counterparts to commit 1.5-2 percent of their countries’ gross domestic product to projects deemed necessary for economic development in the region. HOTEL DEATH Man burned in room A 32-year-old air force flight sergeant, whose charred body was found in his room at the Asteras Hotel in Vouliagmeni yesterday morning, had started a fire after dropping his cigarette, firemen said. Panayiotis Stamos, whose body was discovered by the door, had apparently consumed an excessive amount of alcohol, police said. Conscripts’ memorial A memorial service was conducted yesterday at a military outpost on the Turkish border where five conscripts were electrocuted last April while raising a metal flagpole. The servicemen, aged 20 to 28, were killed instantly after the pole became caught in an overhead electricity line. Fire risk The national fire service was yesterday placed on its highest state of readiness after the General Secretariat for Civil Protection declared that the risk of fire breaking out would be greatest in Attica, the northern and southern Aegean, Crete and mainland Greece due to strong winds forecast for these areas. Communist death Veteran communist Vassilis Nefeloudis, who died last Friday at the age of 98, is to be buried tomorrow. Nefeloudis was a high-ranking unionist and was active as a reformist following the Communist Party’s split in 1968. Foreign policy The cross-party National Foreign Policy Council convened for the first time under the new Foreign Ministry last Friday to discuss Greek-Turkish relations, Cyprus and the future of Europe. The council «contributes to creating the necessary consensus for the fundamental direction of our foreign policy,» ministry spokesman Giorgos Koumoutsakos said. Cypriots remembered Greece and the international community must help establish peace on Cyprus if the deaths of Greeks and Greek Cypriots during the Turkish invasion of the island are to be justified, Defense Minister Spilios Spiliotopoulos said yesterday. He was speaking following a service at Athens Cathedral marking 30 years since the coup that triggered the invasion.