NEWS

In Brief

PUBLIC DEBT UP

Ministry figures show 9.8 pct rise in 3rd quarter, compared to 2003 Greece’s public debt rose by 9.8 percent in the second quarter of 2004, reaching 195.74 billion euros as compared to 178.19 billion euros in the same period last year, the Finance Ministry said yesterday. The debt of the general government is expected to reach 105 percent of GDP this year, as compared to 103 percent of GDP in 2003, the ministry said. VRAVRONA FOREST BLAZE Eastern Attica fire burns 60 hectares, nearby ancient site, houses safe A fire which broke out near the archaeological site of Vravrona in eastern Attica yesterday, destroyed 60 hectares of forestland. An effort involving 90 firefighters, 30 fire engines, three water-carrying aircraft and three helicopters took an hour and a half to control the blaze, which was being fanned by strong winds. Neither residential areas nor the Markopoulo Olympic shooting and equestrian centers were threatened. SAMPANIS STAMP Picture of disgraced athlete withdrawn Special commemorative postage stamps bearing the image of Leonidas Sampanis – the 32-year-old weightlifter stripped of his bronze medal after testing positive for excessive testosterone – are to be withdrawn from circulation, according to a Greek Post Office (ELTA) decision yesterday. ELTA issued an urgent memo to the country’s post offices to immediately stop the sale of the Sampanis stamps and take an inventory of stocks. ELTA’s decision is to be finalized by the end of the week. About 136,000 Sampanis stamps have been printed. Cyprus Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos yesterday said Cyprus would not block Turkey’s bid to join the European Union, but stressed that Ankara must make more of an effort to resolve the Cyprus problem. «Our wish is for Turkey to help us with its own stance… we don’t want to pose an obstacle to its EU accession,» Papadopoulos said before leaving Nicosia for Athens. Meanwhile, on the matter of Cypriots missing since the 1974 Turkish invasion, Papadopoulos said there had been «blatant backtracking» by Turkish-Cypriots. Serb extradition A Thessaloniki court yesterday decided to extradite to Serbia 34-year-old Serbian national Dejan Milenkovic, who is one of the prime suspects in the March 2003 murder of Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic. Milenkovic was arrested in Thessaloniki in July after having been at large for 15 months. He is understood not to have appealed the ruling. Family supplement Divorced, childless employees are not entitled to a family benefit from the State, under a ruling by the second section of the Supreme Court, which was made public yesterday. The Supreme Court overruled an appeals court decision according to which non-payment of a family benefit to a divorced worker – on the basis that she had no child to support – was discriminatory and unconstitutional. The higher court ruled that the benefit in question was given to support a family and not as a reward for working. Olympic recycling An Olympic recycling initiative has been extremely successful with more than 20,000 cans of trash gathered from Olympic venues so far, the Athens 2004 Organizing Committee (ATHOC) said yesterday. The trash has been sorted into three groups – plastics, paper and other garbage – to facilitate recycling, ATHOC said. So far, a total of 350 tons of waste paper and 450 tons of plastic garbage has been collected from Olympic venues and elsewhere, the statement added. Ancient wrecks Culture Ministry marine archaeologists working with the National Center for Marine Research have discovered two ancient shipwrecks in explorations between March 31 and April 6 off Samos and Chios, the Culture Ministry said yesterday. Since 2000, such joint surveys have revealed some 20 wrecks in waters off Kalymnos, Leros, Kastellorizo, Nisyros and Halkidiki. Burnt corpse Firemen who recovered a totally burnt corpse from a second-floor apartment in the Athenian district of Kypseli yesterday were unable to determine its age or sex. It is unclear what started the blaze in the Doiranis Street flat.