NEWS

In Brief

PUBLIC DEFICIT

Alogoskoufis to push Greece’s case in talks with his EU counterparts Economy and Finance Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis is today to argue the government’s case for tackling Greece’s excessive public deficit, in talks with his 24 EU counterparts in Brussels. The Ecofin council is expected to demand that the government slashes the public deficit to the prescribed ceiling of 3 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) – from an estimated 6 percent of GDP last year – within a two-year time frame. TRANSPORT Minister heralds road safety reforms, says list of OA bidders expected soon Legislative reform aimed at improving safety on Greek roads, which hold the worst record for traffic accidents in the European Union, is to be tabled in Parliament next month, Transport Minister Michalis Liapis said yesterday following talks with Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis. The ministry has drafted the five-year plan with the help of various organizations, he said. Liapis also provided an update on the privatization of ailing state carrier Olympic Airlines (OA), saying that the government’s financial advisers would brief it on potential bidders by the end of the month. CREDIT PROBE Illicit banks come under scrutiny The Bank of Greece said yesterday that it has launched an investigation into reports that self-styled banks are offering loans through classified advertisements and that «external associates» are using credit institutions to promote and sell their products. The central bank is asking all credit institutions, both Greek banks and branches of foreign banks, to submit a profile to its credit system supervision department by the end of this month. Required details include the bank’s official name, a full list of activities and the addresses of all external associates. Soccer violence At least 14 soccer fans believed to have participated in violent episodes ahead of a scheduled match between Olympiakos and Panionios in Nea Smyrni earlier this month have been identified in video footage of the riots, Attica police said yesterday. It was not clear whether they were Olympiakos or Panionios fans. Four members of Panionios supporters’ clubs believed to have sold Olympiakos fans tickets for the stands where the violence broke out have also been identified and will be charged, police said. Farmers protest Out of 52,000 Greek cotton producers who have faced state inspections this year, 7,300 have been found to have made illicit claims for subsidies, Agricultural Development and Food Minister Evangelos Bassiakos said yesterday after meeting with local government officials and farmers from Pella prefecture. There will be an update on inspections on Friday, Bassiakos added. Earlier yesterday, cotton producers blocked the Thessaloniki-Veria national road at the junction of Alexandreia in Imathia in solidarity with Pella farmers demanding state compensation for their produce. Old professional Police in Thessaloniki yesterday arrested a 68-year-old prostitute after an officer booked an appointment with her from the classified section of a local newspaper. The woman, who is believed to have been plying her trade for many years, had requested 60 euros in exchange for her services, according to police. Olympic assets Alternate Culture Minister Fanni Palli-Petralia yesterday joined Olympic Games organizers in Thessaloniki to officially donate a fleet of 30 motorcycles – part of the «mobile assets» of the Olympic Games – to the city’s mayor, Vassilis Papageorgopoulos. A total of 60 trucks carrying 10 million euros’ worth of equipment have arrived in western Macedonia for the upgrade of regional social welfare foundations, Palli-Petralia said after the handover. Restaurant blaze A fire which broke out in the Imerovigli restaurant on Piraeus’s coastal Akti Themistokleous yesterday totally destroyed the ground-floor establishment and caused minor damage to the floors above it. A team of 15 firemen handling six fire engines took just over an hour to extinguish the blaze. It was unclear what caused the fire, which is believed to have started in the restaurant kitchen.