In Brief


Greece’s budget deficit target for 2005 deemed too ‘optimistic’ The International Monetary Fund (IMF) yesterday expressed concern about whether Greece would be able to meet its budget deficit target this year, calling the government’s forecast of a 3.9 percent economic growth rate «optimistic.» The government’s 2005 budget aims to reduce the deficit from an estimated 5.3 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) last year to 2.8 percent this year, to comply with a European Union deficit ceiling of 3.0 percent. IMF directors called on the government to take swift measures to limit state spending and speed up structural reforms. ASBESTOS PROTEST Doctors from Ptolemaida hospital object to local burial of Thriassio slabs Doctors from the Bodosakeio Hospital in the northwestern industrial city of Ptolemaida yesterday protested against a Health Ministry decision to bury slabs of asbestos from Athens’s Thriassio Hospital at a local site. The workers said they would not accept «a populist policy (being exercised) at the expense of their children and themselves.» Minister Nikitas Kaklamanis said last November that asbestos slabs used to build the Thriassio in 1996 would this year be taken out of the country to be buried at special sites. Inhalation of asbestos particles can cause mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer. KOSOVO TALKS UN official calls for Greece’s support The United Nations’ top official in Kosovo, Soeren Jessen-Petersen, in Athens yesterday, told Foreign Minister Petros Molyviatis that he expected Greece’s help to push for talks on the province’s status this year. Jessen-Petersen said he hoped Greece would use its role as a European Union member and seat on the UN Security Council to move Kosovo further up the agenda of both bodies. Molyviatis stated Greece’s «extremely active interest» in Kosovo. He is today due to meet with Serbian President Boris Tadic in Athens. Turkish violations Eleven formations of Turkish fighter jets yesterday violated Greek national air space in the Aegean 10 times before being chased off by Greek fighters, military sources said. In two cases, the planes engaged in simulated dogfights, according to the sources, who added that two of the Turkish jets were photo-reconnaissance Phantoms. Railway strike Train schedules are likely to be disrupted on Thursday as workers join a 24-hour strike called by the Panhellenic Federation of Railway Workers yesterday. Workers are protesting against alleged plans by the Hellenic Railway Organization (OSE) to dismiss 7,250 employees. Mobile telephony Mobile telephone subscriptions in Greece rose to account for 84.9 of the population in 2002, compared to just 2.6 percent in 1995, according to figures made public by the European Commission’s statistics service Eurostat yesterday. Greece is second only to Luxembourg, where mobile phone subscriptions accounted for 120 percent of the population, according to Eurostat. Aktor rebuffed The fourth section of the Council of State has rejected an appeal by the Aktor construction firm against a refusal by the National Broadcasting Authority (ESR) to grant it access to a state contract, court sources said yesterday. Aktor had filed an injunction against ESR after the council had refused to grant it a «certificate of transparency» for the Thessaloniki Town Hall tender. Meningitis A 15-year-old girl, who was rushed to Athens’s Evangelismos Hospital on Saturday evening with symptoms of meningitis, was yesterday in critical condition, doctors said. It was not clear what form of meningitis the girl was suffering from, specialists at Greece’s Center for the Control of Special Infectious Diseases said yesterday. Athens market The renovation of Athens’s central Varvakeios Market is due to be completed by March 31, Mayor Dora Bakoyannis said yesterday, following talks with Development Ministry officials. The ministry has allocated 500,000 euros to cover most of the cost of setting up new display cases for butchers’ stands.

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