NEWS

In Brief

BUDGET DEFICIT

EC gives Greece an extra year to drop below EU ceiling of 3 percent of GDP The European Commission is to give Greece an extra year to bring its budget deficit under the European Union ceiling of 3 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), according to the EU’s executive draft recommendation which was obtained by Reuters yesterday. The document, due to be published today, extends until 2006 this year’s deadline for Greece to comply with budget deficit rules set out in the Stability and Growth Pact which supports the euro. Greece’s 2004 budget deficit was an estimated 5.3 percent of GDP. RAILWAY ACTION Service disruptions likely tomorrow Employees of the Hellenic Railways Organization (OSE) yesterday said that they would join a 24-hour strike tomorrow which is likely to disrupt train schedules. OSE’s management has appealed to a court to judge the strike, called by the Panhellenic Federation of Railway Workers, illegal and excessive. Workers, who are protesting against alleged plans by OSE to dismiss 7,250 employees, said they would go ahead even if the strike is deemed illegal. Kosovo talks Serbian President Boris Tadic and Foreign Minister Petros Molyviatis discussed the outlook for Kosovo during talks in Athens yesterday. Greece can use its dual role as a European Union member and a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council to play a major role in talks to finalize the status of the province, Tadic said. Molyviatis agreed, stressing that a solution to the Kosovo problem must be based on European principles and values. Turkish violations Twenty-two Turkish fighter jets yesterday violated Greek national air space in the northern and southern Aegean seven times before being chased off by Greek fighters, military sources said. In two cases, the planes engaged in simulated dogfights. Beslan teacher Two children of ethnic Greek Yiannis Kanidis, the 74-year-old teacher who died with 340 others when a school in Beslan, southern Russia, was taken over by pro-Chechen terrorists last September, were yesterday granted Greek citizenship in a ceremony conducted by regional authorities in Thessaloniki. Kanidis’s other six children are to be granted Greek citizenship by the Greek Embassy in Moscow. Kanidis had reportedly refused an offer by the terrorists to release him in order to stay close to his pupils. Bus suspended The 110 bus service, which connects Kolokotroni Square in central Athens to the coastal suburb of Palaio Faliron, is to be suspended as most of its route is covered by the tram, the Athens Urban Transport Organization (OASA) said yesterday. Murderer traced? A 65-year-old man has been charged with the murder of 39-year-old farmer Christos Kaplakis in the Cretan prefecture of Hania, police said yesterday after DNA tests on cigarette butts found near the scene of the crime matched tests on the older man. Manolis Polentas, who has denied any involvement in the murder, is to face an investigating magistrate. Softball contest Deputy Culture Minister Giorgos Orfanos, who is responsible for sports, yesterday said that Greece would submit its candidacy to host the European softball championships this August. Orfanos’s comments followed a meeting in Athens with top officials from the International Softball Federation. Market crackdown The Development Ministry is working with the Organization of Street Markets to crack down on illegitimate traders selling goods at the country’s markets, the ministry said yesterday. Several hundred traders are believed to be falsely identifying themselves as producers, the ministry said. Rape charge A 65-year-old man is to face an Iraklion prosecutor today after his 19-year-old daughter yesterday accused him of allegedly raping her over the past five years.