NEWS

In Brief

EU CONSTITUTION

Opposition parties call for referendum as Parliament to debate ratification The heads of the three main opposition parties – PASOK, Synaspismos Left Coalition and the Communist Party (KKE) – yesterday submitted a joint proposal for a referendum on legislation for the ratification of the European Constitution ahead of a debate on the subject due to begin in Parliament today. A demonstration against the adoption of the treaty, organized by KKE, is to begin at Kaningos Square at 7 p.m. today. The rally, to be followed by a march to Parliament, is likely to disrupt traffic in central Athens. ARCHBISHOP IAKOVOS Longtime leader of Orthodox Church in the Americas dies at the age of 93 Former Archbishop Iakovos, who led the Greek Orthodox Church in the Americas for 37 years, died late on Sunday at the age of 93 in Stamford, Connecticut. Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis yesterday paid homage to Iakovos for «defending… our national interests, with the exclusive guiding principle of his love for Orthodoxy and the Greek people.» TRADE CRACKDOWN Alcohol, bootleg goods, seized The Economy Ministry’s customs audit officers have seized more than 368,000 bottles of contraband spirits that had been destined for export, the ministry said yesterday. The smuggled alcohol, chiefly vodka and whisky, represents 1.9 million euros in unpaid taxes, it said. Meanwhile, the ministry’s Financial Crime Squad (SDOE) said it had seized more than 43,000 bootleg items of designer clothing following raids on three Athens firms. Trial-fixing probe Theoklitos, Bishop of Thessaliotis, who was forced to resign at the end of February following allegations linking him to a trial-fixing ring, is to testify before Supreme Court deputy prosecutor Giorgos Sanidas today. Tomorrow, Archimandrite Iakovos Yiossakis – a suspected key figure at the center of the ring, currently in detention – is to testify before Sanidas. Greek-Bulgarian ties President Karolos Papoulias and his Bulgarian counterpart Georgi Parvanov yesterday discussed bilateral relations and regional matters in Thessaloniki. They welcomed the signing of an agreement to construct an oil pipeline from Burgas to Alexandroupolis, due to take place in Sofia today. Turkish violations A total of 28 Turkish military jets yesterday violated Greek air space in the northern and central Aegean 10 times, military sources said. Four of the Turkish jets were photo-reconnaissance aircraft, they said. Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Petros Molyviatis said in an interview with Turkey’s Anatolia news agency that «it should be of particular concern to us that our countries… are spending very large sums on a daily basis on military activities that ultimately do not change (our) well-known positions.» Grate thieves A Greek and a foreigner endangered citizens of Salonica by stealing six metal grates from manholes across the city, police said yesterday. The pair sold the heavy grates to an ironmonger for 20 euros apiece, police said, without clarifying whether they had been arrested. Deficit drop The trade deficit fell by 8.2 percent to 2.13 million euros last February, as compared to 2.32 million euros in February last year, the National Statistics Service (NSS) said yesterday. Online information An Interior Ministry circular distributed to government ministries, regional and prefectural authorities and other public administration offices yesterday asked them to publish on their websites information that would be of serious interest to citizens, such as job opportunities. Information destined for immigrants should be available in a widely spoken foreign language, such as English, the circular said. College entrants An estimated 92,500 pupils are expected to sit entrance examinations for a total of 66,324 places at universities (AEI), technical colleges (TEI), and military or police training colleges this summer, meaning that around seven in 10 candidates will be placed, the Education Ministry said yesterday.