Ministry official resigns amid reports he acted as consultant for bank hirings Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos yesterday accepted the resignation of his top press aide, Thanassis Houpis, after a television station revealed the latter had been also acting as a consultant to the Postal Savings Bank in drawing up the conditions for the hiring of hundreds of personnel by the state-controlled bank. The issue is sensitive, as state sector hirings offer permanent employment and the law says that they must be conducted by the independent state agency known as ASEP. OLYMPIC VENUES Bill for site development approved, by Parliament, rejected by opposition Parliament’s plenary session yesterday approved in principle a government bill for the use of Olympic sites, though opposition parties rejected it. Alternate Culture Minister Fanni Palli-Petralia stressed that taxpayers would not have to pay for the maintenance of the venues but would have free access to them. She also said the development of the venues would create thousands of new jobs. Critics have charged that the bill would allow businesses to use former venues for commercial activity and develop vital open spaces in Athens. JAM RAP Preserves in Greece declared ‘safe’ The Hellenic Food Authority (EFET) yesterday reassured consumers that jam on the Greek market was safe, after the Czech Republic complained to the European Commission about E201 (sodium sorbate) – which can provoke allergies – found in Greek-made strawberry and raspberry jams. Inspections at the Thessaloniki site of the manufacturer Meletiadis did not unearth any jam containing the additive, EFET said. The additive is neither toxic nor illegal, according to EC sources. Turkish violations Some 40 Turkish military jets yesterday violated Greek air space in the northern and central Aegean 14 times, military sources said, adding that there were five simulated dogfights. Four of the Turkish jets were photo-reconnaissance aircraft, they said. More soldiers The Defense Ministry yesterday announced that it would be recruiting 5,800 professional soldiers into the country’s armed forces by the end of the year. The majority of the posts – 3,000 – are in the ground forces, with 1,250 navy posts and another 1,550 positions for the air force. Greek citizens born between January 1, 1978 and December 31, 1986 can apply. Applications for the army and air force should be submitted to draft services by July 12, and for the navy by July 13. Albanian murder Police in Piraeus yesterday arrested a 22-year-old Albanian believed to have been involved in the murder of a fellow Albanian of the same age in February. The suspect is believed to have killed Adid Hodaz with the help of a 20-year-old Albanian in return for 16,000 euros and half a kilo of heroin. Police are seeking the 20-year-old and another two Albanians believed to have supplied the cash and drugs. Cyprus talks Talks in New York between Tassos Tzionis, head of Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos’s diplomatic office, and UN Undersecretary for Political Affairs Kieran Prendergast are progressing smoothly, Cypriot Foreign Minister Giorgos Iacovou said yesterday. He said that a high-ranking UN official would probably visit government officials in Nicosia after the talks. FYROM debate The United Nations mediator for the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) is due to meet FYROM government leaders today in Skopje to discuss the thorny issue of the country’s official name. «I do not come bearing a proposal. The aim of the meeting is to exchange opinions abut the (country’s) name and see if any progress can be made,» Matthew Nimitz said on arriving from New York yesterday. Nimitz is due to meet with FYROM President Branko Crvenkovski, Prime Minister Vlado Buckovski and Foreign Minister Ilinka Mitreva. Greek-Turkish ties A Greek-Turkish task force, aiming to transfer Greek know-how to Turkey to prepare for its EU accession talks, convened in Athens yesterday, the Foreign Ministry said. The group, comprising senior diplomats from both countries, meets every six months in Athens or Ankara. Yesterday was its 13th session.