NEWS

In Brief

PUBLIC DEBT

Increase of 3.31 billion euros in Q1, accounting office says The country’s public debt increased by 3.31 billion euros during the first quarter of 2005 – up 1.64 percent from 201.24 billion euros in December 2004 to 204.56 billion euros, the General Accounting Office said yesterday. The level of debt calls for around 31.5 billion euros in refinancing this year, the office said. ANTI-FLOOD WORKS Evros preparations ‘nearly complete’ Most of the restoration work on dikes damaged during floods in Evros in March should be finished by the end of this month, regional officials said yesterday. A total of 13.1 million euros has been budgeted for six European Union-subsidized projects to repair local dams and build new ones, they said. Meanwhile 8.45 million euros has been earmarked for the construction of anti-flood works in the region of Hellenikon and another 2.8 million euros for anti-flood works around the Polichni stream near Thessaloniki, Public Works Minister Giorgos Souflias said yesterday. Riot suspects Thirteen suspected anarchists, detained on criminal charges of arson and explosives possession following riots in central Athens last Thursday, were released yesterday after defending themselves before an investigating magistrate. The 13 denied any involvement in the Exarchia riots, claiming that they had only participated in an anti-fascist demonstration earlier that day. Another six suspected rioters, who only face misdemeanor charges, are to defend themselves on Friday. Peace summit PASOK leader George Papandreou addressed Israeli and Palestinian decision-makers during a meeting of Socialist International in Tel Aviv yesterday. «It is very easy to find a solution to the problem (of conflict in the Middle East) when the goal of both sides is that of genuine dialogue,» Papandreou said. The PASOK chief highlighted the initiative taken by historic rivals Greece and Turkey to improve their relations as evidence that progress towards peace can be achieved with mutual will. Rhodes sponger A Rhodes trader was yesterday charged with profiteering after allegedly selling a sponge to an Arab tourist for 200 euros. A prosecutor lodged charges against the unnamed trader after the tourist reported the incident. Japanese ties Greece has neglected the Japanese market, especially in the area of exports and tourism, Economy Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis told Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis after returning from Tokyo. Greece’s participation in the Expo 2005 business fair in Aichi was a success, Alogoskoufis told Karamanlis. Alogoskoufis had talks with his Japanese counterpart Sadakazu Tanigaki and Bank of Japan Governor Toshihiko Fukui during his five-day trip. Cultural boost Eight million euros has been earmarked to boost the budgets of several archaeological restoration projects, the Culture Ministry revealed yesterday. A total of 2.6 million euros has been set aside for the restoration works on Rhodes sites. Another 2 million euros is to go toward works at Epidaurus, 1.125 million euros to Nikopolis, 1.5 million euros to the Mycenean cemetery at Voundeni outside Patras and 800,000 euros to monuments on the island of Delos. Illegal immigrants Coast guards on Kos yesterday detained seven illegal immigrants who had reached the island in an inflatable rowboat from neighboring Turkey, the Merchant Marine Ministry said. Cypriot ties Foreign Minister Petros Molyviatis is to receive his Cypriot counterpart Giorgos Iakovou in Athens today.