NEWS

In Brief

TRACTORS BACK

Farmers plan further action,government seeks to avert crisis Farmers in northern Greece met yesterday to discuss strike action – which is due to spread nationwide this weekend – while the government’s Crisis Management Committee convened to discuss how to avoid the repetition of last month’s strike-induced chaos on national roads. Thessaly farmers yesterday decided to drive their tractors to the Tempi Gorge on Monday – action which blocked traffic on the National Road earlier this month. Meanwhile the Farmers Cooperative Union charged that Agriculture Minister Giorgos Drys, whom they met on Thursday, had not responded to any of their grievances and resolved to resume action from today. Farmers from Halkidiki yesterday briefly shut down the Thessaloniki-Moudania Highway at the Sozopolis junction for the third day running. The farmers want higher subsidies. ALBANIA-GREECE Simitis notes rapprochement, more rights for ethnic Greeks Relations between Greece and Albania have improved considerably over the past few years, Prime Minister Costas Simitis said following his meeting yesterday with Albanian Prime Minister Ilir Meta. «We have made a great effort with the neighboring country over the past few years to overcome differences, and I believe we have succeeded,» said Simitis, commenting on «progress regarding the exercising of rights by the Greek minority in Albania.» Meta was on a one-day visit to Athens. Migrants Cretans block deportation A group of 105 illegal immigrants who arrived on Crete on a smuggling ship in early December were yesterday still being kept at the former airport building at Hania, with many preparing against the rejection of their applications for political asylum. Meanwhile, on Thursday night, a support group of local residents succeeded in postponing the deportation of 57 Pakistani immigrants’ after they formed a human chain in front of a ferry at Souda Bay, preventing police from transporting them to Athens. But immigrants appealing against the rejection of their requests for political asylum will need to visit Athens anyway to lodge an official appeal. Necrophilia An employee of Larissa Hospital’s morgue was arrested yesterday on suspicion of abusing the corpse of a 24-year-old woman who committed suicide, Athens’s Mega Channel reported last night. Earlier, making public the incident, hospital president Litsa Golfinopoulou expressed «sorrow and distress.» The incident occurred some time between Sunday afternoon and Monday morning when two coroners noted marks on the body. Embassy-car blast Unidentified attackers damaged a car belonging to a senior Jordanian diplomat early yesterday. They placed a homemade bomb under the vehicle as it was parked outside the Jordanian embassy in the northern Athenian suburb of Halandri. The device comprised four small gas canisters. No group claimed responsibility for the attack yesterday. Euro 2004 soccer Yesterday’s draw for the qualifying round for the 2004 European Football Championships pitted Greece against Spain, Ukraine, Armenia and Northern Ireland. Team representatives will meet on March 11 to work out a detailed schedule. The qualifiers will begin in September 2002 and end in October 2003. The group winner will qualify for the finals, while the runner-up will be involved in playoffs for a berth in the finals. Cephalonia quake An undersea quake measuring 4.6 on the Richter scale was reported south of the port of Argostoli on the Ionian island of Cephalonia just before 8 p.m. yesterday. No damage was reported. Southeastern Europe Foreign Minister George Papandreou is to join senior officials of the foreign ministries of Greece, Italy and Austria in Thessaloniki on Sunday for the launch of a three-day summit examining developments in Southeastern Europe. Multiple fraud A man charged with embezzling cash from would-be property-owners by placing for-sale signs in the districts of Koropi and Keratea outside Athens faced a prosecutor yesterday. Nikolaos Dervakos allegedly exacted cash from potential buyers who thought they were paying deposits on property for sale. Dervakos was arrested after a homeowner discovered a for-sale sign in front of her house.