NEWS

In Brief

FREEZE ON TAXABLE VALUES

Christodoulakis allays fears of imminent rises in property taxes Feared hikes in taxable real estate property values of up to 60 percent were allayed yesterday after Economy Minister Nikos Christodoulakis said values due to increase as of February 1 would be frozen. Deputy Economy Minister Apostolos Fotiadis caused concern late last year when he controversially announced that taxes could rise by as much as 60 per cent in 28 municipalities. FARMER PROTESTS Tractors will rumble into road action at Vale of Tempe today Farmers yesterday continued to block national roads by parking their tractors at strategic junctions on the second day of their protest aimed at securing higher subsidies. Thessalian farmers yesterday parked 250 tractors in the Vale of Tempe and will today start blocking the crucial pass to Macedonia for an hour a day, as decided at a farmers’ summit at Tempe. The meeting also resolved to send representatives to Athens on Friday to brief political party leaders and to organized a Sunday summit for the farmers of Thessaly. Farmers from Thessaly and Macedonia yesterday briefly shut off major roads, including the Thessaloniki-Nea Moudania road which was blocked at Sozopolis, meaning traffic had to be diverted via the old national road. The border crossing at Euzoni on the border with FYROM was also briefly barred. HUMAN SMUGGLING Thessaloniki conference A one-day conference organized in Thessaloniki yesterday by the Ministry for Macedonia and Thrace and the US Consulate presented the findings of an American study which states that 700,000 people are involved in human trafficking every year. Human smuggling is the third most lucrative activity for traffickers after the illegal trade in drugs and guns. Gambling probes Prosecutors in both Patras and Thessaloniki yesterday launched official investigations into incidences of illegal gambling in their respective cities, following the expulsion from Parliament of former PASOK MP and anti-gambling committee chairman Alexandros Chrysanthakopoulos on Friday after the latter was shown on national television working an illegal slot machine in a Patras arcade. National Economy Minister Nikos Christodoulakis yesterday announced the nationwide introduction of strict new measures to curb illegal gambling. Presidential distinctions Costis Stephanopoulos yesterday awarded honorary distinctions at an annual ceremony at the presidential mansion. Greek-Russian archaeologist Victor Sarianidi – a member of the Russian Science Academy whose excavation work includes the unearthing of Bactrian treasures in Afghanistan last month – and Leon Benmayor, Honorary Chairman of the Israeli Community of Thessaloniki, were both awarded the Golden Cross of the Battalion. Teacher action Supply teachers, protesting against rumors that existing hiring methods are due to change, meet at 10 a.m. this morning in front of Athens University before marching to the Education Ministry and then Parliament. Meanwhile, technical university (TEI) teachers announced at a press conference yesterday that TEIs in Athens, Patras and Larissa will remain closed until Friday, when they are to hold a union conference. Doctors’ strike State hospital doctors begin a 48-hour strike tomorrow. Topping their list of demands is asalary increase to the level of their EU counterparts who, they say, currently earn nearly twice as much as they do. Overworked The Attica Police Union yesterday launched proceedings against a senior officer for allegedly violating the law governing maximum working hours by assigning its officers to more jobs than they were physically able to complete in one day. Officers assigned to work a full shift on January 19 and then another beat from 1 p.m. to 9 p.m. on January 20 – after which they were required to provide security for the Aegaleo-OFI and AEK-Olympiakos football matches – were overworked and ultimately in no state to carry out their duties, the union charges. EU logo contest A competition for the design of a logo which will represent Greece’s EU presidency for the first half of 2003 was announced yesterday by the Foreign Ministry. The ministry has made a specific appeal to students to take part in the contest. The deadline for submitting proposals is March 15.