Protests intensify ahead of today’s meeting with minister Around 1,000 tractor-borne farmers from Thessaly yesterday blocked the national road from Athens to Thessaloniki in the Vale of Tempe on the eighth day of a campaign expected to reach a climax this afternoon, when Agriculture Minister Giorgos Drys meets farmers who are expecting a final announcement on crop subsidy levels. The farmers will discuss the meeting with Drys – postponed from yesterday – when they meet tonight. Tractors were used by farmers across northern and central Greece yesterday to block highways for several hours. In Kozani, a farmer who used his tractor to ram a car stuck at the roadblock, was sentenced to six months in jail, while a knife-wielding farmer from Serres had to be restrained after threatening to kill himself because severe weather had ravaged his crops. Union leaders are to meet tomorrow to decide whether nationwide action will continue. TECHNICAL UNIVERSITIES TEIs to stay closed until Friday as professors renew strike The five largest technical universities (TEIs) in the country – those of Athens, Larissa, Piraeus, Thessaloniki and Patras – are to remain closed until Friday, the Federation of Teaching Staff said following their meeting yesterday which decided to continue last week’s strike action. The decision by the TEI teachers, who are protesting against certain aspects of last year’s law that upgraded TEIs to university status, comes at a time when students are preparing for examinations. INTERNET-FRIENDLY Electronic tax return system launched Taxpayers who submit their income tax statements over the Internet will receive up to 45,000 drachmas’ worth of reductions – up from 25,000 last year – following the launch yesterday by the Economy Ministry of an electronic system for processing tax returns. As long as the statements are for individuals – not companies – and they have a tax number, further information can be found by visiting www.taxisnet.gr and following the instructions. Cyprus talks Cypriot President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish-Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash yesterday continued to exchange views on security issues, as they met for the eighth time in just over two weeks of intensive face-to-face talks aimed at ending the island’s division. The leaders, who are meeting under a strict news blackout, held an extra meeting last week to accelerate negotiations, which are due to break at the end of this month. The issues of property and territory are next on the agenda. Karamanlis in London Opposition leader Costas Karamanlis yesterday met his British counterpart Iain Duncan Smith in London during the New Democracy leader’s five-day visit to the UK, which also included a trip to the British Museum which houses the Elgin collection of marbles from the Parthenon. Karamanlis said of the marbles, whose return has been long sought by the Greek government, «all of humanity agrees they are not in their rightful place.» Unseen raid Unidentified robbers got away with 50,000 euros and 23 million drachmas after an unseen raid this weekend on a branch of the National Bank in Exarchia, central Athens. The bank employees discovered, upon arriving for work yesterday morning, that the safe had been plundered and a hole drilled in the wall shared by the bank and an abandoned house next door. Tollbooth workers A demand by 170 highway tollbooth contract workers that they be granted permanent employment status, has been refused by the state’s legal council in a decision which could set a precedent for workers from other sectors seeking permanency, court sources said yesterday. The matter now falls under the jurisdiction of the government, which will need to pass a new law to satisfy the workers’ demands. Mountain death Police in Serres said yesterday they had found the remains of an illegal immigrant who died while trying to cross the perilous Mount Belles on the snow-capped mountain range spanning the Greek border with Bulgaria, bringing to 18 the death toll of those who have perished in the treacherous zone in the last year. The death of the man, believed to have been an Iraqi or Iranian of about 30 years of age, appears to have been provoked by the effect of the intense cold on his constitution, already weakened by hunger, thirst and fatigue.