Simitis says Greece backs Romania entering EU, NATO Prime Minister Costas Simitis, on an official visit to Romania yesterday, met his Romanian counterpart Adrian Nastase and President Ion Iliescu. Simitis – whose talks with the two covered bilateral relations, international affairs and developments in the Balkans – said: «We support Romania’s bid for membership of NATO and the European Union as this will contribute towards the stabilization and development of the region.» OLYMPICS Venizelos promotes Cultural Olympiad, Euro MP seeks support for Truce While Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos has been in New York promoting the Cultural Olympics ahead of the start of the Winter Games in Salt Lake City, Euro MP Anna Karamanou yesterday sought the European Parliament’s support for the Olympic Truce – an initiative of Foreign Minister George Papandreou to promote world peace in the spirit of the Olympic Games. Karamanou has asked the EP’s new president, Pat Cox, to back the initiative which she says shares the same values as the European Parliament. Venizelos on Monday discussed the Cultural Olympics with directors of New York’s Metropolitan Museum and Museum of the Moving Image. SCHOOL STAFF Teachers to strike Protesting secondary school staff, whose demands include a 25-percent salary increase, yesterday announced a 24-hour strike on Friday. Teachers in Athens and Thessaloniki will begin simultaneous demonstrations at 11 a.m. that day. Nikos Tsoulias, president of the Federation of Secondary School Teachers (OLME), said strike action would continue until the middle of February unless the government satisfied teachers’ demands. Meanwhile, school guards, who yesterday staged a protest outside the Interior Ministry demanding an extension of their contracts which are about to expire, were told by the government that their contracts – part of a pilot scheme – would be extended until June. No media Journalists are to hold a nationwide 24-hour strike starting at 6 a.m. tomorrow, the National Federation of Journalists’ Unions (POESY) said yesterday. Journalists want more pay and contracts but are also protesting against recent mass firings of colleagues. ‘Spiked’ drinks Bar owners who allow their staff to serve adulterated alcoholic drinks to customers – often causing severe health problems for the latter – face a crackdown. A Thessaloniki prosecutor has asked the Finance Ministry’s police (SDOE) officers and food monitoring officials to step up checks and report offenders. Drinks are sometimes mixed with cheaper spirits or other substances. Teacher remanded A teacher charged with committing robberies to fund his drug addiction was remanded in custody yesterday after telling an Athens magistrate he was a drug addict but not a robber. Nikos Papasakis, 40, who has already been suspended from his job at the 2nd primary school in Nea Peramo, 50 kilometers west of Athens, denies involvement in a series of robberies he is charged with carrying out in Aspropyrgos, western Athens, with the help of carpenter Leonidas Ginis. Papasakis said he only became implicated because Ginis allegedly gave his name to police under duress. PM to visit Japan Prime Minister Costas Simitis will start a 6-day visit to Japan on March 3, the Japanese Foreign Ministry said yesterday. Simitis is due to meet his Japanese counterpart, Junichiro Koizumi, as well as Emperor Akihito, the ministry said. Karamanlis Opposition leader Costas Karamanlis was in Edinburgh yesterday for a meeting with Scottish Conservative Party Chairman Malcolm Rifkind as part of the New Democracy leader’s five-day visit to the UK. On Monday he met with his British counterpart, Conservative Party Chairman Iain Duncan Smith. Miller in Larissa US Ambassador to Greece Thomas Miller yesterday visited NATO’s Joint Command Southcent (JCSC) in Tyrnavos, Larissa, northern Greece. µlast Unidentified assailants caused damage to several cars after planting a homemade explosive device (made of three gas canisters) which detonated outside a car showroom on Alexandras Avenue early yesterday morning.