NEWS

In Brief

IKA

Management charges doctors strikes ‘illegal’ Social Security Foundation (IKA) doctors who resume their strike action today have been taken to court by IKA management who claim the ongoing protests are illegal and excessive. A hearing will take place at 12 noon today. The matter went to court after doctors rejected proposals, made by government and IKA officials at a meeting last Friday to raise doctors’ monthly salary by 50,000 to 60,000 drachmas (146-176 euros) and to hire permanently a few hundred of the 5,500 doctors who are on open-ended contracts. CYPRUS Clerides, Denktash round off first phase of negotiations today Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish-Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash meet for the last time today before taking a break until March 1 from face-to-face talks they have been holding at the disused Nicosia airport since early January with the aim of unifying the island. There have been no reports of the outcome of the talks which have been conducted under a strict news blackout. MILOSEVIC Yugoslav leader remembers peace talks In the third day of his opening statement at the UN war crimes tribunal at The Hague yesterday, former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic argued that he had worked for peace in Bosnia, noting the international conference at the Athens resort of Vouliagmeni on May 1, 1993. There, he said, he and then Greek Prime Minister Constantine Mitsotakis had persuaded Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadjic to accept the peace plan presented by David Owen and Cyrus Vance. He and Mitsotakis then attended a session of the Bosnian Serb parliament in a vain effort to persuade it to accept the plan, Milosevic said. Ambulance strike Employees of the National First Aid Center (EKAB), who want the government to double the number of ambulances in Attica, are staging a four-hour protest strike from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. today. Unionists say there is a dangerous shortage of ambulances, with less than 60 vehicles transferring patients to Athens, Piraeus and Corinth on several days last month and half as many at night. Afghan force The deployment of the Greek contingent due to join the British-led peacekeeping force in Afghanistan is now well under way after the first shipment of military vehicles and earth-moving machinery was flown into the Afghan capital yesterday afternoon. The first batch of peacekeepers – 49 men and officers – are due to arrive in Kabul today. The men, who left Thessaloniki on Sunday, will be joined by another 128 Greeks over the next two weeks. Turkish ‘tactics.’ Defense Minister Yiannos Papantoniou yesterday said Turkey was using an old tactic to maintain «artificial tension» in the Aegean dispute following Turkey’s fresh demands for the «neutralization of gray areas» but he added that this should not cause Greece concern. Speaking after a meeting with opposition New Democracy former leader Miltiades Evert, Papantoniou stressed, however, that the situation demanded the alertness and vigilance of Greek armed forces. God’s side Archbishop Christodoulos yesterday advised players of the national football team on a new tactic ahead of the European championships in May – making the sign of the cross before every game. Christodoulos told the players, who visited him accompanied by their manager and coach, that his prayers would be with them but stressed they should not be afraid of resurrecting the traditional – but now somewhat neglected – habit of making the sign of the cross before a match. Not only would the players have God on their side but they would raise moral standards in football, said Christodoulos. Mandela visit Former South African President Nelson Mandela has accepted an invitation by Foreign Minister George Papandreou to visit Greece from June 18 to 24, the Foreign Ministry said yesterday. Justice The Council of State will henceforth issue its decisions within six months of a case being heard, according to a court decision made public yesterday which aims to speed up the process of dispensing justice. The responsibility for enforcing the deadline will lie with the president of the Council of State and the court’s section heads.