NEWS

In Brief

FARMERS

Athens rally set for March 5, tractors not guaranteed Farmers from northern Greece yesterday decided to resume their strike action with a protest rally in Athens on March 5. Unionists from Macedonia, Thrace and Thessaly, who met in Thessaloniki yesterday, said the Athens rally would begin at 12 noon at the Panathenaic stadium and continue to the prime minister’s residence, but did not confirm whether the protesters would bring their tractors. Conservative New Democracy party farmers, who took the decision, appealed to their pro-Communist counterparts to back the farmers’ demands, which include compensation for weather-damaged crops and higher subsidies. The Communists walked out of a meeting earlier this month, saying the conservatives were in cahoots with the government. Meanwhile the EU has said it will speed up the process of approving compensation for Greek farmers, Agriculture Minister Giorgos Drys confirmed yesterday. AFGHANISTAN First Greek troops arrive, in Alexander’s footsteps KABUL – Greek troops arrived in Afghanistan yesterday for the first time since the armies of Alexander the Great 2,300 years ago, Commander Christos Manolas Christos said. Around 50 troops landed at Kabul airport aboard a military transport plane, with another 100 expected to arrive in the next few days – part of the International Security Assistance Force tasked with maintaining security in Kabul. The Greek force includes marines, special forces and engineers. The British-led force is made up of around 4,000 troops from 17 nations. The peacekeeping force backs the interim government in Kabul set up after US-aided opposition forces overthrew the ruling Taleban. (Reuters) IKA HEARING No verdict reached Striking Social Security Foundation (IKA) doctors yesterday protested against a petition by IKA managers who want the doctors’ 5-day strike action, begun yesterday, to be deemed illegal. Meanwhile, thousands of appointments were canceled across the country as clinics remained closed. IKA managers said yesterday that the offer to raise doctors’ salaries and give permanent posts to some doctors on open-ended contracts should have satisfied them. The court did not give its verdict yesterday but if the strikes are deemed illegal, more action is likely – not only by doctors but by civil servants after their union leader threatened to back doctors with their own four-day strike. Glass treasures An international exhibition of Islamic glass – dating from the 7th to 19th centuries – opens at the Benaki Museum today. «Glass of the Sultans» brings together pieces from major museums in the USA, Europe and the Middle East and considers their impact on European art. The Benaki Museum – at 1 Koumbari Street, in Kolonaki – is open from 9 a.m. daily, except Tuesdays. Dangerous tea The distribution and sale of medicines and organic products, including herbal teas which contain the natural extract illicium verum (or badiane chine) has been banned, following yesterday’s decision by the National Pharmaceutical Organization (EOF) which said the extract could contain a poisonous substance known as illicium anisatum (badiane japon ) which provokes spasms in babies and children. Luxembourg visit Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker was in Athens yesterday where he met Greek Premier Costas Simitis and President Costis Stephanopoulos before giving a speech on a united Europe at the old Parliament building. Iran support Foreign Minister George Papandreou is to meet the vice president of the Iranian Parliament, Mohammad Reza Khatami this morning. Khatami yesterday met Greek Parliament speaker Apostolos Kaklamanis.