NEWS

In Brief

PM VISIT

Karamanlis returns from trip to Dublin after meeting with Irish PM Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis met yesterday with his Irish counterpart Bertie Ahern in Dublin, where the two leaders discussed the future of the European Union. Karamanlis was accompanied by his new foreign minister, Dora Bakoyannis, who had earlier said that Greece’s foreign policy would not be following a new direction. The pair returned to Athens last night having also visited Germany on Wednesday. NAME DISPUTE Athens to protest EU’s tip to use ‘Macedonia’ in dealings with FYROM Foreign Ministry spokesman Giorgos Koumoutsakos said yesterday that Greece will take «the necessary action» to protest an internal European Commission e-mail which encouraged officials to refer to the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia as Macedonia and not FYROM for fear of insulting Skopje. Koumoutsakos reiterated that Brussels has agreed to use the name FYROM for Greece’s neighboring state during its EU membership talks until Athens and Skopje find an alternative solution that is acceptable to both sides. REFUGEES IN GREECE 1.9 pct of 2005 applicants got asylum Greece granted asylum to 1.9 percent of the refugees who applied for it last year, well below the EU average of 26.4 percent, according to figures released by the UNHCR in Greece yesterday. However, the percentage of refugees being granted asylum in Greece has doubled since 2004. Reception centers can hold up to 900 refugees but there were more than 9,000 applicants for asylum last year, the UNHCR said. OA flights Transport Minister Michalis Liapis said yesterday that the Olympic Airlines routes Thessaloniki-London and Thessaloniki-Rhodes-Lesvos are profitable and will remain in operation regardless of developments concerning the air carrier’s privatization. Liapis told Parliament that the Thessaloniki links with Dusseldorf and Stuttgart in Germany have low passenger traffic and result in annual losses of 3.6 million euros. Victim remembrance New legislation making January 3 a national day of remembrance for victims of terrorism was yesterday voted through Parliament by ruling New Democracy and the main opposition party PASOK. The amendment was opposed by Synaspismos Left Coalition and the Communist Party (KKE) who questioned the motives behind it. Athens mayor The Athens municipal council will meet next Thursday to elect a new mayor to replace Dora Bakoyannis, who is now foreign minister, officials said yesterday. The new mayor will take over until the end of the year, when he or she will be replaced by whoever is elected in the October local and mayoral elections. Bank strike Bank employees will be holding a 24-hour strike today in protest at employer plans to abandon collective wage talks in the sector. Banks have said that they will negotiate pay rises only with their own employees and not on a sectoral level. Stowaways stopped A 24-year-old truckdriver was arrested by coast guard at the port of Patras late on Wednesday night after six men without identification documents were found in the back of his vehicle, the Merchant Marine Ministry said yesterday. The driver, who was preparing to board a ferry to Italy, was arrested and his truck seized. Bomb threat An unidentified man called Mega television station yesterday and said that a bomb had been placed at its facilities on Mesogeion Avenue. A bomb disposal squad was notified and inspected the building only to determine that it was a prank. Court battles The European Commission referred Greece to the European Court of Justice 18 times in 2005, mostly for breaches of EU law regarding the environment, it said yesterday. The cases included excessive air pollution created by a Public Power Company power plant in Crete, the protection of wetlands in Mesolongi and the burning of rubbish. The European Court issued 20 decisions against Greece in the year, the Commission added.