Greece will ‘not accept’ NATO involvement in EU operations Defense Minister Yiannos Papantoniou, after a meeting with his Spanish counterpart, Federico Trillo-Figueroa, said yesterday that Athens would not accept NATO’s having a deciding voice in how the EU’s nascent defense force will be used. Spain currently holds the EU’s six-month rotating presidency, during which the EU force is to be discussed further. «Greece does not accept that the EU should fall under NATO jurisdiction with regard to operations or exercises which are carried out without relying on NATO facilities,» Papantoniou said. AFGHAN CONTINGENT Another 75 troops flown out to Kabul A second batch of 75 Greek troops left Thessaloniki yesterday to join the 49 men already in Kabul participating in the British-led security force in Afghanistan. The Greek contigent will finally number 177. Greece is also sending vehicles and bulldozing machinery to Kabul. THESSALONIKI BLAST Gas pipeline explodes The explosion of a natural gas pipeline at the junction of Iasonidou and Arianou Streets in central Thessaloniki early yesterday morning caused panic among residents, but no injuries and little damage. Firefighters battled flames up to 5 meters tall which were eventually extinguished when the flow of gas was cut off from the mains by the supplier. The cause of the explosion was not clear. Torn euros The Consumer Protection Institute (INKA) yesterday asked the Bank of Greece to issue a circular to banks and businesses to stop them refusing to accept slightly torn or crumpled euro notes. INKA noted a rise in complaints from rejected consumers who have been forced to find a bank to exchange their worn currency for crisper notes. Diver found A man missing since he went diving with friends on Sunday apparently drowned after becoming entangled in fishing nets, coast guard divers established yesterday after finding the man’s body moored to the seabed -80 meters below the surface – off the coast of Lambiri, near Patras. Divers will today attempt to retrieve the body of Thanasis Nikolaropoulos, 26. Yiovanoudas A Thessaloniki court yesterday decided to halt legal proceedings against former New Democracy MP Varsamis Yiovanoudas, 48, accused of assault by his former girlfriend Maria Katavati, 29, after the latter retracted the charges she brought against Yiovanoudas in 1998. Thessaloniki lawyer Katavati – who had accused the former MP of threatening her outside her home and dragging her onto the pavement by her hair – faced prosecution herself when Yiovanoudas accused her of perjury and slander – charges he also retracted last December. Yiovanoudas was thrown out of ND following Katavati’s charges. Serbian pilgrimage The president and prime minister of the Serbian Republic of Bosnia Herzegovina, Mirko Sarovic and Mladen Ivanic respectively, yesterday visited the monastery of Helandari on Mount Athos, which is inhabited by monks of Serbian origin, as part of a pilgrimage to the monastic community. Ferry ban Ferries destined for the islands of the northern Aegean, the eastern Cyclades and the Cretan port of Iraklion were banned yesterday from leaving the ports of Piraeus and Rafina due to strong winds at sea. Stone-thrower An unidentified assailant who lurks at the junction of Syngrou and coastal Poseidonos avenues struck again late on Sunday night, damaging a taxi as it was passing through Faliron but not injuring its driver. There have been at least 12 such attacks since just before Christmas. Two people have been injured. Immigrants Foreign Minister George Papandreou will today address representatives of immigrants’ organizations on the immigration policy of the EU and Greece at a session organized by the ministry’s Committee for Non-Governmental Organizations. The session begins at the ministry’s Yiannos Kranidiotis amphitheater at 6.30 p.m. Tooth decay One in five Greek children between five and 12 years of age have tooth decay (dental caries) and a third of these children also suffer from other dental diseases, members of the dentist unions of Attica and Greece revealed at a seminar yesterday.