In Brief


Parliament votes for EU expansion, defense force dispute continues An overwhelming parliamentary majority of 253 yesterday ratified the EU’s Treaty of Nice, which clears the road to membership for up to a dozen countries, including Cyprus. The ruling PASOK party and main opposition New Democracy voted in favor of the treat. The Greek Communist Party voted against it, while the Left Coalition abstained from voting. The treaty makes it harder for nations to block EU policies and lays out plans for an EU rapid reaction force – a thorn in the side of the government whose handling of Turkey’s potential role in the force continues to face fierce opposition, with honorary ND Chairman Constantine Mitsotakis yesterday insisting that Athens should resist EU pressure for a compromise. FOOD SAFETY Government and other officials guarded on new BSE study Government and food safety officials were guarded yesterday in their reaction to Tuesday’s announcement by a respected US scientist that the proteins causing bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) can accumulate in the muscle tissue of mice – but possibly also livestock – as well as nerve tissue. Deputy Development Minister Christos Theodorou, who yesterday pledged 1.5 million euros for raising health and safety standards in Athens’s Rendi meat market, said the government would carefully consider the revelations of Nobel Prize-winning scientist Stanley Prusine. Food safety officials said they would consider reviewing their testing procedures. TV DEBAUCHERY Hanky-panky reports prompt probe An Athens prosecutor yesterday ordered a preliminary investigation into press reports alleging that the participants of the controversial reality TV shows «Bar» and «Big Brother 2,» broadcast by Mega and Antenna TV channels, respectively, have been involved in «various debauched and immoral acts.» If successful, the probe will be extended to late-night TV programs with sexual content, the prosecutor said. Fanar online Churchgoers will be able to follow the sermons of Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomaios from the Istanbul-based patriarchate on their computer screens as of next Sunday, March 24, thanks to an initiative by the Macedonian Press Agency (MPA) to broadcast church services on its website, made public at a press conference in Thessaloniki yesterday. MPA will offer live coverage of the patriarch’s Sunday services on its website: Church on politics In comments expected to cause violent political reactions, Archbishop Christodoulos told an audience of army officers yesterday that the economy is «in a tragic state,» and added that «Greece needs suitable leaders to confront the exceptional state of affairs the country is currently going through.» He was speaking to officers at the National Defense College in Athens. Journalists’ strike Greek journalists will hold a two-day strike next Wednesday and Thursday, seeking «decent» salary increases and calling for an end to recent mass layoffs in the industry, media unions decided yesterday. The strike will not apply to state ERT and private Alter television, which have already met union demands. Reforestation The government has earmarked up to 25 million euros to transform 7,000 hectares of farmland into forestland by the end of this year, Deputy Agriculture Minister Fotis Hadzimichalis said yesterday, ahead of World Forest Day today. A national reforestation initiative aims to restore 2,500 hectares of burnt and ravaged land, said Hadzimichalis. Anti-racism demo Immigrant groups and anti-racism organizations are holding a rally in central Athens at 7 p.m. today – World Day Against Racism – to draw attention to the difficulties experienced by immigrants up against a complex bureaucracy. A similar protest will be held in Thessaloniki at 7 p.m. at the Venizelos statue in the city center. Elevator death A 12-year-old Albanian boy suffered fatal injuries on Tuesday night after becoming trapped in the elevator of his apartment block in the Athens district of Kallithea. Stang Dima, who had his bicycle in the elevator with him, died on arrival in hospital Samir Dr Sima Samir, Afghanistan’s deputy PM for women’s issues, is due in Athens today for a five-day visit.

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