Communist protesters burn US flag outside City Hall during Ries’s visit Athens Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis yesterday condemned the burning of the American flag by communist trade unionists who were protesting outside Athens City Hall where US Ambassador Charles Ries met with the mayor. Police used tear gas to disperse some 200 people who were involved in the protest. No injuries or arrests were reported but the Communist party accused riot police of an «unprovoked attack» on the demonstrators. BLACKOUT AVERTED Locals lift Kozani plant blockade Fears of a blackout eased yesterday as residents of two villages near the Aghios Dimitrios power station in Kozani, northern Greece, ended a blockade of the plant. They had been protesting for the last three days about the lack of local hirings by the Public Power Corporation (PPC). Representatives were due to meet with PPC and Development Ministry officials in Athens late yesterday. Skopje obstacle Washington believes that the dispute between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) over the latter’s name needs to be resolved before Skopje can join NATO, in what diplomatic sources said is a significant shift in the USA’s public stance. «It would need to be resolved if Macedonia were ever to proceed further down the pathway to NATO membership,» said US State Department spokesman Sean McCormack late on Monday. «There are a number of other issues… that Macedonia would have to resolve before it could even get close to membership,» he added. Bank bombs Two National Bank ATM machines at separate branches in the Vyronas area, eastern Athens, suffered minor damage early yesterday from two homemade explosive devices that went off around 3.40 a.m. There were no reports of injuries. Smuggled cigarettes Authorities yesterday uncovered in a truck in Igoumenitsa, northwestern Greece, more than 18,000 packets of cigarettes which were about to be smuggled out of the country. The truck was scheduled to cross over into Bari, Italy, and then head to the UK, the Special Investigation Service (SIS) said. The driver, a Greek national, was arrested as an investigation into where the tobacco products originated are continuing.