NEWS

In Brief

FYROM tension

FM rules out chance of early elections over dispute Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis yesterday stressed that increasingly feverish debate over the «Macedonia» name issue would not lead to early elections, as has been suggested by some. The minister commented on the insistence of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) on calling itself «Macedonia,» the name of a northern Greek region. «It is impossible to develop alliances when intransigency and irredentism reign,» Bakoyannis told Parliament’s cross-party foreign affairs committee. Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) leader Alekos Alavanos, who just visited FYROM, accused the government of abandoning «Macedonia – Greek Macedonia.» Communication breakdown Internet connection down for many users after works sever OTE cables Much of the country was left without an Internet connection yesterday after construction works in the regions of Viotia and Corinth caused serious damage to fiberoptic cables. The Hellenic Telecommunications Organization (OTE) attributed the problem to disruptive works but did not clarify that an OTE team had been at work on one of the sites. In both cases, the works damaged local cables, disabling OTE’s network in the two areas. Internet access was affected in other parts of the country too. Services were restored by late yesterday afternoon. ANTI-POLLUTION EXERCISE Authorities react to mock fuel leak Coast guard vessels and aircraft yesterday successfully conducted an exercise simulating the response to a possible fuel leak off the Bay of Elefsina under the supervision of the European Marine Safety Agency. The exercise was undertaken as part of a bid to protect the Greek seas and coastline ahead of the construction of the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline. «We want to be completely ready when the pipeline starts operating,» said Merchant Marine Minister Giorgos Voulgarakis. He said the exercise was an to «test our reflexes and improve our operational ability.» Illegal gambling A shopowner in Igoumenitsa, northwestern Greece, has been charged with running an illegal gambling den on his premises by police who had been observing him for several weeks. Officers arrested the owner along with a foreign customer after catching them laying online bets on soccer games being played abroad. Police confiscated a computer, printer and several receipts. Fugitive caught A 26-year-old Albanian illegal immigrant, who escaped police detention three-and-a-half years ago, has been charged in connection with the attempted manslaughter of a 27-year-old Greek in Patissia, central Athens, at the end of last month. The Albanian, arrested on Wednesday morning at his Athens flat, had been missing since February 2004 when he escaped police transferring him from Crete to Piraeus for deportation. He is alleged to have stabbed the Greek in the stomach and stolen the victim’s mobile phone. Protesting farmers Farmers are expected to take over the port of Souda, Crete, for 24 hours today, demanding financial measures to support the sector. The farmers will head toward the port shortly after 2 p.m. and will block the entrance area with trucks and vehicles. Financial demands being made include receiving a fuel allowance and a tax return on animal feed. Thief arrested A 23-year-old man, an Albanian national, was arrested in Athens yesterday accused of 20 counts of breaking and entering. The unnamed suspect, who claims to be a professional soccer player with a second-division Athens team, is believed to have broken into houses mostly in the southern suburbs. Police are continuing their investigation to detect possible further involvement in other crimes.