NEWS

In Brief

Turkish ties

Prime minister to visit Turkey next week in first official trip for 50 years Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis will go ahead with a planned visit to Turkey from Wednesday to Friday, the first official visit by a Greek prime minister to the neighboring country in 50 years, alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros confirmed yesterday. Karamanlis is due to meet his counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the first day of his trip. Yesterday Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis briefed the foreign affairs council on other issues such as upcoming talks on the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) name issue and the situation in Kosovo. Ancient Olympia Slow pace of reforesting burnt site ‘could shame Greece’ The Hellenic Olympic Committee (HOC) expressed concern yesterday that the slow pace of reforestation at Ancient Olympia could risk Greece being ridiculed internationally when the torch for the Beijing Olympics is lit at the site during a ceremony on March 25. «Unless it drastically improves in the coming period, [Olympia’s] present image will shame Greece all over the world,» the HOC said in a statement. The area around the site of the Ancient Olympics was badly damaged during wildfires last August and authorities face a race against time to restore Olympia in time for the internationally televised ceremony in March. Migrants detained Authorities stop 110 in Aegean Coast guard officers yesterday intercepted two inflatable boats carrying a total of 110 illegal immigrants off the Aegean islet of Farmakonisi. Authorities also arrested a 49-year-old Turkish national believed to have smuggled the migrants over from Turkey. The migrants said they paid 50,000 euros to buy the two boats. On Wednesday authorities on Samos detained another suspected human trafficker, also a Turk, believed to have smuggled seven would-be migrants to the island. Crime sweep A large-scale crime sweep in northern Greece on Tuesday and Wednesday uncovered 3,227 violations and led to 255 arrests, police in Thessaloniki said. A total of 2,259 officers participated in the crackdown which comprised checks on 1,578 stores, 16,491 cars and 19,559 individuals. Most of the offenses involved violations of traffic laws, immigration legislation and health and safety regulations. Some drugs were also confiscated. Christodoulos birthday Archbishop Christodoulos celebrated his 69th birthday yesterday with close aides as his condition remains serious. Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomaios was among those who sent his wishes to the head of the Church of Greece, who is suffering from liver cancer. Arson attack An improvised explosive device made from gas canisters that had been placed outside a car showroom in Peristeri, western Athens, early yesterday morning caused minor damage to the premises when it detonated. No one was injured. A second device failed to go off. The police have launched an investigation. Health centers Another six National Centers for Health Operations are to be built around the country, starting with Thessaloniki and Patras, Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis said yesterday. He made the comments after visiting the control center that helps coordinate health authorities during a major crisis, housed in the Health Ministry at Maroussi in northern Athens. US website The US Embassy in Athens and the US Consulate General in Thessaloniki yesterday announced that their new, improved websites are up and running. The sites – http://athens.usembassy.gov and http://thessaloniki.usconsulate.gov – feature photo slideshows and drop-down menus for easier access to information. The sites also contain «mirror sites» in the Greek language. Euroleague basketball Olympiakos missed the chance to secure second spot in their Euroleague group after losing 63-59 to Prokom Trefl in Poland last night. Panathinaikos beat Chorale Roanne 102-78 in Athens to cement top spot in Group C.