NEWS

In Brief

GOING UP?

Metro chief suggests tickets should increase from 80 cents to 1 euro Tickets for single journeys on the metro could rise from 80 cents to 1 euro if Manolis Drakakis, the managing director of AMEL, the company that operates the system, gets his way. Drakakis suggested the rise yesterday but said he was purely stating his personal opinion and not the official position of the company. The Transport Ministry is thought to be considering a rise in ticket prices on all forms of public transport. There have been no increases over the last few years and the ministry wants to avoid keeping the prices steady for too long and then hitting commuters with a big rise. SKOPJE ADMISSION FYROM premier acknowledges name issue may spoil bid to join NATO Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski admitted yesterday that his country would have to step up its efforts to resolve its name dispute with Greece if it is to join NATO. «The name issue is potentially a risk with Greece,» he said in Brussels following talks with NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer. «It is necessary to intensify the discussions.» PASOK SHOWDOWN Papandreou to meet Venizelos today PASOK leader George Papandreou is due to meet with MP Evangelos Venizelos today to discuss the latter’s wish to create a group within the party to promote ideas and policies. Papandreou sees the move as a challenge to his presidency of the party from the man who lost to him in a leadership ballot last November. Papandreou may elect to throw Venizelos out of the party if no compromise is found. Cyprus bases The Cypriot government said yesterday that it is reconsidering the status of two British military bases on the island. Spokesman Vassilis Palmas said that Cyprus’s relations with Britain are being examined «through a different prism» after Britain signed an agreement with the Turkish-occupied north in October that tacitly recognized the self-proclaimed republic. «We have notified the British that the whole gamut of issues regarding the bases, their status… and the treaties are, for us, under reconsideration,» said Palmas. GSEE strike The country’s largest union GSEE yesterday approved a proposal for a 24-hour strike on February 13 in protest at proposed changes to the pension system. The union also said several marches will be held during the strike in Athens and other cities across the country. A second 24-hour strike may also be held depending on the course of talks over the planned social security reforms, GSEE added. Smuggling ring The coast guard arrested in Evia, central Greece, yesterday an Italian man believed to be the head of a group smuggling illegal immigrants into Greece. The 55-year-old was alleged to have brought 50 illegal migrants by speedboat to the island. «The arrested man was the head of a large migrant-smuggling ring which included a Greek and another foreigner who were arrested after being located in car close to where the illegal immigrants were found,» the Merchant Marine Ministry said. Hair dryer ban The Development Ministry announced yesterday the temporary banning of an electric hair dryer sold in Lidl supermarkets after tests showed it failing to meet safety standards. The Balance KH 5511 hair dryer, imported from China, did not bear the right marking concerning power charges and posed a fire risk. Antiquities theft Police in Karditsa, central Greece, were yesterday questioning a 54-year-old man from the nearby town of Lazarina after discovering a huge cache of illegal antiquities in his home. A search of the man’s home unearthed hundreds of coins, urns and other artifacts dating to the Hellenistic and Byzantine periods. The cache included more than 600 bronze coins and dozens of fragments of bronze artifacts. Drug haul Police in Thessaloniki yesterday detained five people in connection with two separate heroin hauls. Three Albanian nationals, two aged 22 and one aged 31, were being questioned in connection with the discovery of 3.7 kilos of heroin, a small amount of cocaine and a gun in an apartment in the northern city.