NEWS

In Brief

FYROM nudged

Greek PM seeks shift on name issue, Skopje says coming weeks ‘crucial’ Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis yesterday called on Skopje to change its stance on the Macedonia name issue, saying that the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) cannot join NATO or the European Union before a mutually acceptable solution on the name dispute is reached. Intransigence and provocative actions do not belong in such alliances, said Karamanlis, speaking during an official visit to Romania. Meanwhile FYROM’s President Branko Crvenkovski said that this month would be crucial in resolving the name issue in view of NATO’s planned summit in Bucharest on April 3 and 4. High inflation Consumer price index rises 3.9 percent in January due to fuel prices Greece’s consumer inflation rose by an annual 3.9 percent in January, at the same pace as in December, as high fuel prices continue to bite into consumer pockets. Government officials, however, are optimistic the price index will decelerate later in the year and are leaving annual goals in place. It is hoped that an expected slowdown in global economic growth will help lower fuel costs due to a drop in energy demand. (Page 5) Demolition job Ptolemaida drug dens knocked down Authorities in Ptolemaida, northern Greece, revealed yesterday that they have begun to demolish abandoned buildings that have been used by some of the area’s drug users and dealers. A 14-year-old girl died in the city in January from a suspected overdose, prompting protests from locals about the drugs problem in Ptolemaida. The local municipality said yesterday that it has already knocked down eight abandoned buildings and plans to demolish more than 150 in total. «Our aim is for there not to be a single dangerous building by the end of the year,» Ptolemaida Mayor Grigoris Tsioumaris told the Athens News Agency. Giannakou operation Surgeons yesterday operated on former Education Minister Marietta Giannakou, amputating her right leg below the knee to avert the risk of an infection spreading. Giannakou had recently suffered a fracture which had failed to heal properly, due to her diabetes, creating an infection that could have become gangrenous and potentially life-threatening, doctors said. Giannakou was recovering normally yesterday, her surgeon said. Cocaine hauls Police in Attica said yesterday that they had arrested a 29-year-old Albanian man and a 25-year-old Polish woman who are thought to be members of a criminal gang smuggling heroin and cocaine into Greece. Officers found the pair in possession of more than 250 grams of heroin and 150 grams of cocaine, along with scales and an amount of cash believed to originate from drug deals. Police also arrested a 27-year-old man in Kypseli, the intended recipient of a package from Florida containing a bag of cocaine. Bar death A 49-year-old man died in hospital late on Wednesday night following an argument in a bar in Ptolemaida, near Kozani, northern Greece. The man had been severely beaten and had horrific head injuries, doctors said. Police are seeking a 38-year-old man who is believed to have been responsible for the attack. Attempted abduction? Police in Hania were yesterday questioning a 24-year-old Roma man accused of attempting to kidnap a 10-year-old boy on Wednesday afternoon. According to the boy’s parents, the suspect tried to push the 10-year-old into a car just a short distance from their home. The boy managed to escape and ran home, the parents said. The 24-year-old suspect has denied the charges, claiming that he had stopped the boy to ask him about an abandoned car in the area, police said. Fishy merchants More than 900 kilos of fish that was unfit for human consumption was seized in Thessaloniki and the Nea Michaniona fish market last month, prefectural officials said yesterday. Nine fish merchants are due to face charges as a result of the seizures.