|Tuesday, 5 December 2023|
The Hellenic Radio (ERA): News in English, 01-12-14
From: The Hellenic Radio (ERA) <www.ert.gr/>
 NEWS IN ENGLISHERA-5. THE VOICE OF GREECE
14/12/2001 12:10:00 μμ
 NEWS HEADLINES- EU Summit in Belgium preceeded by demonstrations
- Israel launches fresh attacks on Palestinian targets
- Bin Laden "cornered in mountains"
- Temporary improvement of weather conditions
- Deadline for road tax payment extended to 21 December
- New President for GNTO
- Land Registry financing to continue says Vaso Papandreou
- Plane-spotters to be released
 EU Summit in Belgium preceeded by demonstrationsEuropean Union leaders are preparing to hold their traditional end-of-year summit at a royal palace in Laeken, a suburb of the Belgian capital Brussels.
Over the next two days, the 15 heads of government will debate Europe's efforts to tackle terrorism, its progress towards establishing a joint military force, and adopt a declaration paving the way for the next steps in EU constitutional reform.
Other areas of discussion will be the introduction of euro notes and coins on 1 January, and the admission of up to 10 new members in 2004.
There have been demonstrations ahead of the summit, with tens of thousands of trade unionists marching through Brussels in protest at what they described as their exclusion from EU policymaking.
From his side, Foreign minister Yorgos Papandreou has stated that Greece intends to reject the Summit's text regarding the euro-army if it does not safeguard Greece's sovereign rights. He even said that the issue might be discussed during the Spanish presidency.
On a relative development, 30 Pasok, New Democracy and Greek Communist party Euro-deputies have asked to veto a text that would not satisfy the Greek side.
Besides Prime Minister Costas Simitis, New Democracy party leader Costas Karamanlis and Coalition of the Left Wing and Progress party leader Nikos Constantopoulos are also in Laeken.
The Prime minister and the New Democracy party leader are participating in the meetings of the European Socialist party and European Popular party respectively.
 Israel launches fresh attacks on Palestinian targetsThe Israeli air force has launched fresh strikes on Palestinian targets in the Gaza Strip.
Helicopters and F-16 jets attacked a number of buildings in Gaza City, including a compound used by Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.
The air raids took place as the American envoy to the Middle East, Anthony Zinni, met Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to seek an explanation for Israel's decision to sever all contacts with Mr Arafat.
Mr Zinni is expected to make an announcement later on Friday about the next steps he plans to take in his attempts to curb violence in the region.
The latest strikes followed helicopter attacks on targets in the West Bank in which a police station in Ramallah and offices of Mr Arafat's Fatah faction in Jenin were hit.
Israeli tanks had already entered Ramallah and taken up positions close to Mr Arafat's headquarters, while sappers destroyed a nearby television and radio centre.
 Bin Laden "cornered in mountains"The US has sent more special forces into the mountainous Tora Bora region of eastern Afghanistan, as the hunt for Osama Bin Laden intensifies.
US warplanes have continued to attack Bin Laden's mainly foreign al-Qaeda fighters in the area, and unnamed US defence officials have been quoted as saying that there are indications the Saudi-born Islamic militant may be trapped in the area.
Meanwhile, American Secretary of State Donald Rumsfeld denied that the American army is trying to kill the Al Qaeda leaders, but warned that their surrender should take place unconditionally.
 Temporary improvement of weather conditionsWhile, a weather improvement is expected today, adverse weather conditions will prevail as of Saturday.
In the meantime, non-skid wheel chains are necessary for cars using the road network of central Peloponese, the prefectures of Kozani, Florina, Grevena, Kastoria, the northern part of the prefecture of Chalkidiki and Imathia.
 Deadline for road tax payment extended to 21 DecemberThe deadline for paying the road tax on private cars and motorbikes for 2002 has been extended to December 21, the finance ministry announced on Thursday.
The extension was given due to problems that arose in banks providing the special stickers, but the stickers will only be available from tax offices from December 17, while they will be available in banks until the end of the original deadline, December 15.
 New President for GNTOThe Greek National Tourism Organisation (GNTO) announced on Thursday that it had appointed Yiannis Patelis as its new President.
Patelis, who assumes his duties on Friday, is an economist and engineer with experience in financial and technical studies for the management and evaluation of European Union programmes, and in tourism studies, the GNTO said in a statement.
He has worked for the EU in evaluating the bloc's Mediterranean funding progammes; and for the GNTO as an adviser on managing the Community's Second Community Support Framework funds.
Patelis, who replaces Evgenios Yiannakopoulos, has also conducted tourism growth studies including golf and conference tourism. He is a member of AIEST, a world organisation of tourism experts.
 Land Registry financing to continue says Vaso PapandreouEnvironment, Physical Planning and Public Works minister Vaso Papandreou stated that the financing of the Land Registry will continue as planned by the Third Community Support Framework. Regarding the return 57 million Euros to be returned to the Community, it has already been agreed that 32 million Euros will be returned in the first phase, while the a special committee will convene to examine and reassess the remaining sum.
Meawhile, the New Democracy party stated that its accusations for mismanagement of the Land Registry by Costas Laliotis had been justified.
 Plane-spotters to be releasedThe 12 British plane-spotters being held in Greece are due to be freed after they raised their money for bail.
The British embassy in Athens confirmed on Thursday that the £9,000 surety for every defendant had been raised and would be transferred to the court very quickly.
The police will take them to the town hall to complete formalities.
Misdemeanour charges of illegal information collection still hang over them, which carry a maximum sentence of five years.
But the defence lawyers understand that if the plane-spotters leave Greece quietly and do not threaten any legal action of their own, the case may either be dropped or there will be "not guilty" verdicts eventually returned.
The group had faced a charge of spying, which carries a 20-year sentence, after they were arrested a month ago at a Greek air show for allegedly illegally taking photographs.
The two Dutchmen, whose government loaned them the bail money, were due to be released on Thursday afternoon but further delays meant they had to spend another night in jail, along with the Britons.