- - Sunday, December 12, 2010

BRITAIN

Officials: Students made ‘contact’ with royals

LONDON | Student protesters made physical contact with the wife of Prince Charles during an attack on the couple’s car that has sparked a review of royal security, a British government minister said Sunday.

Home Secretary Theresa May told Sky News that “there was contact made,” although she would not confirm reports Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, had been poked with a stick through an open car window.

The prince’s office also declined to comment, but stressed that the royal couple did not seek medical help after Thursday’s altercation.

Officials are assessing royal security after the attack on Charles and Camilla, whose Rolls-Royce strayed into the path of protesters against tuition-fee increases. They hit the car with sticks, fists and bottles and chanted “off with their heads” before the vehicle pushed its way through the crowd and drove off.

Police have launched a “major criminal investigation” into the demonstrations, which saw protesters scuffle with riot police, smash windows and daub government buildings with graffiti.

GREECE

Economist: Greeks must accelerate reforms

ATHENS | The European Central Bank’s chief economist said on Sunday that Greece needed to press on with difficult structural reforms if it is to overcome the debt crisis plaguing the nation.

“The program remains broadly on track. … But Greece needs to continue structural reforms to lay a sound basis for growth and job creation,” Juergen Stark said in an interview with Greek daily To Vima.

“It is not a 100-meter sprint, it is a marathon, and Greece has just started with this process.”

Greece has committed itself to drastic reforms and cutbacks in its overblown state sector in return for a $148 billion European Union-International Monetary Fund loan that saved it from bankruptcy this year.

In late November, Athens won approval for a new slice of rescue funding but the IMF and EU prescribed even tougher action on tax evasion, waste in health care and on state companies to merit another payout.

KOSOVO

Serbs in Kosovo defy boycott call

GRACANICA | Minority Serbs on Sunday turned out in large numbers to vote in the central enclave of Gracanica, defying appeals from Belgrade to ignore Kosovo’s first elections since declaring independence.

People in the town, the site of a UNESCO-protected Orthodox monastery a few miles from the capital Pristina, waited patiently in line outside polling stations in cool and clear weather to take their turn to vote.

Officials said the turnout in the enclave was unprecedented.

That signals a major turnaround in Gracanica, which almost completely boycotted the last major polls here in 2007, when the then-EU-administered province elected a Kosovo Assembly as negotiations on the future of the territory moved into a delicate phase.

Serbia refuses to recognize Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence in 2008 and considers the region a breakaway province.

It maintains a parallel administration especially in the Serb majority region of Kosovo, north of the Ibar River.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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