PM to meet with ministers, Greece appeals to EC for aid Prime Minister Costas Simitis is to discuss the damage and disruption caused by the recent bad weather with several ministers this morning. Economy Minister Nikos Christodoulakis yesterday asked the European Commission to help Greece cover an estimated 800 million euros in damage to infrastructure and farmland. Meanwhile Agriculture Minister Giorgos Drys asked the EC to approve Greece’s payment of compensation to farmers whose crops and assets were damaged by heavy rain and snow. Bad weather destroyed 36,000 hectares of grain in the northern prefecture of Evros, Drys said. ATHENS METRO Line 3 extension finished, Evangelismos-Syntagma suspension The Athens Metro’s tunnel-boring machine (TBM) yesterday completed a 3.8-kilometer (2.4-mile) tunnel connecting the Ethniki Amyna and Halandri stations, thereby concluding the extension to the metro’s Line 3 on schedule. Commuters will be able to use the new route – including the stations Ethniki Amyna, Halandri and Doukissis Plakentias – from June next year. Trains will not be servicing the section of Line 3 between Evangelismos and Syntagma from 10 p.m. today until midnight on Sunday due to works at Syntagma, the firm operating the metro said yesterday. Replacement buses will be running. FLIGHTS NORMAL Today’s strike called off Flights will operated as scheduled today after civil aviation workers yesterday called off a 24-hour strike. Unionists are demanding extra funding for their sector. EKAB helicopter A bathyscaphe, which has been searching for signs of a National First Aid Center (EKAB) helicopter that was lost off Icaria last Tuesday, yesterday located a section of the aircraft’s main propeller northeast of the Aegean island’s airport. The search for the Agusta A109E’s fuselage and its four-man crew continues. Banking complaints Greek banks offer customers the lowest return on their savings and the highest cost of borrowing in the European Union, the National Consumer Institute (INKA) said yesterday in response to Alpha Bank’s decision to increase loan rates. INKA said it received 8,925 complaints about consumer banking services and products in 2002 – a 28.84 percent rise from 2001 when 6,927 such complaints were made. Anti-deportation appeal A PASOK Euro MP and president of the European Parliament’s committee for equal rights for women yesterday appealed to Public Order Minister Michalis Chrysochoidis to stop the deportation from Greece of two Nigerian women whose lives are allegedly at risk. The two women, who are currently at a detention center in Amygdalezas following their arrest without official papers, face being put to death if they return to Nigeria due to their non-conformance with the laws of Islam governing the behavior of women, Anna Karamanou said in a letter to Chrysochoidis. Sites close Athens’s Ancient Agora Museum and the Stoa of Attalos are to be closed to the public until June to allow for functions scheduled to be held at the Stoa during Greece’s presidency of the EU, the Culture Ministry said yesterday. The Thessaloniki Archaeological Museum is closed to the public as of yesterday to allow for extensive refurbishment, the ministry added, noting however that the museum’s new wing would remain open. The tumulus containing the royal tombs at Vergina reopened to the public on Tuesday, the ministry added. Giscard d’Estaing Prime Minister Costas Simitis yesterday discussed the future of the European Union with former French president and President of the European Convention Valery Giscard d’Estaing who is on an official visit to Athens. European leaders must demonstrate strong political will in order for the convention to achieve its aim of creating a simpler, more effective and democratic EU, d’Estaing said, remarking that seven articles had been drafted over the last few days. Narcotics Health Minister Costas Stefanis yesterday briefed Prime Minister Costas Simitis on planned measures for tackling drug abuse. The ministers of health, justice and public order will discuss the issue on Tuesday.