In Brief

WEATHER – Traffic returns to normal as snowstorms ease Traffic and communications returned to normal over the weekend as snowstorms tapered off, allowing hundreds of thousands of people to use cars, buses, planes, trains and ships to leave the cities for the countryside. Police, however, warned drivers to be equipped with snow chains and to be especially careful at night and early in the morning, when freezing temperatures were expected to make roads slippery. Snow and rain are expected over the next two days, with a gradual improvement from Wednesday. BUDGET Parliament approves 2002 state budget in Saturday vote With the ruling PASOK party providing all the approving votes, the 2002 general state budget was passed by Parliament early Saturday by 155 votes in favor and 143 against. Two MPs were absent. The voting, which began at midnight on Friday, came at the end of a five-day debate. This is a budget for a new era. The euro budget presents new potential, Prime Minister Costas Simitis said after the vote. I believe the Greek economy can do even better, because it will be able to exploit this advantage. EU FORCE Ecevit says Greece will cave in Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit said on Saturday he expected Greece to agree soon to a proposal that will allow the EU’s planned rapid reaction force to use NATO assets by allowing Turkey to have a say in its actions. Greece rejects the idea of Turkey saying where the force can be used and how. Ecevit called Greece’s position strange. What it means is this: It brings to mind that Greece has a number of plans against us and does not want to miss the chance to apply them, Ecevit told Turkey’s NTV news channel. I hope that is not their real intention, but I think that since their position raises that suspicion they won’t hold out very long. Aegaleo Metro. The extension of the Attica Metro line toward Aegaleo will improve the quality of life for those living in densely populated districts of western Attica, Public Works Minister Vasso Papandreou said yesterday after the signing of the extension agreement. Districts that stand to benefit include Aegaleo, Haidari, Aghia Varvara, Piraeus, Nikaia, Korydallos and Keratsini. Bad buys. Attica’s Financial Crimes Squad this weekend uncovered a fraud and forgery scam which allegedly allowed two financial advisers to cheat a 75-year-old businessman out of 4 billion drachmas over the last four years. Stock adviser Nikolaos Zachareas, 43, and broker Nikolaos Moschos, 40, allegedly gave forged documents of his supposed investments to Vassilis Haitoglu. Police uncovered the scam when Haitoglu attempted to cash a forged promissory note for 800 million drachmas on Friday. He named Zachareas and Moschos who were then arrested in Kato Kifissia on Saturday. Boy’s body found. Rescue workers on Saturday found the drowned body of nine-year-old Yiannis Antonopoulos who disappeared with his father when their car was swept away by the Diakonaris River after it broke its banks near Patras last Sunday. The boy’s body was found off the coast of Araxos in the northwestern Peloponnese, about 26 kilometers from Patras. The boy’s father, Alexios Antonopoulos, 53, was found on Friday off the Lakopetra, 20 kilometers west of Patras. The boy’s mother had managed to escape from the car. Father and son were buried in Patras’s first cemetery yesterday. Explosion death. A 30-year-old woman died on Friday night following an explosion at her boyfriend’s country home in Ofrynio, Kavala, where the couple had gone to spend the weekend. Pagona Moraitou, a nursery school teacher from Thessaloniki, tried to light the fireplace which was connected to a frozen boiler. The sudden surge of heat caused the explosion which killed her and seriously injured 24-year-old Anastasios Giorginis. Aegean maps. It is US policy not to depict maritime boundaries on topographic maps, the office of the State Department spokesman said on Thursday when asked why recent maps produced by the National Imagery and Mapping Agency (NIMA) did not show the maritime boundary between Greece and Turkey. NIMA had recently digitized maps of the Aegean region in joint co-production with Greek and Turkish agencies, the statement said. The agency revised its paper maps from this Aegean digital data-set and has made them available to our NATO partners, it added. Explosions. Police suspect protection rackets may be responsible for two explosions in Athens early yesterday morning. The first occurred when a grenade smashed through the windows of the Mozart bar in Aegaleo at about 5 a.m. after the bar had closed. Police have attributed the second blast to a homemade explosive device, planted at the back of the McDonald’s branch in the northern suburb of Aghia Paraskevi, which caused minimal damage. There have been no claims of responsibility. No one was injured. House collapses. A neoclassical building, which was classified red following the substantial structural damage it sustained during the September 1999 earthquake in Athens, collapsed on Saturday afternoon. Fears a pedestrian had died were allayed when rescue workers found no one in the rubble. Authorities say they believe Friday’s heavy rain caused the collapse, at the junction of the Panourgia and Aulonas roads in Sepolia.