Snow and ice exact their toll

While much of the snow that covered Athens over the weekend had melted by yesterday, Attica, Evia and Crete continued to be dogged by practical problems after the record blizzards. The government discussed a series of relief measures – to be announced today – for farmers whose crops were destroyed. The cold destroyed some 25 billion drachmas’ (73.36 million euros’) worth of crops, according to initial estimates. Twenty-three villages in Evia and Crete remained cut off by the snow yesterday. Helicopters dropped food, medicine, animal fodder and mobile phones on them, and rescued 29 people who had got stuck in the Omalos area of western Crete. Although the capital’s central roads were free of snow and ice yesterday, secondary streets were not. As a result, thousands of drivers – in many cases shoppers whose food stocks had ran out over the weekend – clogged streets. Things became much worse when traffic police closed off major avenues to allow PM Costas Simitis to get to the airport quickly, in order to fly to the USA. Such charges are seen as blatantly unfair in Greece, where the government rejects any connection between November 17 and PASOK and has been working intensively to help track down terrorists. Simitis took pains to make clear that he was meeting with President Bush tomorrow as the representative of an independent country that did not take orders from others, as was the case during the Cold War. «The time is long gone when the prime minister of Greece would go to some countries in order to hear recommendations for a certain policy. This is no more,» he said. «The prime minister of Greece goes to the USA and wherever else in order to present his policy and its direction, to discuss and to work in common for peace and cooperation in the region.»

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