NEWS

In Brief

ACROPOLIS MUSEUM

Ground floor opens to public, remainder will be ready in late 08 An area on the ground floor of the new Acropolis Museum will be open to the public from this morning. Artifacts that were found during the construction of the museum have been put on display, including ancient homes and workshops that will be visible through clear glass floors. The area, which is free to enter, will remain open every day, apart from holidays, from 10 a.m. to noon from today until March 31 next year. The remainder of the museum will not be open to the public until later next year. CHAMPIONS LEAGUE Olympiakos drawn against English Premier League side Chelsea Greek soccer champions Olympiakos have been drawn against Premier League side Chelsea in the knockout phase of the Champions League. The draw, which took place in Switzerland yesterday, has pitted the two sides against each other for the first time. In the UEFA Cup, Greece’s last two representatives were also given tough draws. Panathinaikos will face Glasgow Rangers and AEK are up against Spanish side Getafe. HOLIDAY TRAFFIC Athenians head out of the capital More than 100,000 vehicles headed out of Athens yesterday with city-dwellers leaving for the Christmas break, according to police. Authorities said no traffic problems were recorded on the national highways out of Athens. Despite the large number of vehicles exiting the capital, police also said that traffic in the city center was heavy, particularly in commercial retail districts. Budget voted Parliament early yesterday approved the government’s 2008 national budget, which aims to lower the country’s deficit and reduce public debt. Lawmakers voted 152-148 for the budget, the first since Greece left European Union supervision for past excessive deficits earlier this year. According to the plan, the deficit next year will be cut to 1.6 percent of gross domestic product as the government hopes to achieve a balanced budget by 2010. Crete searches Police continued yesterday searching homes on Crete that they believe could be linked to illegal activity in the village of Zoniana. One man was arrested in the village of Nea Alikarnassos on suspicion of selling protection to local store owners. Homes in the prefectures of Iraklion, Rethymnon and Lasithi were also searched. Greek citizenship Some 500 people from 13 different countries were awarded Greek citizenship at a ceremony at the Athens Prefecture yesterday. «We will try to ensure that you are assimilated totally and smoothly into Greek society, especially those of you that have arrived in the country recently,» said Athens Prefect Yiannis Sgouros. More than 2,200 foreigners have been granted Greek citizenship since the start of the year. Bankers robbed Police said yesterday that armed men held up a two bank employees traveling in a taxi in Gytheion, southern Peloponnese, while transporting 35,000 euros in cash on behalf of National Bank. The employees were taking the cash to Areopolis on behalf of the bank on Tuesday when the vehicle was stopped by two armed assailants. There were no reports of injuries. Police said they have launched an investigation into the holdup. Smugglers arrested Two Romanian nationals, aged 26 and 34, were arrested in southern Greece in connection to human-trafficking charges, police said yesterday. The suspects are believed to have helped smuggle illegal immigrants from Romania into Greece and then forced them to pay back large amounts of money while working as farm hands. Police also said that Romanian authorities also arrested a 36-year-old male in Romania in connection to the crime.