NEWS

In Brief

WHITE CHRISTMAS?

Snow expected to accompany sharp drop in temperatures Temperatures are to drop sharply over the weekend, with snow and storms expected to cause travel disruptions in many regions of the country. Icy conditions are expected to make roads treacherous in western and northern Greece, while snow is forecast for much of the country in the countdown to Christmas. Storms may cause problems on coastal shipping routes. SOCCER DRAWS European opponents named Panathinaikos will face Spanish side Villarreal in the last 16 of the Champions League following yesterday’s draw. Villarreal is currently fourth in the Primera Liga. The two-legged tie will be played on February 24/25 and March 10/11. Olympiakos was drawn against French side Saint Etienne in the last 32 of the UEFA Cup. The French side finished first in Group G. The tie will be played on February 18/19 and 26. Monastiraki Square Culture Minister Michalis Liapis yesterday unveiled the refurbished Monastiraki Square, one of central Athens’s busiest tourist areas, following the completion of a much-delayed facelift. The new square has colorful mosaic tiles including a glass-covered section that allows pedestrians to see the bed of the Iridanos River. Liapis called on Athenians to make use of the new square but also to protect it. Athens Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis has pledged that nearby cafes and tavernas will not be permitted to set out their tables and chairs on the site. Cyprus talks The United Nations envoy for the Cyprus talks, Alexander Downer, yesterday told Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis that he was cautiously optimistic about a breakthrough in peace negotiations but that it was important «to keep the momentum going.» Bakoyannis said she looked forward to receiving «more constructive and positive messages about the process.» Meanwhile, her Turkish counterpart Ali Babacan urged European Union officials to «strongly encourage» Nicosia to «move toward a durable and complete solution.» Truck crash One person was killed and another injured yesterday when a fuel truck and a car crashed on the national road between Antirio and Ioannina in northwestern Greece. Both vehicles caught fire but the blaze was put out before the truck exploded. The driver of the car, who was not named, was killed. The truck driver was taken to the hospital in Patras with serious injuries. Open places Only one in 10 people who have applied for a place at Greece’s Open University is likely to be accepted for courses beginning the next academic year, following a draw today. Some 74,000 people have applied to begin their studies in the 2009-2010 year but there are only 7,200 places up for grabs.