Entries in Greece (40)


Greek Workers to Protest New Austerity Measures, Call for Strike

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(ATHENS, Greece) -- Workers in Greece have called for a strike.  
The country's two main unions, ADEDY and GSEE, covering civil servants and the private sector, respectively, have called for a two-day strike to begin on Nov. 6. The workers called the demonstration, which will take place in central Athens, in objection to new austerity measures worth $17.5 billion. Lawmakers are set to vote on the bill next week.

The decision to strike comes as lawmakers already have approved a bill allowing the privatization of public utilities in a vote that saw dissent from members of the two junior partners in the three-party governing coalition.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Police on Alert as German Chancellor Merkel to Visit Greece 

US State Department(ATHENS, Greece) -- German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Tuesday brings her tough-talking advocacy for austerity to ground zero of the European debt crisis, and police in Athens are so nervous, they are employing over-the-top security measures.
Police have flooded the streets with 7,000 additional officers and hundreds more undercover agents, stationed snipers on rooftops, closed a half dozen subway stations and sent helicopters to hover over the city to help protect the German chancellor from expected massive demonstrations. Police have also banned protests outside Merkel's hotel and along the route she will travel -- effectively creating a 300-foot-wide bubble separating her from the Greek public as she negotiates the future of Greece's finances.
The country where democracy was born has had to go hat in hand to wealthier European neighbors to deal with crippling debt, and nobody has coughed up more than Germany -- to the chagrin of many German politicians and voters, who see the Greek economy as bloated and riddled with corruption.
But in Greece, three years of austerity and six years of recession have pushed unemployment of young workers to above 50 percent, forced middle-class families to soup kitchens, and even brought into parliament Golden Dawn, an anti-immigrant and anti-Euro party that many call fascist and neo-Nazi.
Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, who usually weighs his words carefully, recently warned that Greece's social fabric was on the verge of cracking. He cited Golden Dawn's ascendance as evidence that Greece could suffer the same fate as Germany's Weimar Republic -- whose own economic collapse led to the rise of the Nazi party in the 1930s.
Samaras hopes to convince Merkel and Greece's other creditors that they need to lower demands to cut government spending. The "troika" of the European Commission, the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank are withholding a massive loan until the Greek government makes the cuts. Without the funds, Greece admits it will run out of money next month.
But Merkel is expected to reiterate demands the Greek government cut further, and that's why the police are so worried. The country's labor unions have called for protests, as has the main opposition party, Syriza.
"We want to send a message to not only our government but also to Europe that there’s a lot of people here, the majority of society, who can’t stand these measures of austerity, and this is a common fight that we have with other European people in Spain, Italy, Portugal and France, against austerity," Syriza press officer Christos Staikos tells ABC News. "This policy destroyed all the Eurozone."
Samaras and most analysts argue that during a time when governments and people are too weak to spend much money, Merkel needs to help facilitate growth in Greece.
"The economic program that is being proposed is too extreme," Nicholas Economides, a professor of economics at NYU Stern School of Business, argued to ABC News. "The troika is asking for cuts that are way too big given the circumstances, and they would only increase Greece’s recession."
The divide between Merkel, the creditors and much of the Greek public mirrors that between President Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney when it comes to the Eurozone crisis. Obama has sent Timothy Geithner to Europe at least a half dozen times to advocate for greater investment and growth. Top Romney advisor Glenn Hubbard, on the other hand, recently argued that Obama's attempts to encourage growth over austerity "reveal ignorance of the causes of the crisis.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Greek Jumper Expelled from Olympic Team for 'Racist' Tweet

Stu Forster/Getty Images(LONDON) -- Fans have taken to the Internet to defend Paraskevi "Voula" Papachristou after the Greek triple jumper was expelled from her country's Olympic team for a Tweet perceived as racist.

Papachristou, 23, was preparing to head to London for her first Olympic Games when she posted a joke to her Twitter feed. It was about the West Nile virus, and appeared to mock Greece's African immigrant population.

"With so many Africans in Greece, at least the mosquitoes of West Nile will eat homemade food!!!" she tweeted Sunday.

Papachristou has often taken to Twitter to express her support for the extreme right-wing party Golden Dawn, which has recently surged in popularity among Greeks.

In response to criticism by Twitter users who said her joke was racially insensitive, she initially took a defiant tone.

"I'm not a stuck CD! And if I make mistakes, I do not hit replay! I continue playing!" she tweeted on Monday.

By Wednesday, though, she had turned remorseful, saying in a statement on Twitter and Facebook, "I would like to express my heartfelt apologies for the unfortunate and tasteless joke I published on my personal Twitter account. I am very sorry and ashamed for the negative responses I triggered, since I never wanted to offend anyone, or to encroach human rights."

"I would like to apologize to all my friends and fellow athletes, who I may have insulted or shamed, the National Team, as well as the people and companies who support my athletic career," she said. "Finally, I would like to apologize to my coach and my family."

That apology was not enough to save her spot on the Greek Olympic team. The Hellenic Delegations' Administration Board decided to remove her from the team, citing "comments that go against the values and ideals of Olympism."

In Greece, reactions to the tweet and Papachristou's expulsion appeared to split along partisan lines. A spike in illegal immigration from Africa and Asia has contributed to increasing anti-immigrant sentiment among many Greeks.

The co-ruling Democratic Left party joined the chorus calling for Papachristou's expulsion.

"She can make as many vile 'jokes' as she likes on social-networking sites when she watches the Olympic Games on TV," it said. "But she certainly cannot represent Greece in London."

Meanwhile, supporters in Greece and abroad have flocked to social-networking sites to defend Papachristou, who finished 11th in June's European championships in Helsinki with a 13.89-meter jump but did not reach the 2011 world championship final.

"Anybody who watches Family Guy probably found the joke funny. Anyone offended took it the wrong way," said Ryan Brenneman of Marion, Ind., on Papachristou's Facebook page. "I'm sorry it blew up on you. It's a shame that you worked so hard and can't compete now...."

Another American commenter said comedians on national television in the United States could have made the same joke with, "absolutely no consequences to them."

While many argued that the tweet was misinterpreted or simply not offensive, others said Papachristou should be forgiven because she has apologized for her mistake.

Papachristou's apology quickly garnered more than 800 "likes," and Facebook groups calling for her reinstatement on the team are proliferating.

"You have obviously worked your entire lifetime to get where you are today and that should not all be taken away from you for a single NOT at all severe comment," said Ava Scofiled, of Monterey, Calif., in a letter she posted to one of those groups.

Some Greeks, though, used Facebook to chide Papachristou for disgracing her home country.

"You made a serious mistake and unfortunately paid with the most exhaustive manner. Perhaps the punishment seems excessive," said one comment. "But you should know that Olympic Games and the Olympic idea [have] political and diplomatic value for the Greek state…"

Papachristou's expulsion is a blow to the Olympic ambitions of a country still reeling from a financial and currency crisis that has led to global embarrassment and threatened the stability of the euro.

Papachristou was one of 105 athletes in 16 sports on the Greek Olympic team.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Political Football: Greece Takes On Germany

Pixland/Thinkstock(GDANSK, Poland) -- Greece will wiggle itself out from under Germany’s boot heel for at least 90 minutes on Friday, as the international spotlight shifts from the Eurozone’s hottest fiscal feud to an unlikely European Championship quarter-final soccer match in Gdansk, Poland.

Victory against the heavily favored German side, with Chancellor Angela Merkel flying in from Berlin to support her squad, would make for a rare and glorious night in Austerity-blighted Athens.

Tabloids newspapers around the world spent the past four days chewing up the storyline.  

“Rejoice, dear Greeks,” wrote Germany’s Bild newspaper, “your bankruptcy on Friday is on us!”

“Bring us Merkel,” read a headline in Greece’s Goal News, “You will never get Greece out of the euro.”

Players from both sides have downplayed the political angle, with Greek striker Georgios Samaras (no relation to new Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras) calling the subplot “a bad thing,” and declaring his team was “going to play and enjoy it because we love it, nothing else.”

German manager Joachim Low sounded a similar note on Tuesday.

“Angela Merkel and the national teams are on very good terms,” he told reporters.  ”We have reached an agreement where she doesn’t interfere with my tactical instructions and, in return, I don’t deal with her political agenda.”

If only it were so simple.  While it’s a touch overwrought to say “soccer explains the world,” there should be little doubt that the sport has a way of synthesizing the politics of the moment and calling up the pain of generations’ past.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Greece Agrees on Coalition Government

Goodshoot/Thinkstock(ATHENS) -- After a few days of haggling, the Greeks have reached an agreement for a coalition government, the head of the country's socialist party, Evangelos Venizelos, said Wednesday.

The country swore in its new prime minister, Antonis Samaras, on Wednesday.

The coalition government consists of Samaras’ New Democracy party, the Socialist Pasok party, and the Democratic Left.

While the ushering in of a new government ends weeks of uncertainty in the region, there is no clear assurance that the transition will be able to provide Europe and the world with the economic stability they need.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


New Greek Ruling Party Works Fast to Form Coalition Government

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(ATHENS, Greece) -- With virtually no time to spare, the head of the New Democracy Party that won Greece's election on Sunday has begun trying to forge a coalition that will keep the country's fragile economy from total collapse.

Voters selected Antonis Samaras' party by a very narrow margin over a leftist bloc that wants to leave the eurozone and return to Greece's old currency.  Economists from around the globe maintained that that scenario would have spelled certain disaster for Greece and the rest of the world's economy.

Samaras should be able to get enough allies on his side to moderate terms of the bailout agreement that Greece reached with the European Union and the International Monetary Fund.

Where things go from there is anyone's guess, with some analysts already saying the point of no-return has already passed and the continent could soon be in the throes of a deep recession.

With Spain and Italy in similar straits, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has told Samaras that the new coalition must abide by its obligations and cannot go back on reform pledges previously made by Greece.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Obama: Greek Election ‘Positive Prospect’ for Cooperation

JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/GettyImages(LOS CABOS, Mexico) — President Obama Monday morning expressed approval for the results of the Greek election.

“I think the election in Greece yesterday indicates a positive prospect for not only them forming a government, but also them working constructively with their international partners in order that they can continue on the path of reform and do so in a way that also offers the prospects for the Greek people to succeed and prosper,” President Obama said today alongside Mexican President Felipe Calderon.

A senior White House official told ABC News that the president — and the world — breathed a sigh of relief upon hearing the election results, which meant the new Greek government will seek to stay in the Eurozone.

“And we are going to be working under your leadership and with our European partners, and with all countries,” Obama said, “to make sure that we’re contributing so that the economy grows, the situation stabilizes, confidence returns to the markets and, most importantly we’re giving our people the chance if they work hard to succeed and do well.”

“Obviously we are going to be very busy over the next day and a half,” the U.S. president said of the G-20 summit, adding that “the world is very concerned about the slowing of growth that has taken place.”

“Now is a time as we’ve discussed to make sure that all of us do what’s necessary to stabilize the world financial system, to avoid protectionism,” Obama said.  The summit will allow them to take “one important step in a series of steps that are going to be required to continue to improve global economic prospects.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Official Projections Show Conservative New Democracy Defeats Anti-Bailout Syriza

Hemera/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Greece's conservative New Democracy party defeated the leftist Syriza party in its Parliamentary elections on Sunday, official projections showed, results that are likely to ease global fears the country will leave the euro zone and disrupt world markets, the New York Times reports.

Neither party is expected to win enough votes in the 300-member Parliament to form a government, but official projections showed that New Democracy and and the socialist Pasok party would earn enough seats to form a coalition. Projections gave New Democracy 29.5 percent and 128 seats and Syriza, who vowed to repeal Greece's austerity measures, 27.1 percent and 72 seats. Pasok followed with 12.3 percent and 33 seats. Under Greek law, a coalition would need at least 151 seats to create a coalition, according to the Times.

New Democracy won the Greek elections on May 6, but had failed to form a government with its former opponents, the Socialists. The parties are under intense pressure now, however, to form a coalition as the country is expected to run out of money to meet expenses in July, the paper says.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Greece Syriza and New Democracy Parties Neck to Neck in Election 

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Preliminary exit polls in Greece show that the election is neck to neck, with the left-wing, anti-austerity Syriza party earning 27 to 30 percent of the votes, and the conservative New Democracy party earning 27.5 to 30.5 percent of the votes.

The parties are at odds over whether to continue with the tough European Union bailout deal, or reject it and boost social spending. Leaders fear a rejection of the bailout deal could devastate the euro and wreak havoc on the global economy.

Results are expected later on Sunday afternoon.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Greek Election Results Could Spur Global Financial Crisis

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(ATHENS, Greece) -- Greek voters may hold the future of global banks and the single currency euro in their hands when they head to the polls on Sunday for the country's Parliamentary election.

One of the two leading parties is opposed to the austerity measures placed on Greece in exchange for its financial bailout. Should the party gain control of the country's government, they could scrap the bailout and withdraw Greece from the euro, setting off a chain reaction that may lead to the failure of a number of banks worldwide.

The world's central banks are said to be standing ready to act in case of a financial crisis.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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