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Sunday, July 14, 2013

Greek economy in dire need of reforms

Greece is in need of radical reforms to its pension system if it is to cease being a burden on longer-term fiscal sustainability, and to prevent a rise in pension costs that would otherwise see these accounting for more than 20 per cent of GDP by 2050, warns the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). In ...

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Survey finds Greek public opinion divided over reforms public sector job cuts

ATHENS -- Greeks are split down the middle on whether public sector job cuts demanded by the country's international lenders for continued bailout funding are necessary and most remain downbeat on the economy's prospects, an opinion poll showed on ...

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From Greece to Germany Europeans see government failing on corruption

Municipal workers protest outside parliament during a rally against the public sector reforms and layoffs Greece has promised its international lenders, in Athens July 8. Residents in Greece and Spain have taken to the streets in anti-austerity protests aimed at both their governments and other members of the EU, most notably ...

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Greece Eyes TAP Gas Jackpot

(Photo/AFP) Greek Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras (C) signed the deal that will bring Azeri gas through Greece into Europe, which could prove a bonanza in revenues and jobs during a crushing economic crisis, just when the government needs a boost. ATHENS - For half a decade, Greece has become notorious for its dwindling fortunes. Its stubborn recession has broken postwar European records. Its ...

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New Greek bailout unveiled to contain debt crisis

President of European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso (R), President of European Council Herman Van Rompuy (C) and Greek Prime Minister Georgios Papandreou attend the press conference after the Eurozone Emergency Summit in Brussels, Capital of Belgium, July 21, 2011. Eurozone leaders Thursday agreed on a second bailout package for Greeece, with a total official financing of an estimated 109 ...

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Karamanlis and Papandreou?s Long-term Holidays

The two former Greek prime ministers, Costas Karamanlis and George Papandreou spend their holidays in opulent villas and suites, from plunging in the Aegean to trips abroad. Karamanlis, according to Proto Thema, traveled with his family around Southern Italy during the Easter vacations to Apulia, Calabria and Sicily. This was followed by a trip to Tinos in May where the entire family stayed at ...

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Greece picks Eurobank to acquire Postbank

GREECE'S bank rescue fund picked Eurobank to buy New Hellenic Postbank as part of consolidation in the sector and to meet a condition for the next tranche of Greece's bailout, it said after a board meeting on Saturday.

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Bring it on Home: Greece


Bring it on Home: Greece
STLtoday.com
Who and where • Tracy Leader and Bill Cate of Ballwin pose in Santorini, Greece. The trip • They booked a Greek Island cruise for seven days, making stops each day. Travel tip • Consider traveling in the spring or fall for comfortable temperatures ...


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Germany's Anti-Euro Party Is A Disaster

Angela Merkel

BERLIN (Reuters) - Just three months since its launch in a blaze of publicity, Germany's anti-euro party is failing to strike a chord with voters and is unlikely to fulfill predictions it will pose a threat to Chancellor Angela Merkel in September's election.

Despite recent developments in Greece and Portugal reviving fears of another flare-up in the euro crisis, polls show support for the Alternative fuer Deutschland (AfD) languishing around 2 percent, short of the 5 percent needed to enter parliament.

Broad public approval for Merkel's handling of the euro zone crisis and a pro-European political consensus combined with Germany's relative immunity to the problems means there is little appetite for an anti-euro party, pollsters and analysts say.

Led by a motley group of mainly academics and journalists, the AfD also lacks a charismatic figure in the style of Italy's Beppe Grillo, whose stunning electoral success this year gave hope to populist movements elsewhere. It has even suffered from a perception that some members have links to the far right.

"Things aren't bad enough for Germans to vote for an anti-euro party. Germany is doing alright, people aren't worried about their job or pension," said Carsten Koschmieder, a politics researcher at Berlin's Free University.

"There is simply no question mark over the currency itself in the election," he said. Like many other analysts, he sees the AfD scoring around 2 percent.

In stark contrast to other euro zone states where hostility to Europe is growing due to painful austerity measures and soaring youth unemployment, the crisis has had a limited effect on Europe's biggest economy.

German growth has slowed, but the jobless rate of 6.8 percent is close to 20-year lows and the biggest union has agreed an inflation-busting wage hike.

Most Germans are committed to the EU, and the main political parties agree keeping the euro is in the national interest.

"The euro was never popular in Germany and still isn't, but people are used to it and voters see no reason to vote for the AfD," said Manfred Guellner, head of the Forsa polling group.

In fact the euro crisis has not featured much in a campaign which has in the last couple of weeks been dominated by reports of intrusive surveillance methods employed by U.S. intelligence.

The problem for the pro-European Social Democrats (SPD) is that they cannot attack Merkel on European policy, including bailouts, because they agree with her.

Merkel's conservatives lead the SPD by up to 19 percentage points in polls. But it is unclear if she will be able to form another centre-right coalition with the Free Democrats (FDP) as their support has sunk to a third of its level in the 2009 vote.

RATTLED

Launched in April with the headline-grabbing policy of an "orderly dismantling of the euro", the AfD made waves at first.

The party briefly rattled some of Merkel's conservatives and some in the more euro-skeptical FDP and they denounced it as a group of scaremongers and populists. Yet the AfD has signed up 15,000 members and has 39,000 Facebook fans.

That may be tiny in an electorate of 62 million, but analysts say the party could still take votes from the conservatives and FDP, possibly even robbing the FDP of crucial points it needs to enter parliament and Merkel needs for another centre-right government.

A high profile catch came this month when it lured Internet activist Michaela Merz, a former FDP consultant, to its board.

"We're not a party that has been making policies for a long time, with party interests," she told Reuters. "I think it's important that experienced citizens, businessmen, professors also take part in politics," she said.

AfD leader Bernd Lucke, a conservative economics professor and father of five who works in Hamburg, is not perturbed by his poll ratings of about 3 percent, which he says is "not so bad".

"After all, lots of people don't know us yet. The campaign will change that," Lucke told Der Spiegel. "The euro crisis is very complicated and a sizeable portion of the population still follows the government.. That our arguments have not yet reached many people doesn't mean we are wrong," he said.

But to many, a posed photograph in Der Spiegel of Lucke with the deputy head of the radical Left party, with which it has little in common, smacked of desperation.

Lucke has also had to reject accusations that some supporters sympathize with the far right.

Outside the hotel where the party launched its program, newspapers popular with the right-wing militants were being handed out. One supporter hit the headlines with calls for unemployed people to sell their organs and another said people from the "very lowest class" should not be allowed to vote.

The stigma of subscribing to extreme views in Germany, haunted by its Nazi past, has alienated voters, say pollsters.

Many analysts say the AfD is doomed. For Germans, who above all fear instability, single-issue parties are anathema.

"They will not become a political force," said Guellner, who argued Germans want parties that are competent on a range of issues. He compared the AfD to the Pro-DM (deutsche mark) party, founded in 1998 to fight the introduction of the euro but which never gained much nationwide popular support.

Guellner said the AfD overestimated potential support from conservatives who in the end are usually loyal to their party.

"They haven't found the right, charismatic person to lead it - there isn't a Joerg Haider as they had in Austria. But there is latent potential for a populist party here, just not one that is made up of conservatives with Christian values," he said.

(Additional reporting by Natalia Drozdiak and Stephen Brown; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

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Families will keep shipping buoyant, says Greek tycoon


Families will keep shipping buoyant, says Greek tycoon
Financial Times
One of the Greek shipowners least scarred by the past five years' slump has said Greek families' sense for the market and passion for shipping will ensure they play an important future role, despite an influx of private equity money. George Logothetis ...


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The risks of a Greek collapse


Kathimerini

The risks of a Greek collapse
Kathimerini
A Greek “accident” is seen as very dangerous in such a climate. Of course there are those who expect Greece to fail, but argue that even if does, it will find a way to get back on its feet. The majority of international observers and officials, however ...


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George Logothetis Does What He Sees

George Logothetis speaking at the 2013 commencement exercises to the graduates of the American College of Greece in Athens. He's a man of action, not just vision. A few years ago I organized a dinner at the Plaza Hotel in New York City. I wanted to share my continued vision for the organization I founded, the Greek America Foundation, and talk about how the bridge between Greece can be ...

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Showdown Week For Samaras Shaky Coalition

(AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris) Striking municipal police officers clap hands during a July 12, 203 protest against new austerity cuts that will affect scores of thousands of public sector workers. ATHENS - Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras' uneasy coalition government, made up of his New Democracy Conservatives and their otherwise rivals the PASOK Socialists, is bracing for an onslaught ...

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Greece facing more difficult times: Angela Merkel


Press TV

Greece facing more difficult times: Angela Merkel
Press TV
Greece has been at the epicenter of the eurozone debt crisis and is experiencing its sixth year of recession, while harsh austerity measures have left about half a million people without jobs. On July 8, Eurozone finance ministers decided to release 6 ...


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Business News Greece push to sell Postbank


Business News Greece push to sell Postbank
Gulf Daily News
ATHENS: Greece's bank rescue fund picked Eurobank to buy New Hellenic Postbank as part of consolidation in the sector and to meet a condition for the next tranche Greece's bailout, it said after a board meeting yesterday. Athens agreed with its euro ...


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Greece shuts the doors for Syrian refugees

Syrian refugees, driven out of their country by the war, are trying to cross the Turkish-Greek border to seek asylum in the European Union. It is obvious that Greece cannot accept all those in need, therefore, the Greek authorities take a tough stance with respect to illegal immigrants. However, people still flee, drowning in the Aegean Sea and in the Maritsa River at the border with Turkey. A ...

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Schaeuble Brokers Greek Investment Deal

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, a hardliner who insists Greece stick to harsh austerity measures in return for bailouts – much of them funded by his country – will be in Athens on July 18 and is to sign an agreement for government-owned development bank KfW to provide capital for the creation of an investment fund in Greece. The fund, set to be called the Institution for ...

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Stournaras Sets Sights On Surplus

Dismissing burgeoning black holes in the economy because of setbacks in privatization and debt in the state health insurer EOPYY that could add up to more than two billion euros ($2.6 billion) Greek Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras said his only goal is to create a primary surplus by the end of the year, whatever it takes. He didn’t say if that means Greece will stop paying its bills ...

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Greece Puts Railways Up For Bid


Greece Puts Railways Up For Bid
Greek Reporter
trainose_390_1207 Still reeling from setbacks in its lagging privatization program, Greece has invited bids on its notoriously-inefficient and antiquated state-operated railway operator Trainose, the Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund (HRADF) said.


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Newlyweds marry Greek and Lebanese traditions


Tampabay.com

Newlyweds marry Greek and Lebanese traditions
Tampabay.com
Zeina grew up a Melkite Catholic, praying the same Byzantine blessings, sacraments and hymns in Arabic as George does as a member of the Greek Orthodox Church. The anise-flavored drink she calls arak he calls raki. The steps to the folk dance she calls ...


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Steve Mariotti: An Entrepreneur in Venice: An Interview With Mario Costra

Like both his grandfather and father before, Mario Costra has spent the past 20 years navigating the watery streets of Venice on his gondola.

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Erdo?an's chief adviser knows what's behind Turkey's protests ? telekinesis

From Lufthansa to the CIA, Turkey's government has come up with some worrying conspiracy theories to explain Gezi Park

It has to be said that when the Turkish government began to flail around for the "real reasons" behind the Gezi protests, their initial conspiracy theories lacked imagination – the CIA, Europeans jealous of their economic success, unspecified foreign forces in cahoots with terrorists, Twitter, the "interest rate lobby", and, of course, the international Jewish conspiracy. What would a search for a scapegoat be in Turkey (or indeed Greece) without our old friends the Elders of Zion?

Since it was obviously inconceivable that the Turkish people themselves – knowing they were living through a golden age of good governance, piety and profit – would ever take to the streets, there must have been a plot.

Well now we have the answer – it was all a giant telekinetic attack by dark forces to discredit Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, because he had made Turkey a "model for the world". Quite rightly, the man who made this astonishing discovery, Yiğit Bulut, has just been made Erdoğan's chief adviser. No, this is not a joke. Telekinesis, you may have noticed, is a Greek word.

Ministers, and the majority of Turkey's media, have been outdoing each other for the last month with outrageous theories and often outright lies to mask Erdoğan's staggering mishandling of a minor planning dispute over an Istanbul park that brought millions on to the streets in protest at his authoritarian style and police violence against demonstrators.

His ruling AK party has variously claimed that the Gezi protests were the work of CNN or the BBC and even Reuters (after one of the agency's reporters asked Erdoğan an "unapproved question"). In one faked newspaper interview, CNN's Christiane Amanpour "confessed" to starting the protests "for money". Fingers were also pointed at leading liberal journalists, some of whom have since been sacked by media owners afraid of incurring further government wrath (Turkey is already the world's No 1 jailer of journalists).

More shocking even than the smearing of those killed by police is that Erdoğan's AK party – once a slick media machine – can still not put a consistent conspiracy story together. It has to be said that Egypt's military coup has not helped the mood of Turkish Islamists – or that in a self-fulfilling prophecy amid so much nuttiness, Turkish bond rates have near doubled in as many months.

What all the many theories lacked – apart from facts, which would "be shortly announced" but never were – was a protean element: something that would lift the whole puzzling debacle of Erdoğan thrashing his own and his country's reputation over a scraggy patch of grass out of the rational altogether and into another dimension.

Step forward Bulut – TV presenter, commentator, and climber of many greasy poles – who until Gezi was best known for his inordinate use of hair oil. Having got his astral ball rolling by declaring that the protests were paid for by the German airline Lufthansa, afraid that "100 million passengers would be diverted from Germany to Turkey" by a controversial monster airport Erdoğan wants to build near Istanbul, Bulut then took flight.

Turkey's enemies, he claimed, were planning to assassinate Erdoğan – by telekinesis. "There is work going on in many centres in the world to kill Erdoğan from afar through methods like telekinesis," Bulut told TV viewers last month. This week Bulut became Erdoğan's official eminence grise.

Utterly mad it may sound, but there may be method to it – a message to diehard religious supporters that Erdoğan's erratic, confrontational behaviour may be because he is engaged in a life-or-death struggle behind the scenes.

Should Turks be worried? They should if this offers a glimpse of Erdoğan's own state of mind. At a mass rally in Istanbul at the height of the protests, he compared himself to Adnan Menderes, the first elected Turkish leader who was hung by the military on a short rope on the prison island where the PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan is now held.

Since then, rather than building bridges, Erdoğan has been busy tightening his grip and settling scores – the latest being robbing engineers and architects who so irritated him over Gezi Park of their overseeing role in planning.

Yet in reality the greatest danger to Erdoğan has always been Erdoğan himself and the company he keeps – from his property tycoon son-in-law to his old Kasimpaşa pals who go everywhere with him and once locked him inside his armoured Mercedes outside a hospital when he passed out during Ramadan. Only five years ago his new chief adviser was attacking him and his party as a "fascist" threat to Atatürk's secular republic. As a hopeless nostalgic for the Ottoman empire, Erdoğan might be wise to remember that far more sultans died at the hands of their retainers than ever did in battle.


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Elytis? Works Exhibited In Plaka

Manuscripts, working notebooks, rare photographs, film and sound material and paintings from the personal archives of Nobel Laureate poet Odysseus Elytis will be housed and exhibited in a building in Plaka, Athens. The two floor building on the corner of Dioskouroi and Polygnotou roads will be called Elytis' House and will include accurate representation of the office of the Greek poet and ...

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Troika Wants Greece To Cut Priests? Pay

The Greek government is being squeezed by international lenders to slash the salaries of about 9,500 priests to meet demands from international lenders to keep reducing expenditures, which could lead to resistance from the Church and clerics. There is no separation of Church and State in Greece. According to a report in the newspaper Parapolitika, representatives of the lenders revived the ...

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Man kills father injures relative in Volos

Police in Nea Ionia, in Volos, central Greece, on Saturday arrested a 53-year-old man for allegedly stabbing his 85-year-old father to death as well as injuring another relative, aged 57, with a knife.According to police reports the suspect had mental ...

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Traffic restrictions lifted in central Athens

As of Monday traffic restrictions in the inner ring of the Greek capital are being suspended for the summer.Normally, only vehicles with license plates ending in an odd number are allowed to enter the central Athens zone on odd days, while those with even numbers are allowed on even days.The restrictions are expected to come back into effect in early ...

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Mandatory HIV tests blasted by British journal

Respected medical journal The Lancet published an editorial on Saturday criticizing the Greek government for reintroducing a regulation that gives authorities the right to force people that may be carrying infectious diseases to undergo tests and ...

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Schaeuble to sign investment deal in Athens

During his visit to Athens next Thursday, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble is to sign an agreement for government-owned development bank KfW to provide capital for the creation of an investment fund in Greece, Kathimerini understands.The fund, set to be called the Institution for Growth in Greece, will have initial capital of 500 million euros. Of this, 350 million euros will come from ...

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Greek Cypriot leader seeks more EU aid

The cost of bailing out Greek Cypriot Administration has exceeded estimations. Greek Cypriot leader Nicos Anastasiades asked for more money from Brussels ahead of a key meeting by Eurozone finance ministers.European Union finance ministers adopted a 10 billion Euro bailout package for the Greek Cypriot Administration. According to the EU sources, the Greek Cypriot leader asked the Bloc to provide ...

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Greek mayors to shut down city halls next week

Mayors across Greece have voted to shut down their city governments for three days next week ahead the parliament's vote on a series of fiscal reform bills. The Central Union of Municipalities of Greece met in Athens Friday and agreed to shut down city halls starting Monday to urge the parliament not to pass the measures, which are connected to the stiff reforms Greece agreed to as part of ...

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