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Greek report
by Euro Reporter
2012-05-23 07:43:35
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Greece’s Tsipras appeals to German taxpayers for help in crisis

Greece’s Syriza party leader Alexis Tsipras appealed to German taxpayers to help Greece grapple with economic and fiscal crisis. “Until when should German taxpayers pay into a bottomless pit?” Tsipras said to reporters in Berlin today after he held talks with leaders of Germany’s anti-capitalist Left Party. “It apparently flows to the Greek economy, but in reality only the banks and bankers are being financed.”

Tsipras, whose Syriza party was leading in a poll released three days ago of voting intentions for June 17 elections, has pledged to rip up the terms of Greece’s rescue and call a halt to the austerity measures agreed with international creditors and championed by German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Tsipras said that he is in Germany to press for a common solution to Greece, now in its fifth year of a deep economic recession. It is in Germany’s interest to change the policy of austerity, he said.

“The euro zone doesn’t have an owner, or a landlord,” he said. “We are not tenants; we are equal partners, and none of us should feel like tenants.” The exit of one euro member state would foreshadow the departure of others as “the market will begin to seek out other countries to be next,” Tsipras said, citing states such as Italy with “much bigger debts.”

“No political leadership would want to take responsibility for this,” he said. For Greeks, voting for Syriza “doesn’t mean that we’ll be kicked out of the euro,” he said. “It will mean a great opportunity for us to save the euro.” A victory for Syriza would mean stability for Greece, whereas insisting on a continuation of the “catastrophic” austerity measures means a return to the drachma, Tsipras said. “It’s not a matter of needing more money,” he said. “What we need is that the money that has been committed is properly invested.” Tsipras said that he sought talks with Merkel as part of contacts “with all sides of the political spectrum.” No German ministers were planning to meet with Tsipras during his visit to Berlin, government spokesman Georg Streiter said yesterday. “Maybe those who are afraid of dialog have a bad conscience,” he said.


Greece worries hammer home amid gloomy forecast

Political and financial uncertainty in Greece saw shares on the Athens Stock Exchange drop to their lowest level in 22 years on Tuesday, despite broad gains in European markets, after the crisis-hit country got another gloomy growth forecast. The exchange's general index dropped 1.84 percent to 534.55, slightly lower than the 1990 annual average, in late afternoon trading.

Greek shares have lost nearly 90 percent of their value since 2008, when the recession began. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, issuing its global economic outlook Wednesday, predicted that Greece's gross domestic product would shrink 5.3 percent this year and a further 1.3 percent in 2013 — worse that EU predictions.


Greece's right patch up differences ahead of poll

Faced with the rise of the left in the run-up to a June 17 election crucial for Greece's future in the eurozone, parties on the right are trying to settle old differences and form a common front. Alexis Tsipras, leader of the radical leftwing party Syriza, is currently on a high-profile visit to France and Germany, building on the momentum which saw his party comes second in an inconclusive May 6 vote. Opinion polls put Syriza -- which rejects the austerity measures Athens agreed to in return for a second EU-IMF debt rescue package -- among the frontrunners with up to 24 percent support in the repeat election next month. The pro-bailout conservative New Democracy party of Antonis Samaras, which witnessed a voter backlash this month, is now leading the charge against Syriza as the new poll turns into a straight vote on Greece's future in the euro bloc.

On Monday, New Democracy announced that the liberal Democratic Alliance, formed by party dissidents in 2010, was returning to the fold. "The time has come to set aside our differences," said Democratic Alliance leader Dora Bakoyannis, a former conservative foreign minister and the first woman mayor of Athens. "We have decided to unite our forces," said Bakoyannis, who was kicked out in May 2010 when she voted against austerity and reform measures tied to a first EU-IMF debt rescue which proved inadequate to keep Greece afloat. Bakoyannis, the daughter of former conservative Prime Minister Constantine Mitsotakis, mounted an unsuccessful bid for the party leadership in 2009. "The times are critical and for this reason, differences of the past are set aside," Samaras said, standing with Bakoyannis for the first time in two years.

"It is with pleasure that I welcome Bakoyanni's decision... our message is now stronger," he said. In an editorial, the centre-right Kathimerini said the ND "will have to carry the weight of the battle that will keep Greece in the eurozone". Bakoyannis's decision is "the right one and will prove helpful at this difficult time. It makes no sense... as was the case in the past, for selfish considerations and personal aspirations (to get in the way)," it said. Samara, who has warned that the June poll will "determine whether Greece will remain in Europe," has made a "responsible and brave decision," it added. The Democratic Alliance garnered 2.55 percent in the May 6 vote, short of the 3.0 percent threshold required for parliamentary representation. Two other small parties on the right -- New Creation and Action, which won 2.15 percent and 1.8 percent respectively -- said they too were joining forces in an effort to peg back Syriza. They made no immediate comment on a possible pact with ND but said they will hold a press conference later Tuesday on their alliance. In the past few days, Samaras has wooed several prominent lawmakers from the nationalist Laos party, which also failed to win seats.

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