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Austrian report
by Euro Reporter
2012-06-12 09:20:25
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Austrian defence minister says military to use unarmed surveillance drones

Austria’s defence minister says his country plans to buy surveillance drones for use at home and abroad. Defence Minister Norbert Darabos says the drones could be used to help protect troops on foreign soil through surveillance as well as in case of natural catastrophes such as avalanches. He also says the unmanned aircraft may also be used to watch borders crossed by illegal immigrants but only if they do not violate “the private space” of individuals.

Darabos says the drones will not be armed. He spoke to reporters Monday in Eisenstadt, east of Vienna. The defence minister says his ministry plans to invest around 2 million Euros — about $2.5 million — in purchasing the drones. He did not say where they would be manufactured.


Austria banks engaged in stable Eastern European markets

Austrian banks' exposure to Eastern Europe is mostly in stable and growing markets, European Central Bank Governing Council member Ewald Nowotny said Wednesday. "As regards the exposure of Austria's banks, one must have a differentiated view of the CESEE (Central, Eastern and South-Eastern Europe)," said Mr. Nowotny, who is also Austria's central bank governor. "Our banks are mostly active in stable markets and also in markets with good growth prognoses for the next year."

His comments come the day after the rating agency Moody's downgraded Austria's three largest banks, Raiffeisen Bank International AG (RBI.VI), Erste Bank Group AG (EBS.VI) and UniCredit Bank Austria AG, a subsidiary of the Italian bank UniCredit S.p.A. (UCG.MI). Among the reasons Moody's gave for the downgrade was the risks involved in the Austrian banks' engagement in Central and Eastern Europe.

Mr. Nowotny said the downgrade should be considered in context of new ratings in the pan-European banking sector. "It is therefore not unexpected and one shouldn't give it too much weight," he said, adding that seven German banks were also downgraded.


Austria financial minister says now better prepared for Government default

Austrian Finance Minister Maria Fekter said Saturday "we are today incomparably better prepared for the default of a state than three years ago" due to new instruments. Fekter's remarks come amid growing fears that Greece might default and exit the euro zone if the country's leftist Syriza party should come to power after parliamentary elections scheduled for next month. The minister said in an interview with Austrian radio station Oe1 the European Union now has instruments such as the European Financial Stability Facility, the European Stability Mechanism, a much denser system of control, Europe-wide linked-up financial markets supervisors, Europe-wide rules for fiscal discipline and debt brakes in all countries. However, it can't be said if these measures are sufficient, she added.

"The Greeks have to decide themselves if they want to remain in the euro zone," Fekter said. The minister said fiscal consolidation in the euro zone should continue. "Generating growth with deficit spending is nonsense" and a "recipe from yesterday," she said. Fekter stressed she is against euro-zone bonds. "Euro bonds are only attractive for those dilapidated countries with high interest rates, which, so to speak, go to the neighbour which pays low interest rates and say, dear neighbour, please pay our debt," she said. Fekter said eurogroup Chairman Jean-Claude Juncker has a vision of a very coordinated economic and fiscal policy with a European finance minister at the end of the road.

"When we will be so integrated that we have a European finance minister, I could imagine that he will issue euro bonds," she said, but added she doesn't see this "in practice." "I can support the vision that it is possible that euro bonds make sense when one person is steering which debt is being incurred at which place, and who establishes stability in all areas, but now we are in a different situation," she said, "I don't want to pay the neighbours' debt." Fekter said the second aid program for Greece includes "a lot of money" together with agreements on consolidation, structural reforms and impulses for growth, and Greece has to implement these measures to return to the growth path. "Just taking the money and not doing anything isn't a promising way," she said. The agreements with Greece have been alleviated three times, but it is noncredible and it shakes confidence massively if we question the treaty every three months," she said.

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