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by Euro Reporter
2012-08-18 12:20:12
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Merkel Mulls Easing Greece Bailout Terms

Chancellor Angela Merkel is considering easing Greece’s bailout terms, fanning tensions with members of her coalition who oppose giving the Greek government any more concessions, two German lawmakers said. Merkel’s government is torn between showing some leniency toward Greece as it struggles to meet the terms of its rescues and insisting that Prime Minister Antonis Samaras deliver on his promises, Klaus-Peter Willsch and Frank Schaeffler, both of whom have voted against Merkel’s euro crisis policies in parliament, said in separate telephone interviews.

“The sensitivities among many more than just the 27 coalition members who voted ‘no’ last time are well known” to Merkel, “so the official line is to stay tough” on Greece, said Willsch, a member of Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union party. “But at the same time, some are being sent forward to test the waters on how this tough line can be abandoned.”

Almost three years after the debt crisis erupted in Greece, Samaras’s government is awaiting a report by its international creditors next month on progress made in meeting bailout goals, an assessment that will determine whether Greece receives the next instalment of aid it needs to stay in the euro. Samaras, whose governing coalition in Athens wants its fiscal adjustment program to be extended by two years to the end of 2016, is due to visit Berlin on Aug. 24 for talks with Merkel.


Coca-Cola forced to apologise after erasing Greece from Olympic map

Coca-Cola, the Olympics longest-standing sponsor, was tonight forced to issue a grovelling apology after it deleted the birthplace of the Games, Greece, from a map displayed at the Olympic Park during London 2012. The omission has caused fury in Greece with hundreds of message boards condemning Coca-Cola, which has been associated with the Olympics since Amsterdam in 1928 and been a TOP sponsor since the programme was launched in 1986.

Coca-Cola has been the Presenting Partner of the official Olympic and Paralympic Pin Trading Centres since 1988 and it was in this role that it produced the map. The map, displayed at Pin Trading Centres on the Olympic Park and Hyde Park, did not show several countries, including Turkey, which is particularly embarrassing for a company whose chief executive, Muhtar Kent, is Turkish.

But it was the fact that it did not include Greece, the birthplace of the Olympics, which has proved the most controversial with insidethegames receiving several hundred comments today alone on the topic.


Schroeder reiterates calls for 'Greece-bashing' to stop

Former German chancellor Gerhard Schroeder has repeated calls for politicians in Germany to stop making negative comments about Greece. Schroeder accused FDP leader Phillip Roesler and other of trying to make political gains in Germany by victimizing Greece. “This is totally wrong, I hope Chancellor [Angela] Merkel will make it clear that this is not acceptable,” he said in an interview Germany’s ARD TV on Thursday.

“This stance is putting at risk Europe’s future and the Greeks do not deserve this treatment,” he added. On Wednesday, Schroeder urged Berlin to show more solidarity with Greece during an interview with the Greece’s state TV, NET.

"Germany has proven its solidarity» with Greece, «but I was hoping for more, » Schroeder said in comments from the south-eastern Greek island of Kos, where he said he was on holiday to show support for Greeks.”If Greece moves forward with its reforms, it must be given more time, » the former German leader added. Schroeder said the negative comments about Greece were «not conducive to the European idea and will not help the euro, » he said. «Above all, I hope that what I call Greece-bashing stops."


Greece rounds up immigrants despite criticism

Areas in Athens that earlier this year that were filled with immigrants -- both legal and illegal -- are nearly empty after a police roundup took place last week under the ironic code name Xenios Zeus, a Greek phrase for hospitality.  More than 8,000 immigrants were detained this month as Prime Minister Antonis Samaras sticks to a campaign pledge to empty Greece's cities of illegal foreigners, many who are from Africa, Asia and the Middle East. Many immigrants say they see themselves as scapegoats to detract attention from the country's floundering economy and the austerity measures that have put 1.15 million Greeks out of work. Many Greeks view immigrants as competition for jobs and blame them for a rise in crime. The sweep brought blistering criticism from human rights groups, but has been defended by police and the government that says it is overwhelmed with an influx of immigrants who use Greece to seek asylum or as a jumping-off point to get to other EU countries.

"We will not allow our towns, or our country, to be occupied and become a migrant ghetto," Public Order Minister Nikos Dendias said, as plans continued to build eight detention centers capable of holding up to 10,000 immigrants.  Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees said that police are profiling immigrants and treating them like criminals while subjecting them to inhumane conditions.  "Nobody says the country doesn't have the right to control migration, but what we're saying is to do it in line with international standards," Lia Gogou of Amnesty International told SETimes. "They are picking up people on the basis of their colour."

More than 2,000 police officers have been put into the sweep and 2,000 immigrants picked up were charged with being in the country illegally. The numbers of illegal immigrants has risen by 60 percent in the last two years, to about 470,000, according to the Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy. Immigrants, including those living in the country lawfully, make up as much as 10 percent of the population.  Compounding the problem is a sharp rise in attacks on immigrants, some of which the police have tied to the neo-Nazi group Golden Dawn, whose immigrant-bashing political platform earned it 18 seats in parliament. It has denied any involvement in the assaults.  Not everyone is critical. "Nobody knows how many illegal immigrants there really are and in the centre of Athens it was getting worse," Antonis Klapsis, head of research for the Konstandinos Karamanlis Foundation for Democracy, the think-tank of Samaras' ruling New Democracy party, said. Before the sweep, some areas such as Omonia Square, two blocks from City Hall, were overrun with drug dealing, prostitution and crime and filled with illegal immigrants. "There is pressure from the public for the government to do something … it's nice to talk about human rights but there people who have been mugged and are victims," of crime from immigrants, he said.

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Emanuel Paparella2012-08-18 15:09:44
Indeed, history is bunk, heritage is a stumbling block to progress and we need not remember our origins and our cultural identity, we have long transcended them, for we all drink Coca Cola now and we go to the games on Sunday. Aristotle and Cicero must be turning in their graves while exclaiming “O tempora, o mores!”

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