April 15, 2013 |
ATHENS - International debt inspectors gave conditional approval Monday to an additional $13 billion in rescue aid for the beleaguered Greek government, but insisted that it cut thousands of civil service jobs as part of an effort to slash spending on the country's costly public sector. Lenders from Europe and the International Monetary Fund have pressed successive Greek governments to carry out mass layoffs since Athens signed up for its first bailout, worth $150 billion, three years ago. Despite widespread opposition, Greece's three-party coalition agreed to the plan over the weekend, acceding to the tough terms of a new multibillion-dollar bailout hammered out in December.
April 8, 2013 |
ATHENS - Fears concerning Greece's efforts to fix its faltering economy flared anew Monday as bank shares sank 30% -- the maximum allowed in a day -- after plans to merge the country's two biggest lenders were suddenly frozen. Investors dumped shares of the National Bank of Greece and Eurobank during the early hours of trading after both institutions confirmed late Sunday that their merger was off because of fears that the new combined entity would be too big to handle. The surprise freeze came amid testy talks between the government and international lenders from the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund, which together are keeping Greece afloat with a multibillion-dollar rescue package in exchange for strict fiscal reforms.
March 12, 2013 |
ATHENS - Last month, as millions of Greeks walked off their jobs to protest prolonged fiscal austerity measures, red-alert telephones jangled in the windowless inner sanctums of the country's navy headquarters in Athens. Green and orange blobs blinked boldly on radar screens; officers scrambled to the situation room, unsure how to respond. A 1,325-ton Turkish warship had strayed twice into Greek territorial waters, according to naval officials in Athens. In the past, officials said, it would have been met by an equal if not larger response.
February 6, 2013 |
ATHENS - Greece's embattled ruling coalition Wednesday forced striking seamen to return to work and restore suspended ferry services to dozens of Greek islands that have been cut off from the mainland, leading to food and medical shortages. The decision to issue an emergency "civil mobilization order" -- the second in two weeks -- signaled the government's resolve to soldier on with drastic austerity cuts and face down swelling labor unrest sparked by Greece's worst economic recession since World War II. On strike for six days, seamen are demanding payment of wages up to six months in arrears and collective contracts instead of the flat, uniform payment rates the government introduced recently as part of sweeping overhauls in labor regulations.
January 27, 2013 |
ISTANBUL, Turkey - As we sat on the Breeza, the open aft deck of the Azamara Quest, we watched the shadow line of the sunset climb the sheer, volcanic cliff above Skala, the tender landing area on the island of Santorini in the southern Aegean. It wasn't this iconic Greek island with dazzling white villas and churches that had lured my wife, Laurel, and me aboard this 10-night cruise from Istanbul to Athens. Rather, it was the chance to visit Black Sea ports in countries that were terrae incognitae to us, thus adding pages to our personal atlas.
January 20, 2013 |
ATHENS - Two security guards were injured in a bomb blast at a shopping center a few miles north of the Greek capital Sunday, stoking new fears of escalating violence and extremism in the economically stumbling nation. The attack on a state bank branch in a massive shopping mall came less than a week after masked men opened fire with an AK-47 and a revolver on the headquarters of the governing New Democracy party, targeting the office of its leader, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras.
January 17, 2013 |
ATHENS - Greek lawmakers voted Friday to launch a congressional investigation of allegations that former Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou tinkered with a list of suspected tax cheats, erasing the names of three of his relatives in the biggest tax-evasion scandal in decades. The 265-6 vote, with three abstentions and some invalid ballots, capped an explosive 14-hour parliamentary debate that kicked off Thursday and put the former political strongman and architect of the country's first austerity program at the center of a murky tale of coverups, intrigue and corruption.
December 31, 2012 |
ATHENS - Greece's ruling coalition on Monday called for a parliamentary probe into allegations that former Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou altered a list of more than 2,000 wealthy Greeks with Swiss bank accounts, deleting the names of three relatives. The move, petitioned by 71 lawmakers from the three-party governing alliance, follows a probe by judicial investigators who found evidence that Papaconstantinou acted in breach of faith and duty while handling a list of potential tax dodgers during his nearly two-year term at the helm of the Finance Ministry.