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Friday, September 23, 2011

Greece and Greek News

Country Profile

Greece officially the Hellenic Republic and historically Hellas is a country in Southern Europe.

Greece, which comes from Latin Graecia as used by the Romans and literally means 'the land of the Greeks'

Greece consists of 13 Regions subdivided into a total of 325 Municipalities.

80% of Greece consists of mountains or hills, making the country one of the most mountainous in Europe.

Capital                                             Athens

Currency                                          Euro

Official Language                              Greek

Population                                        12 Million(2011 Estimate)



In 1924 Greeks vote for abolition of the monarchy in a referendum and the Second Hellenic Republic was declared.

In 1935 Georgios Kondylis(Aug 14,1878 - Feb 01,1936)a General of Greek Army and Prime Minister of Greece,took power in 1935 and effectively abolished the republic by bringing back the monarchy in a referendum.

In 1952 New constitution declares Greece a Parliamentary Democracy with a Monarch as Head of State.

In 1967 Group of army officers seize power in military coup. Elections are postponed indefinitely and Georgios Papadopoulos takes office as Prime Minister.

In 1973 Greece declared a Republic, the Monarchy is abolished and Georgios Papadopoulos assumes the Presidency.The current Third Hellenic Republic was declared in 1974 after the end of the Regime of the Colonels which had controlled Greece since the coup d'état of April 21,1967.

Politics and Government

Greece is a Parliamentary Representative Democratic Republic where the President of Greece is the Head of State who is elected by the Parliament for a five-year term and a maximum of two terms in office. 


Karolos Papoulias is the current President of Greece in office from March 12,2005(sworn in as the 7th President of the Third Hellenic Republic on March12, 2005, succeeding Konstantinos Stephanopoulos and was re-elected to a 2nd and final term on  Feb 03, 2010)


Prime Minister of Greece is the Head of Govt and of a Multi Party System. The President appoints the PM who will be approved by a majority of the Parliament's members (i.e. 151 votes)

 Parliament of Greece


The Greek Parliament has 300 members, elected for a four-year term by a system of reinforced proportional representation  in 48 multi-seat constituencies, 8 single-seat constituencies and a single nationwide list. 288 of the 300 seats are determined by constituency voting, and voters may select the candidate or candidates of their choice by marking their name on the party ballot. The remaining 12 seats are filled from nationwide party lists on a top-down basis and based on the proportion of the total vote each party received .


 Greece Debt Crisis - What went wrong in Greece?

1)Greece's economic reforms, which led to it abandoning the drachma as its currency in favour of the euro in 2002, made it easier for the country to borrow money

2)Greece went on a big, debt-funded spending spree, including paying for high-profile projects such as the 2004 Athens Olympics, which went well over its budget

3)The country was hit by the downturn, which meant it had to spend more on benefits and received less in taxes.Widespread tax evasion also hit the government's coffers.Greece's economic problems meant lenders started charging higher interest rates to lend it money.

4)There have been demonstrations against the government's austerity measures to deal with its debt, such as cuts to public sector pay and pensions, reduced benefits and increased taxes.
5)The EU, IMF and European Central Bank agreed 229bn euros ($300bn; £190bn) of rescue loans for Greece. Prime Minister George Papandreou quit in November 2011 after trying to call a referendum.
6)Under Prime Minister Lucas Papademos, Greece is trying to negotiate a big write-off of private debts and secure a second bail-out of 130bn euros ($170bn, £80bn) before  March20,2012 deadlin

Factors Contributing to the Crisis
  • Greece went on a big, debt-funded spending spree, including paying for high-profile projects such as the 2004 Athens Olympics, which went well over its budget.The Greek government borrowed heavily and went on something of a spending spree after it adopted the euro.Public spending soared and public sector wages practically doubled in the past decade.
  • The country was hit by the downturn, which meant it had to spend more on benefits and received less in taxes.Greece's economic problems meant lenders started charging higher interest rates to lend it money. Widespread tax evasion also hit the government's coffers.
  • The country suffers from high levels of political and economic corruption and low global competitiveness compared to its EU partners.
  • After 15 consecutive years of economic growth, Greece went into recession in 2009.
  • By the end of 2009, the Greek economy faced the highest budget deficit(15.4% of GDP) and government debt to GDP ratios in the EU.(127% of GDP in 2009)
  • As a result of the on-going economic crisis, industrial production in the country went down by 8% between March 2010 and March 2011.
  • Between 2009 and 2011 unemployment skyrocketed, from 10.3% in 2009 to 16.2% on March 2011 leaving more than 800,000 unemployed.
  • Greece has more than 340bn euros of debt - for a country of 11 million people, about 31,000 euros per person.
  • On 23 April 2010, the Greek government requested that the EU/IMF bailout package (made of relatively high-interest loans) be activated.The EU and IMF have agreed 229bn euros of rescue loans for Greece plus a 50% cut in its debts.

  • In 2010 the debt crisis was mostly centered on events in Greece, where the cost of financing government debt was rising. On 2 May 2010, the Eurozone countries and the IMFagreed to a €110 billion loan for Greece, conditional on the implementation of harsh austerity measures.

  • The €110 billion bailout granted by the EU and IMF in May 2010 may not be enough, and Socialist Prime Minister George Papandreou is pushing through tough new austerity measures – much to the displeasure of millions of Greek citizens who have taken to the streets over the past months.

  • Moody's Investors Service downgraded Greece's credit rating Monday by three notches, leaving it just one above a default rating.

  • Figures released after the emergency eurozone summit on September 22,2011 Thursday indicate that the new deal, which includes a 159-billion-euro bailout for Greece, will allow the country to shave €26 billion off its debt load by 2014.


Greece Austerity Protests - October 5,2011

About 16,000 protesters converged in the Greek capital, and a crowd of about 10,000 gathered in the northern city of Thessaloniki, as Greek civil servants walked off the job on a 24-hour strike Wednesday, paralyzing the public sector in a protest over ever-deeper austerity measures.


Demonstrators gather during a peaceful rally outside the Greek Parliament in Athens, on Sunday, June 5, 2011. Thousands of protesters have gathered for a 12th consecutive day to protest at fiscal austerity measures and demand that Greece stop paying its debtors. They have also denounced politicians of all stripes as incompetent and corrupt


Tens of thousands Greeks rallied in central Athens on Sunday to denounce politicians, bankers and tax dodgers, as the government prepared to inflict another bout of austerity demanded by its international lenders.

A protester throws a stone at riot police in front of the Greek parliament during minor clashes in Athens, Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2011        


With 20,000 public sector workers in the streets of Athens and police lobbing tear gas at protestors in the latest clashes over spending cuts, the IMF on Wednesday urged Europe to balance growth with austerity


A passenger carries his luggage at Eleftherios Venizelos airport during a 24-hour general strike in Athens on Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2011. Greek civil servants walked off the job on a 24-hour strike, paralyzing the public sector in a protest over ever-deeper austerity measures applied as the government struggles to avoid a catastrophic default. Air traffic controllers joined the strike, grounding all flights to and from Greek airports.


A passenger walks at the empty Eleftherios Venizelos airport during a 24-hour general strike in Athens, Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2011



24-hour railway strike, in Athens , Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2011





Greece relies on a C110 billion ($145 billion) package of international bailout loans since May 2010, but it has slipped on meeting budget targets required to qualify for the funds. The country is suffering through a deep recession, with the economy expected to contract 5.5 per cent this year, and unemployment has spiralled to above 16 per cent as businesses have closed down. 

Debt inspectors from the International Monetary Fund, European Central Bank and European Commission, known as the troika, suspended their review of Greek reforms last month amid talk of delays on Athens meeting its budget deficit targets and implementing reforms.
The government hurriedly announced another series of austerity measures, including an extra property tax, and put into motion plans to suspend civil servants.
The troika returned to Athens after the announcements and are currently negotiating measures for 2013 and 2014.
To persuade the troika to release the next tranche of loans, Greece has promised to raise taxes, cut state wages and speed up plans to reduce the number of public sector workers by a fifth by 2015.
Greece needs the next batch of loans, worth Euro 8 billion ($10.5 billion), to avoid bankruptcy says Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos on Tuesday.
Angry protesters blockaded Greek ministries on Tuesday despite appeals from the finance minister for the public to rally around the tough measures the Athens government needs to achieve fiscal targets and avert default on its colossal debt.

The 2012 draft budget approved by cabinet on Sunday predicts a deficit of 8.5 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) for 2011, well short of the 7.6 percent target.The shortfall in the 2011 deficit target means Greece would need almost 2 billion extra euros just to finance its expenses for this year.

Angry and frustrated, Greek civil servants walked off the job Wednesday, paralyzing the government and public transport to protest ever-deeper austerity measures and seemingly ineffectual financial policies. Air traffic controllers joined the 24-hour strike, grounding all flights to and from Greek airports. State hospitals were running on emergency staff, while lawyers, teachers and tax officers also didn’t work. Public transport employees were holding work stoppages in the morning and evening, and state television and radio pulled news programs off the air


 A Greek Army official is seen behind the closed shutters of the Defense Ministry during an anti-austerity protest by Greek Army veterans in Athens Thursday, Oct. 6, 2011. Retired army officers demonstrated outside the defense ministry over pension cuts

A Greek Army veteran stands at the entrance to the Defense Ministry, holding a placard reading: "I want my country back - betrayers", during an anti-austerity protest in Athens Thursday, Oct. 6, 2011


A 55-year-old man sets himself ablaze(was hospitalized for chest burns) outside a bank in Thessaloniki,Greece, after being refused a renegotiation of overdue loan payments for his home and business - September 16,2011


2-Day General Strike Shuts Down Greece

A two-day general strike that unions(both public and private sector unions are backing) vow will be the largest in years grounded flights, disrupted public transport and shut down everything from shops to schools in Greece on Wednesday October 19,2011 as at least 50,000 protesters converged in central Athens.All sectors, from dentists, state hospital doctors and lawyers to shop owners, tax office workers, pharmacists, teachers and dock workers walked off the job ahead of a Parliamentary vote Thursday October20,2011on new austerity measures.

 Demonstrators push a metallic police barrier outside the Greek Parliament

 An anti-austerity rally in Athens' Syntagma (Constitution) square where an estimated 70,000 people marched on Wednesday October 19,2011 protesting against the government’s latest round of austerity measures


Strikes Paralyze Athens Amid Violent Clashes


















 PM George Papandreou Resigns - Nov 10,2011


George Papandreou became the 182nd PM of Greece on October 6,2009( was the 3rd member of the Papandreou family to serve as the country's PM Following his grandfatherGeorgios Papandreou  and his father Andreas Papandreou) Papandreou has been leader of the PASOK Party since February 2004

Papandreou assuming office of thee government revealed that its finances were far worse than previous announcements, with a budget deficit of 12.7% of GDP, four times more than the eurozone's limit, and a Public Debt  of $410 billion

Papandreou's announcement only served to worsen the severe crisis the Greek economy was undergoing, with an unemployment rate  of 10% and the country's debtrating being lowered to BBB+, the lowest in the eurozone

Papandreou responded by austerity measures -

reducing spending,

increasing taxes, 

freezing additional taxes and introducing measures aimed at combatting rampant tax evasion and 

reducing the country's Public Sector

The austerity measures caused a wave of nationwide strikes and has been criticised by both the EU and the eurozone nations

In May 2011 in an opinion poll  77% of the people asked said they have no faith in Papandreou as Prime Minister in handling the Greek Economic Crisis

In June 2011George Papandreou and his government narrowly survived a 'vote of confidence' in the Greek Parliament securing 155 of the 300 seats

On Oct 31,2011 Papandreou announced his government's intentions to hold a referendum( to be held in December 2011 or January 2012) for the acceptance of the terms of a Eurozone bailout deal.However, on Nov 3,201 Papandreou scrapped the plan following vehement opposition both within and outside the country

On Nov5,2011Papandreou government narrowly won a 'Confidence Vote' in parliament

On Nov6,2011 Papandreou met with opposition leaders to try to reach an agreement on the formation of an interim govt.Butthe opposition parties rejected the proposal and called for an immediate election

On Nov10,2011 George Papandreou formally resigned as PM of Greece

Lucas Papademos sworn in as PM to lead Greek cabinet -11.11.11

Lucas Papademos replace George Papandreou, who led the previous Socialist administration that fell apart last week.The appointment of Papademos, who has never been elected to any public office but is considered one of Europe's foremost experts in macroeconomics.Politicians, pundits, economists, business and industry leaders all expressed the belief that Papademos was the ideal person to navigate the country away from the shores of economic disaster.


PM Lucas Papademos(US-educated economist and former European Central Bank vice-president) took office on Friday 11.11.11 and at the colourful swearing-in ceremony, black-robed Orthodox priests, led by the Archbishop of Athens, blessed Papademos heading interim three-party coalition and a cabinet dominated by the two main parties on the crisis coalition - Conservative New Democracy Party and Far Right Laos Party.

The interim government of national unity, which has a bumper 48 ministers and their deputies, plans to announce its platform on Monday evening, then conduct a debate and win a confidence vote in parliament by early next week.
It has a clear mandate that may not be so simple to implement before it calls elections, tentatively agreed for February 19,2012.

The interim government of national unity wins confidence vote -Wednesday16.11.2011

The new interim government comfortably won a vote of confidence securing 255 votes in the 300-seat Parliament.


A crippling general strike and street protests by hundreds of thousands of Greeks marked the second anniversary of the eurozone debt crisis on Thursday December 01,2011.

 Austerity Bill Approved As Athens Burns


Greece needs the international funds before March 20 to meet debt repayments of 14.5 billion euros, or suffer a chaotic default which could shake the entire euro zone.The austerity measures have been demanded by the EU, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the European Central Bank (ECB) - the so-called Troika - as a condition for handing over a further loan.

Greece's Parliament approved a deeply unpopular austerity bill on Monday Feb13,2012 to secure a second EU/IMF bailout and avoid national bankruptcy, as buildings burned across central Athens and violence spread around the country. The bill sets out 3.3 billion euros ($4.35 billion) of extra budget cuts for this year alone.It also provides for a bond swap to ease Greece's debt burden by cutting the real value of private-sector investors' bond holdings by some 70 percent.

The austerity measures include:
  • 15,000 public-sector job cuts
  • liberalisation of labour laws
  • lowering the minimum wage by 20% from 751 euros a month to 600 euros

Altogether 199 of the 300 lawmakers backed the bill, but 43 deputies from the two parties in the government of Prime Minister Lucas Papademos, the socialists and conservatives, rebelled by voting against. They were immediately expelled by their parties.

Cinemas, cafes, shops and banks were set ablaze in central Athens and black-masked protesters fought riot police outside Parliament before lawmakers voted on the package that demands deep pay, pension and job cuts - the price of a 130 billion euro($170bn£110bn)bailout needed to keep the country afloat. 

State television reported the violence spread to the tourist islands of Corfu and Crete, the northern city of Thessaloniki and towns in central Greece.

 Police said 150 shops were looted in the capital and 34 buildings set ablaze.

Greece had already previously agreed to far-reaching austerity measures

Taxes will increase by 3.38bn euros in 2013, following a 2.32bn euro increase in 2011.The increase includes a solidarity levy of between 1% and 5%, a cut in the tax-free threshold, a rise in VAT rates, and luxury taxes on yachts, pools and cars.

Some 30,000 public sector workers are to be suspended, wage bargaining will be suspended, and monthly pensions of above 1,000 euros cut by 20%.In the public sector, pay will be cut and many bonuses scrapped.

The government also aimed to raise about 50bn euros by 2020 from privatisations by selling land, utilities, ports, airports and mining rights

Eurozone ministers cancel meeting on Greece bailout

Eurozone finance ministers cancelled Wednesday Feb 15,2012 special meeting in Brussels on Greece's €130bn bailout as Athens scrambled to provide proof that it was capable of making a further €325m (£270m) in budget cuts.

Greece's hopes for quick bailout agreement dashed

The German parliament has to support the bailout and will not debate it until 27 Feb27,2012.

Eurozone finance ministers met last week, postponed a Greek decision, delivered an ultimatum to Athens on what it had to do, and called another meeting for Wednesday Feb15,2012 which was now cancelled.

Eurozone approves bailout for Greece

Eurozone finance ministers have reached an agreement on a second bailout for Greece worth 130 billion euros (172 billion dollars), diplomats in Brussels said early Tuesday Feb21,2012 after more than 12 hours of negotiations

The deal details of which were still being worked out by European finance ministers in an all-night session in Brussels was expected to bring Greece’s debt down to 120.5 percent of gross domestic product by 2020 
The country needs the 130 billion ($170 billion) bailout so it can move ahead with a related 100 billion ($130 billion) debt relief deal with private investors. That deal needs to be in place quickly if Athens is to avoid a disorderly default on a bond repayment on March 20,2012.

2012 Greece Parliamentary Election -Sunday May 06,2012 

 250 seats will be distributed on the basis of proportional representation, with a threshold of 3% for entry into parliament. The other 50 seats will be awarded to the party or coalition that wins a plurality of votes, according to the Election Law. Parliamentary majority is achieved by a party or coalition of parties that command at least one half plus one (151 out of 300) of total seats.

32 Parties are vying for the support of nearly 10 million Registered Voters.

PASOK — which won a landslide victory in 2009 with 43.92 percent and George Papandreou at its helm — has seen its support collapse over the past two years. Opinion polls projected it to win between 14.5 and 19 percent, which would be the lowest since November 1974.

Prime Minister Lucas Papademos, a technocrat who has headed a PASOK and New Democracy coalition that has governed the country since Nov 2011.

Opinion polls ahead of the vote indicated the leading party would be New Democracy, headed by Antonis Samaras — who has insisted he will not enter into another coalition with his socialist rivals.

Greece Parliamentary Election Result

Vote% Seats
New Democracy 18.85% 108
Syriza 16.78% 52
Pasok 13.18% 41
Independent Greeks 10.6% 33
KKE (Communist) 8.48% 26
Golden Dawn 6.97% 21
Democratic Left 6.11% 19
Turnout 65.1%
With nearly all votes counted from the May 6,2012 parliamentary elections, Greece's two governing pro-austerity parties have lost their majority

New Democracy Party led by Antonis Samaras got 18.85% Votes and 108 seats

Coalition of the Radical Left(SYRIZA)  led by Alexis Tsipras got 16.78% Votes and 52 seats

Syriza, is an anti-austerity coalition of leftist parties

Panhellenic Socialist Movement(PASOK)) led by Evangelos Venizelos got 13.18% Votes and 41 seats

Independent Greeks led by Panos Kammenos got 10.6% Votes and 33 seats

Communist Party led by Aleka Papariga got 8.48% Votes and 26 seats

Golden Dawn led by Nikolaos Michaloliakos got 6.97% Votes and  21 seats

Democratic Left led by Fotis Kouvelis got 6.11% Votes and 19 seats

 New Democracy Party led by Antonis Samaras whose party topped the poll, tried and failed to put together a coalition on Monday May 07,2012.
Alexis Tsipras, who heads the Syriza group, will on Tuesday be officially given three days to negotiate a coalition by President Karolos Papoulias .

Greece to hold new election on June 17,2012

Greece will hold fresh elections on June 17,2012 and Council of State president Panagiotis Pikramenos will head the caretaker government until the election.

The election date was announced after party leaders met Greek President Karolos Papoulias on Wednesday May 16,2012.

Recent opinion polls suggest that Syriza, a leftist bloc opposed to the tough bailout conditions, would win a new election, but would still not gain enough for a parliamentary majority

EU officials fear Greece will elect an anti-bailout government, which could trigger a Greek exit from the euro.


 Greek Legislative election - June 17,2012

The election was held to elect all 300 members to the Hellenic Parliament in accordance with the constitution after coalition talks failed following the May 2012 elections.The results are -


  New Democracy: 79 seats
   > bonus 50 seats to the leading party, ND
  Independent Greeks: 20 seats
  Golden Dawn: 18 seats
  Democratic Left: 17 seats
  Communist Party: 12 seats

New Democracy Party won 129 seats securing 30% Votes(The Party won 129 seats in Greece's 300-seat parliament on Sunday, including a 50-seat bonus for coming first in the election)

Coalition of the Radical Left(SYRIZA) won 71 seats securing 27% Votes

Panhellenic Socialist Movement(PASOK)won 33 seats securing 12% Votes

Independent Greeks Party(ANEL) won 20 seats securing 7.5% Votes

Golden Dawn party(XA) won 18 seats securing 7% Votes

Democratic Left Party(DIMAR) won 17 seats securing 6% Votes

Communist Party of Greece(KKE) won 12 seats securing 4.5% Votes


3-Party Coalition Government - June 20,2012

On June20, 2012New Democracy party announced a coalition government with PASOK and DIMAR.


Antonis Samaras Sworn as Greek PM  - Wednesday June 20,2012

Antonis Samaras(leader of the New Democracy conservative party) was sworn in as Prime Minister of a three-party coalition three days after his party (Conservative Party)won the second national elections in six weeks but without enough votes to form a government on its own.  

Antonis Samaras(60) became Greece's fourth prime minister in eight months at a brief ceremony at the presidential palace in Athens on Wednesday.

 PM Antonis Samaras forms new cabinet


Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras has announced his new cabinet on Thursday June 21,2012, which is dominated by MPs from his conservative New Democracy party.

Key cabinet ministers

  • Finance: Vassilis Rapanos
  • Administrative Reform and e-Governance: Antonios Manitakis
  • Interior: Evripidis Stylianidis
  • Foreign Affairs: Dimitris Avramopoulos
  • Defence: Panos Panagiotopoulos


The New Finance Minister is Vassilis Rapanos(65)a former economics professor who served in the economy ministry when Greece joined the euro in 2001. 

Greek coalition wins confidence vote ahead of euro talks

Greece's new coalition government has won the approval of all MPs of the three parties backing the coalition, which wants to keep Greece in the euro.

The vote was seen as largely symbolic, as the coalition has the support of 179 out of 300 members of parliament.The new government withstood the vote 179-121, drawing support from conservatives, socialists and the Democratic Left on Sunday July 08,2012

In his final speech before the vote, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras appealed for unity.
"Things will be difficult from here on in, and what we ask is unity, from different sides, from disagreeing sides, but unity," he told MPs


Crackdown on Illegal Immigrants - Sunday Aug 05,2012

Greek authorities have begun one of the country's biggest crackdowns yet on suspected illegal immigrants, deploying 4,500 police around Athens and detaining more than 7,000 immigrants in less than 72 hours.


Thousands of migrants are being held in detention centres near Athens before being deported back to their home countries.

"We will not allow our towns, or our country, to be occupied and become a migrant ghetto," said Athens' hardline public-order minister, Nikos Dendias

Greece seeking more time to implement austerity - Aug 15,2012

Greek prime minister Antonis Samaras, facing deepening recession in the country, is set to meet next week with Luxemburg prime minister Jean-Claude Juncker, German chancellor Angela Merkel and French president François Hollande to persuade Eurozone leaders to extend the time of austerity from two years to four years, up till 2016.

Mr Samaras claims that, with this extended time of austerity, budget deficit will drop by 1.5% of GDP annually, which is much easier than prior agreement of 2.5% of GDP annually.
An additional €20 billion of funding would also be required to support Greece, as deficit reduction in 2013/14 would be smaller than planned.
That could be raised from either from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), treasury bills, or by postponing repayment of the EU/IMF loan from 2016 until 2020


Greek to stick to implementing austerity measures - Aug 19,2012

German chancellor Angela Merkel has insisted there is no room for concessions to Greece on the conditions of its aid programme and no appetite for a third rescue package.

"The Greeks must stick to what they agreed to," Volker Kauder, the parliamentary leader of Merkel's conservative bloc, told the weekly Der Spiegel. "There is no more latitude, either on the timeframe or the matter itself, because that would again be a breach of agreements. It is just that which led to this crisis."


General Strike & Anti-Austerity Protests in Greece - Wednesday Sep 26,2012


Trade unions in Greece have begun the first general strike since the country's conservative-led coalition government came to power in June 2012.

The general strike is being backed by the country's biggest private sector force, the General Confederation of Greek workers (GSEE), the union of civil servants (ADEDY), and militant unionists attached to the KKE communist partyAll three groups are holding hold mass demonstrations in Athens – and some 65 cities and major towns nationwide – before protesters march on the Greek parliament.

Much of the union anger is directed at spending cuts worth nearly €12bn (£9.5bn) over the next two years that Greece has promised the EU and International Monetary Fund to secure its next tranche of aid.


German Chancellor Angela Merkel visit met with protests 


German Chancellor Angela Merkel got a hostile reception from many ordinary Greeks on Tuesday, Oct 09,2012 when she flew into Athens on her first visit to the country since its debt crisis erupted three years ago.

Angela Merkel's visit triggered protests with some 50,000 demonstrators in Athens. The rallies were mostly peaceful, but police briefly clashed with several dozen demonstrators and detained nearly 200 throughout the day.



Greek Nationwide Strike -Wednesday Oct 17,2012

Professionals, including journalists, doctors and court officials across Greece walked off the job Wednesday, ahead of a nationwide strike called by the country’s two biggest trade unions to oppose the government’s austerity plans.

The 24-hour strike caused a news blackout and hospitals were operating with emergency staff, while courts were closed. 

It comes ahead of another 24-hour nationwide strike called by unions for Thursday Oct 18,2012.

Greek Parliament Pass a New Round of Austerity Measures - Thursday Nov 7,2012

The Greek parliament passed a new round of austerity measures on Thursday, as work stoppages continued and newly released unemployment figured showed a record high of 25.4 %.The official unemployment figures from the state statistics agency ELSTAT showed a record high of 25.4 % for August, rising from 24.8 % in July and 18.4 % a year ago.
The worst affected was the 15-24 age group, with unemployment reaching 58%, followed by the 35-44 age group at 41 % and the 25-34 age group with 32.9 %.

The austerity measures were a precondition for the next round of international aid for the struggling country - a 31.5-billion-euro instalment that hinges on the approval of the 2013 budget, which comes up for a vote on Sunday Nov 11,2012.
The measures include additional pension and public-sector cuts and tax hikes, a two-year increase in the retirement age - to 67 - and legislation that will make it easier to sack civil servants. The law gives the government the right to cut the minimum wage, reduces the redundancy notice period and limits compensation for workers with more than 16 years of service.
The unpopular budget cuts, worth 13.5 billion euros, were approved by lawmakers from only two of the three parties in the ruling coalition, with heavy dissent from within party ranks.
Seven lawmakers were expelled from the conservative New Democracy and socialist PASOK parties after failing to back the measures.
In the 300-member parliament, 153 votes in favor of the cuts and 128 opposed, with 18 abstentions.Hours after for the package of spending cuts and tax increases, transport remained paralysed in Athens as the metro, suburban railway and taxis continued rolling 24-hour strikes, causing major traffic jams.
 Greek Parliament Adopts Budget for 2013 - Monday Nov 12,2012
The Greek parliament has adopted a budget for 2013 by 167 votes to 128 that involves 9.4bn euros ($11.9bn; £7.5bn) of cuts in spending.
The vote paves the ways for Greece's international creditors to unlock a 31.5bn euro tranche of bailout funds.

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