News / Economy

    Visiting German Finance Minister Faces Greek Protests

    German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble (R) meets Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras in Athens, July 18, 2013.
    German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble (R) meets Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras in Athens, July 18, 2013.
    Selah Hennessy
    Thousands of police officers lined the streets of Athens on Thursday as the German finance minister visited the Greek capital. His arrival comes as a controversial bill was passed in the Greek parliament to eliminate thousands of public sector jobs.

    Wolfgang Schaeuble said Thursday he holds a "deep respect" for how Greece has tackled its reform efforts.

    This was the German finance minister's first trip to Athens since Greece was granted its initial international bailout three years ago.

    But Greek citizens did not welcome him with open arms.

    Four-thousand police were on hand to keep order. Authorities shut the city center and banned protests during his visit in a sign of just how unpopular Germany's push for austerity has been.

    Outside parliament on Thursday, Greeks voiced their discontent. One of them, a Greek engineer, said Schaeuble should go. "We do not need conquerors here," he said. "We've gone through so much with the German occupation."

    Earlier on Thursday the Greek parliament narrowly passed a bill to cut public sector jobs despite thousands of people protesting outside parliament during the vote.

    The cuts will pave the way for Greece to receive the next tranche of its bailout aid.

    Greece is dependent on its international lenders, the so-called "troika," which is made up of the International Monetary Fund, the European Central Bank and the European Commission. Together they are propping Greece up with over $300 billion in aid.

    Germany is Greece's biggest creditor. On Thursday Schaeuble said Germany will not be granting Greeks a haircut, or write-down, on their debt.

    But Iain Begg, a Europe expert at the London School of Economics, said the burden of Greek debt, which is continuing to rise, will have to be cut.

    "That ultimately means the Germans accepting that they will lose some of the money they have invested in Greece. It is unlikely to happen before the German elections because it would play so badly in Germany itself," he said. "But after another couple of months I would expect to see some movement toward easing the pain of the debt in Greece."

    Begg said despite Greek woes, there is some good news on the horizon. In the first place, he said, the Greek tourism industry is doing well and giving some boost to the country's economy.

    And across Europe, he said, countries that looked very bad a year or two ago are showing some signs of recovery. He said Spain is one example.
     
    "Employment is just turning the corner, the public finances coming back into order, the banks being recapitalized in a fairly successful manner," Begg said. "All that creates the foundations for them to move forward. So I would expect to see in the second half of this year and into this year slow growth moving into the European economy, which has been absent for the last two years."

    Over 4,000 state employees will lose their jobs in the bill passed early Thursday, including teachers and local government workers.​

    You May Like

    New EU Asylum Rules Could Boost Rightists

    New regulations will seek to correct EU failures in dealing with migrant crisis, most notably inability to get member states to absorb a total of 160,000 refugees

    More Political Turmoil Likely in Iraq as Iran Waits in the Wings

    Analysts warn that Tehran, even though it may not be engineering the Sadrist protests in Baghdad, is seeking to leverage its influence on its neighbor

    Goodbye Ketchup, Hello Sriracha!

    How immigrants are triggering a great transformation in American cuisine

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Rulingi
    X
    May 03, 2016 5:16 PM
    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Elephant Summit Results in $5M in Pledges, Presidential Support

    Attended and supported by three African presidents, a three-day anti-poaching summit has concluded in Kenya, resulting in $5 million in pledges and a united message to the world that elephants are worth more alive than dead. The summit culminated at the Nairobi National Park with the largest ivory burn in history. VOA’s Jill Craig attended the summit and has this report about the outcomes.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With the conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, between the rebel PKK and the Turkish state, many Kurds are trying to escape the turmoil by focusing on the success of their football team Amedspor in Diyarbakir. The club is increasingly becoming a symbol for Kurds, not only in Diyarbakir but beyond. Dorian Jones reports from southeast Turkey.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora

    World Currencies

    EUR
    USD
    0.8643
    JPY
    USD
    105.91
    GBP
    USD
    0.6837
    CAD
    USD
    1.2584
    INR
    USD
    66.395

    Rates may not be current.