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

Uganda Court Annuls Anti-Gay Law

Court says law was passed in parliament without enough members present for a full quorum More

Multimedia Thailand Makes Efforts to Improve Conditions for Migrant Laborers

In Thailand, its not uncommon for parents to bring their children to work; one company, in-collaboration with other organizations, address safety concerns More

In Indonesia, Jihad Video Raises Concern

Video calls on Indonesians to join Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, ISIL More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
In Thailand, Some Efforts to Improve Conditions For Migrant Laborersi
X
Steve Herman
August 01, 2014 6:22 PM
Thailand has been facing increasing international scrutiny as a hub of human trafficking and slave labor. Some of the kingdom’s companies are striving to improve working conditions, especially for the millions of migrant laborers from surrounding countries. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok takes a look at one initiative for children at construction sites
Video

Video In Thailand, Some Efforts to Improve Conditions For Migrant Laborers

Thailand has been facing increasing international scrutiny as a hub of human trafficking and slave labor. Some of the kingdom’s companies are striving to improve working conditions, especially for the millions of migrant laborers from surrounding countries. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok takes a look at one initiative for children at construction sites
Video

Video Public Raises its Voice on Power Plant Pollution

In the United States, proposed rules to cut pollution from the nation’s 600 coal-fired power plants are generating a heated debate. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, charged with writing and implementing the plan, has already received 300,000 written comments. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, another 1,600 people are lining up this week at EPA headquarters and at satellite offices around the country to give their testimony in person.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video China Investigates Powerful Former Security Chief

The public in China is welcoming the Communist Party's decision to investigate one of the country's once most powerful politicians, former domestic security chief Zhou Yongkang. Analysts say the move by President Xi Jinping is not only an effort to win more support for the party, but an essential step to furthering much needed economic reforms and removing those who would stand in the way of change. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.

AppleAndroid

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.7305
JPY
USD
101.53
GBP
USD
0.5830
CAD
USD
1.0656
INR
USD
60.075

Rates may not be current.