News / Europe

Greek PM Faces Allies, Court on State TV Closure

Supporters of the employees of state broadcaster ERT sit outside its headquarters in Athens, June 17, 2013. Supporters of the employees of state broadcaster ERT sit outside its headquarters in Athens, June 17, 2013.
x
Supporters of the employees of state broadcaster ERT sit outside its headquarters in Athens, June 17, 2013.
Supporters of the employees of state broadcaster ERT sit outside its headquarters in Athens, June 17, 2013.
Reuters
Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras faced a double challenge on Monday from coalition partners furious over the shutdown of state broadcaster ERT and a court hearing that could put the shuttered station back on air.

ERT's abrupt closure last week in the name of austerity to please EU and IMF lenders triggered a deep rift in the ruling coalition, throwing the debt-choked nation back into turmoil just as faint hopes of a recovery had begun to sprout.

Exactly a year after a general election brought Samaras and his two leftist allies to power, the three parties have fed fears of hugely disruptive snap polls by refusing to compromise over an entity that was widely unloved until its shock overnight closure.

“It's clear that over the last days any semblance of logic in dealing with this issue has been lost,” said Costas Panagopoulos, head of ALCO pollsters. “The most absurd thing is that we are talking about a possible destruction of the country over ERT.”

Aware his allies stand to lose heavily in any election, the conservative Samaras has refused in a flurry of speeches to turn the “sinful” ERT back on, vowing to fight to modernize a country he says had become a “Jurassic Park” of inefficiency and corruption.

His PASOK and Democratic Left partners, who risk humiliation and the loss of any future say in the coalition, rejected Samaras's offer of a limited restart of broadcasts. The three party leaders are to meet at 1630 GMT to seek a solution.

“It's impossible to say how far they will go because all logic has gone out the window,” said Panagopoulos. “Normally, you would expect they would not be willing to throw everything up in the air over this decision. Greece has gone back to where it was a year ago in terms of political instability over ERT.”

He estimated a 30 percent risk of elections over the summer, despite all three parties insisting there will be no early poll.

“We don't want early elections, we want to do our job,” Makis Voridis, a lawmaker from Samaras's New Democracy party told Reuters. “We promised reforms to the Greek people and ERT is a small first step.”

Ratings agency Moody's said the fraying political consensus on ERT's closure and slippage on a troubled privatization program after Athens failed to sell off state natural gas firm DEPA were negative for Greece's lowly C credit rating.

“Without a compromise among coalition partners, the risk of new elections will increase,” the agency said.

A senior euro zone official voiced concern that Greece was hurtling back to its days of crisis and drama, given the slow pace of public sector reforms and privatizations.

“It's kind of deja vu with Greece,” the official said.

A tired nation

Opinion polls over the weekend showed a majority of Greeks opposed the shutdown, due rather to its abruptness - screens went black a few hours after the announcement, cutting off newscasters mid-sentence - than to the decision itself.

Journalists have gone on strike, thousands have rallied in protest outside ERT's headquarters and the broadcaster's 2,600 staff have continued to broadcast over the Internet in defiance of management orders to pack up and leave.

Hard left opposition leader Alexis Tsipras was to address a rally in the central Syntagma square at 1700 GMT to decry what he called Samaras's “authoritarian policy” of shutting down ERT.

On Monday, the bootleg feed showed a video montage of ordinary Greeks, including young children, recounting how they felt when the broadcaster was taken off air.

Still, not all Greeks were impressed with the outcry over ERT and the strikes in its defense in a country grinding through its sixth year of recession, with unemployment at 27 percent.

“What about the other 1.5 million people who are unemployed?” said 63-year old Marika Vlassopoulou, a pensioner.

Also on Monday, Greece's top administrative court will hear an appeal by ERT's trade union against the decision to shut the broadcaster, with a ruling expected later on Monday or Tuesday.

A ruling in favor of the union would temporarily suspend the government decision, meaning ERT's signal would be restored.

Still, officials have said the decision to shut down the broadcaster helped Greece obtain its latest tranche of bailout funds worth 3.3 billion euros last week from lenders, so Samaras has already pocketed a minor victory from the shutdown.

A ruling switching the signal back on could offer a way out of the impasse by allowing coalition partners to maintain their positions but defer to the court as the final say on the matter.

You May Like

Tired of Waiting, South Africans Demand Change ‘Now’

With chronic poverty and lack of basic services largely fueling recent xenophobic attacks, many in Rainbow Nation say it’s time for government to act More

Challenges Ahead for China's Development Plans in Pakistan

Planned $46 billion in energy and infrastructure investments in Pakistan are aimed at transforming the country into a regional hub for trade and investment More

Audio 'Forbidden City' Revisits Little Known Era of Asian-American Entertainment

Little-known chapter of entertainment history captured in 80s documentary is revisited in new digitally remastered format and book More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populationsi
X
April 24, 2015 10:13 PM
A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

VOA Blogs