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

    US Lawmakers Vow to Continue Immigrant Program for Afghan Interpreters

    Congressional inaction threatens funding for effort which began in 2008 and has allowed more than 20,000 interpreters, their family members to immigrate to US

    Brexit's Impact on Russia Stirs Concern

    Some analysts see Brexit aiding Putin's plans to destabilize European politics; others note that an economically unstable Europe is not in Moscow's interests

    US to Train Cambodian Government on Combating Cybercrime

    Concerns raised over drafting of law, as critics fear cybercrime regulations could be used to restrict freedom of expression and stifle political dissent

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roari
    X
    June 28, 2016 10:33 AM
    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video New York Pride March A Celebration of Life, Mourning of Loss

    At this year’s march in New York marking the end of pride week, a record-breaking crowd of LGBT activists and allies marched down Manhattan's Fifth Avenue, in what will be long remembered as a powerful display of solidarity and remembrance for the 49 victims killed two weeks ago in an Orlando gay nightclub.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora