Western European News Digest
Russia Offering Greece Station on Land-Bridge
Oct. 5 (EIRNS)Russia has offered Greece a station on the Silk Road Land-Bridge. A Greek source involved in developing stronger economic relations with Russia told EIR that Russia has expressed interest in investing in the Greek Railways, but the current Greek government has rejected it, obviously under orders from the EU and its creditors. The source charged that the government is acting like "traitors." In fact, the latest rumor is that the government wants to literally give the railways to the French, to pay off Greece's unpayable foreign debts!
Talks on German-Russian Coal and Gas Venture
Oct. 6 (EIRNS)On Oct. 3, Germany's power company RWE and Russia's Gazprom agreed at a meeting of their CEOs in The Hague, Netherlands, to "deepen" and extend talks over a power-production joint venture, beyond Oct. 15, the date originally set after a statement of intent on the venture project was signed by the CEOs of both firms in mid-July.
Chief executives Jürgen Grossmann of RWE and his Gazprom counterpart, Alexei Miller, agreed to continue with their cooperation talks beyond the Oct. 15 deadline that was set when the discussion officially started around three months ago. In July, both companies said they are examining options for a gas- and coal-power joint venture in Germany, U.K., and the Benelux countries. This involves existing and/or newly built gas- and coal-fired power plants in these countries.
Tens of Thousands Return to Athens' Syntagma Square
Oct. 5 (EIRNS)Tens of thousands of Greek trade unionists and protesters returned to Syntagma Square in front of the Parliament in central Athens, gathering as both the public sector union ADEDY and the private sector union GSEE staged their first general strike since last June, when thousands of police launched a gas attack on the demonstrators. Today's general strike was peaceful, except for clashes between police and anarchists. The strike closed down most of the public transportation, including airports, as well as tax offices, insurance funds, and state hospitals, in protest of the government's austerity measures.
There have already been a number of sit-in protests at ministries this week. Some 50 protesters took over the office of Labor Minister Giorgos Koutroumanis yesterday morning. GSEE and ADEDY have organized another strike and rally for Oct. 19, which they expect to be better attended than today's rally.
100,000 Protesters Hit IMF Austerity in Lisbon
Oct. 3 (EIRNS)Some 100,000 demonstrated on Saturday, Oct. 1, in Lisbon, Portugal, protesting the government's austerity measures. Government and private sector workers rallied in Lisbon and also in Porto, following a call by the country's largest trade union federation to speak out against policies it says have devastated "jobs, workers, pensions, and social rights."
Last month, the government announced plans for cutting 1,700 managerial positions from the state administration and 137 public companies. One demonstrator called the austerity moves "a frontal assault against the rights of workers," pointing out that the plan will reduce severance pay to 20 days per year worked, down from 30 days.
The massive austerity being forced on Portugal as part of the bailout is following the same scenario as that of Greece, which is to collapse the economy. The government last week announced that its economy could contract by a more than anticipated 2.5% of gross domestic product next year.
Finland Selects Site for New Nuclear Plant
Oct. 5 (EIRNS)Finland earned the distinction of becoming the first nation, after the earthquake- and tsunami-caused accidents in Japan's Fukushima nuclear power plants, to name a new site for a nuclear power plant. The municipality of Phyäjoki on Finland's western coast has been selected by Fennovoima as the site of the country's third nuclear power plant. Site preparations for the plant could start by the end of 2012. The reactor project is estimated to cost around EU4-6 billion euros ($5-8 billion).
Finland's parliament voted in July 2010 to back the building of two new nuclear reactors by Fennovoima and utility Teollisuuden Voima (TVO), raising Finland's total to seven.
Motion for Euro Referendum Continues To Build
Oct. 5 (EIRNS)The genie is out of the bottle, as the momentum for a national referendum on the euro builds. An opinion poll carried out by the FORSA team for Stern magazine, shows that more than 50% of those polled are opposed to the euro and favorable to a return of the D-mark. If there were an anti-euro pro-deutschmark party (there is one, the BüSo, which the poll does not mention), the poll indicates that it would receive 18% of the vote in national elections now, and even 23% in eastern Germany.
The majority for the D-mark is being mischaracterized in the mainstream media as "mostly, citizens with little education, and eastern Germans."
Plan for ECB To Print Money for the EFSF
Oct. 3 (EIRNS)A plan to allow the European Central Bank to print money for the European Financial Stability Facility without formally violating statutes and treaties was reported today by the Milan, Italy daily Corriere della Sera. The plan would involve Germany's Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau and sister organizations in France, Italy, and Spain, respectively: the Caisse des Dépôts et des Consignations, the Cassa Depositi e Prestiti (CDP) and the Istituto de Credito Oficial. Since those state-controlled financial institutions have access to ECB money, they could borrow money from the ECB and lend it to the EFSF. Their loans would be ensured by member-states.
China Could Join German Space Program
Oct. 3 (EIRNS)On Oct. 1, the Stuttgarter Zeitung ran an interview with Johann-Dietrich Wörner, head of the German Aeronautics and Space Administration (DLR) on China's space program. Wörner says that the steps by China were well thought through, and that Germany should increase its collaboration with China. The DLR is already working with China in space medicine and research in absence of gravity. On Nov. 1, the Chinese will take German experiments on board and bring them into Earth orbit. Wörner says: "The Chinese are very eager to collaborate on various projects. Now, the partners of the space station ISS should get into a dialogue with China. I wouldn't hesitate any longer."
German Foreign Minister Attacks Nation-State, Once Again
Oct. 3 (EIRNS)In an article in yesterday's Welt am Sonntag, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble once again polemicized against the nation-state principle, claiming that the only way to protect Germany against attacks from the "hypernervous financial markets" was "more of Europe."
"Nobody can dispute," Schäuble continued, "that the nation-state has lost its absolute monopoly on regulationand this long ago.... That is why we need a new form of cooperation between the states, 'governance.' It does not replace the nation-state or make it superfluous. Rather, it has to create identity and cohesion for the people, in times of globalization and of a borderless worldwide web. But we must look beyond the nation-state."
Human Rights Court Refuses To Exonerate Soros
Oct. 8 (EIRNS)George Soros lost a case at the European Court of Human Rights to have his criminal conviction for insider dealing quashed. Soros was convicted in France in 2002, concerning trades he had made 14 years before, in Societé Générale shares.