Turkey’s deep traditions survive modern life

Turkey is changing fast. And it’s modernizing fast. For a recent vacation, I hit the road in Turkey, with romantic memories (a few years old) of horse-drawn carriages and villages with economies powered by hay, dung and ducks.

While that rustic old world is tougher to find, the deep traditions and warm hospitality of the region are as endearing as ever, especially if you venture past the predictable sights and tourist zones.

Turkey has a sparse and frustrating train system, but flights are cheap, and competitive bus companies provide easy, comfy and inexpensive connections throughout the land.

At the crossroads of Europe and Asia, Turkey is looking west and getting there. It is vast, bigger than Texas and with a population of 60 million. Only half of Turkey’s 42,000 villages had electricity in 1980. Now they all do. Does modernization threaten the beautiful things that make Turkish culture so appealing? An old village woman assured me, “We can survive TV and tourism because we have strong cultural roots.� The Turkish way of life is painted onto this land with indelible cultural ink.

I followed my wanderlust to one of my favourite destinations in Turkey, the village of Güzelyurt in Cappadocia. Families here go about daily life as they have for generations. I walk down streets that residents from 3,000 years ago might recognize, past homes carved into rock, enjoying friendly greetings of “Merhaba.�

Time is not money here. It’s the perfect place to slow down and experience a true “back door� experience: playing backgammon in a smoky tea house, downing cup after cup of tea.

With the help of a guide, I enjoy a home visit, the perfect two-way cultural exchange. A village woman serves me a simple, home-cooked lunch. Then, with the guide as translator, I get to really connect with my host. This is the best way to gain an insight into her world and village life in Turkey.

Cappadocia is rightly famous for its fantastic land formations and labyrinthine cave dwellings going back to early Christian days. And it’s also famous for a breathtaking way to survey this exotic landscape: by riding a hot-air balloon. I enjoyed a dreamy early-morning glide over a scenic wonderland. Each morning, 50 to 80 balloons lift off, giving lots of travellers a fine memory and stunning pictures.

Ancient ruins litter the Turkish countryside, reminding visitors that the more archeologists dig, the more they realize that Anatolia (Asian Turkey), along with Mesopotamia, is a birthplace of civilization. And travellers often forget that 2,000 years ago the west coast of Turkey was the heartland of ancient Greece — a region called Ionia.

A relatively new excavation at Aphrodisias has uncovered an ancient city dedicated to Aphrodite, Greek goddess of love and beauty. There are ruins at Troy, mythical site of Homer’s Iliad, and Pergamum, with its beautifully sited theatre and Temple of Trajan. At the impressive ruins of Hierapolis, you can walk through a vast and fascinating necropolis — city of the dead — where tombs line a network of roads, and then take a quick dip in a natural thermal pool amid chunks of Roman columns.

But for me, the show-stopper is Ephesus. One of the biggest cities of the Roman Empire, Ephesus had a population of 250,000 and was a thriving seaport until its harbour silted up (it now lies eight kilometres inland from the Aegean coast). It’s famous for its once-spectacular, now-ruined Temple of Artemis — one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World — and the dramatic, partially restored Library of Celsus, one of the largest libraries of its time.

A walking tour of the still-paved streets is the best way to peel back the layers of dust to understand the everyday lifestyles of the rich and Roman.

As I strolled down the broad main drag, I just replaced my fellow tourists with toga-clad ancients to easily imagine the long-ago city, with its statues, bubbling fountains, arches and shops.

When I’ve had enough of blockbuster antiquities, I head for the coast. What better way to take a “vacation from vacation� than by sailing on the Turkish Riviera?

Along Turkey’s southwest coast, beautiful wooden boats (called gulets) cruise the azure waters, exploring coves and inlets. I capped off my trip with a day cruise from the resort town of Bodrum, swimming and lazing while admiring striking views of jewel-like Aegean Islands.

Turkey is so rewarding as a destination because it gets me out of my comfort zone and challenges my norms. Experiencing the friendly charm of Turkey, I am like that balloon lifting off the wild Cappadocian field — free, at least for a while, from the bonds of my culture and ready to experience the world from a different perspective.

Rick Steves (ricksteves.com) writes European travel guidebooks and hosts travel shows on public television and public radio. Email him at [email protected] and follow his blog on Facebook.


Soaring Demand Results in Monarch Increasing Flights From Manchester to Sharm El Sheikh in Egypt

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM–(Marketwire – Sept. 15, 2011) – Monarch, the scheduled leisure airline, has increased its programme of cheap flights to Sharm El Sheikh from Manchester this winter due to phenomenal demand from its customers.

The new route, which was announced by the airline in July, has been so well received that Monarch is now adding a Monday flight between 07 November 2011 and 19 March 2012, in addition to the existing flights on Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays. The additional Sharm El Sheikh flights from Manchester are available to book now via the Monarch website with fares starting from £173.99 return including all taxes and charges.

Commenting on the additional flights to the Red Sea, Managing Director of Monarch Airlines, Kevin George said, “We have seen strong demand for our new scheduled services between Manchester and Sharm el Sheikh in the first month of announcing the new route. As a result we are delighted to be adding an additional flight per week, bringing the total number of flights between Manchester and Egypt’s Red Sea Resort to four a week throughout the winter season.

“This new flight will allow even more customers to take advantage of Monarch’s innovative ‘build your own class’ service, which offers customers the ability to tailor their flight package to their exact requirements, providing a greater sense of freedom and personalisation. Optional extras such as extra legroom seating and pre-ordered meals in addition to fantastic value fares, makes Monarch a great choice for longer flight durations such as Egypt.”

Monarch’s scheduled flights are available to book until October 2012. Customers now booking flights will also benefit from zero debit card charge fees and a fixed fee for all credit card bookings, regardless of the transaction value or number of people travelling.

Notes to Editors

Monarch’s extra Monday flight between Manchester and Sharm el Sheikh will operate between 07 March 2011 and 19 March 2012.

About Monarch

Monarch, the scheduled leisure airline, operates flights to Spain, Gibraltar, Portugal, Cyprus, Turkey, Egypt and Greece from Birmingham, London Gatwick, London Luton and Manchester airports. In addition to year-round low fares, Monarch also offers a bespoke “build your own class of travel” range of products and services both on the ground and inflight. All customers are allocated a seat at check-in but for those wishing to select where in the cabin they sit to ensure that families and groups are seated together, seats can be pre-booked from £4.99 per one-way flight. For customers looking for added comfort, extra legroom seats are also available offering up to six inches of extra space from only £9.99.

Customers travelling on scheduled flights can also avoid booking charges by paying for their flights using a debit card or for a fixed £10 fee, can pay by credit card – regardless of the value of the transaction or the number of people travelling.

They can also take advantage of online check-in, which is available between 18 days and four and a half hours prior to departure. With a great range of tasty hot and cold meals that can be pre-booked or purchased onboard, flying with Monarch really couldn’t be simpler.

In addition to flights, Monarch also now offers a huge range of great value holidays, accommodation options, car hire and travel insurance.

For further information or to book Monarch flights, Monarch Holidays or Monarch Hotels, please visit www.monarch.co.uk.


Sarkozy, Merkel Say Greece’s Future Is in the Euro Region

September 15, 2011, 3:16 AM EDT

By Helene Fouquet and Eleni Chrepa

(Updates euro, stocks from second paragraph, adds comment from Merkel in 11th.)

Sept. 15 (Bloomberg) — French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel said they are “convinced” Greece will stay in the euro area as they faced international calls to step up efforts in fighting the region’s debt crisis.

The euro rose after the leaders of Europe’s two biggest economies issued a statement yesterday following a telephone conversation with Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou. It erased most of those gains today. Papandreou committed to meet deficit-reduction targets demanded as a condition for an international bailout, according to statements from governments in Berlin, Athens and Paris.

European governments are aiming to ratify a July 21 agreement to bolster the euro region’s bailout fund and extend a second rescue to Greece. Investor skittishness over the spread of the debt crisis has raised banks’ funding costs and roiled markets worldwide.

“I am skeptical that this will help to reassure markets,” Tullia Bucco, an economist at UniCredit Global Research in Milan, said of the leaders’ statement. “The road to the implementation of the second aid package is still quite long and may prove bumpy.”

The euro was up 0.1 percent to $1.3731 at 8:43 a.m. in Berlin, as futures on the Euro Stoxx 50 Index added 1.2 percent.

Geithner’s Travels

Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner will travel to Wroclaw, Poland, to attend a session for the first time of the European Union’s Economic and Financial Affairs Council that begins tomorrow. Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao yesterday called on other countries to “put their houses in order.”

Underscoring divisions in Europe, European Commission President Jose Barroso said he was close to proposing options on joint euro-area bond sales, putting officials in Brussels on a collision course with Germany over steps to contain the sovereign debt crisis.

“The commission will soon present options for the introduction of euro bonds,” Barroso told the European Parliament yesterday in Strasbourg, France, prompting applause from lawmakers who have backed the idea and a swift rejection from officials in Berlin. “Some of these options could be implemented within the terms of the current treaty; others would require treaty change.”

In the three-way telephone call, Papandreou committed to enacting policies demanded by the EU and International Monetary fund to keep the bailout funds flowing. Sarkozy and Merkel “are convinced that the future of Greece is in the euro zone,” the French statement said.

Greek Steps

The Greek Cabinet this month endorsed measures to help meet deficit targets of 17.1 billion euros ($23.6 billion) in 2011 and 14.9 billion euros in 2012, covering a 2 billion-euro shortfall for this year that has been exacerbated by a deepening recession.

The fulfillment of Greece’s adjustment program is “more than ever” essential and is a condition for the payment of further aid tranches, Merkel said in the call, according to an e-mailed statement from her chief spokesman, Steffen Seibert.

Papandreou said Sept. 10 that the government’s top priority is “to save the country from bankruptcy” and said he would do whatever is necessary to meet targets.

Putting austerity programs into place “is indispensable to establish sustainable and balanced growth in Greece,” according to the statement issued in Paris. “The success of the Greek plan will provide stability to the euro zone.”

–With assistance from Natalie Weeks and Maria Petrakis in Athens, Catarina Saraiva in New York and Jeff Black in Frankfurt. Editors: James Herting, Craig Stirling

To contact the reporters on this story: Helene Fouquet in Paris at [email protected]; Eleni Chrepa in Athens at [email protected]

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James Hertling at [email protected]


Stocks jump on hopes for progress on Greece’s debt

CURFEW BETWEEN 11PM AND 4AM

Tuesday, 13 Septemeber, 2011

(6:00pm) PM announces new hotspot areas: MORUGA, CLAXTON BAY, CEDROS, MALONEY, LA HORQUETTA, CALY BAY, DOW VILLAGE, MC BEAN, CHASE VILLAGE

Wednesday, 7th September, 2011

(2:40PM) The national community is reminded of the National Hotlines established to share information with the members of the Protective Services. The Hotlines are 800-0699 and 800-0700.


Sunday 4th September, 2011

(4:00PM) The motion to extend the State of Emergency for a further three months has been passed – 29 members voted for while 10 voted against there were no abstentions. PM Kamla Persad-Bissessar also announced a change in the curfew hours to 11pm to 4am effective Monday September 5th.

Saturday 3rd September, 2011
(11:58PM) Parliament has just been adjourned until 10am Sun 4th September when debate will continue on the current State of Emergency. Votes taken for adjournment were Yes:29 No:9 Abstentions:0


Friday 2nd September, 2011

(3:30PM) 1,143 arrested during State of Emergency

Coast Guard, acting on intelligence, seized a vessel with four persons onboard, including two Trinidadians and confiscated cocaine with a street value of $3.2 million on board the vessel.

Wednesday 31st August,2011

PUBLIC ADVISORY – NO FIREWORKS DISPLAY

August 31, 2011. Port of Spain. Members of the National Community are advised that the traditional Independence Day fireworks display will not be conducted this year.


Tuesday 30th August, 2011

(3:00PM) 820 persons have been arrested since for the duration of the State of Emergency

Monday 29th August, 2011

(4:00PM) Contact numbers for police stations across TT http://ht.ly/6fRK2

(3:30PM) PM has announced that the State of Emergency will be extended. No further details given.

PM Persad-Bissessar denied accusations from members of the public that the curfew and arrests were race oriented and designed to target a certain group in the society.

Sunday 28th August, 2011

(12:30PM) Curfew Regulation amended:
1. Fine for breaking curfew increased to $3000 or 6 months in prison.
2. Anyone found to be harbouring criminals or in possession of illegal guns is liable to $5000 fine or 1 year in prison

(12:15PM) National Security Media Briefing: CoP Gibbs says from 8am yesterday and 8am today: 117 persons arrested. 26 gang related, 26 drug related, 16 breaking curfew, 31 serious crime, 15 outstanding warrant

Saturday 27th August, 2011

Government will place advertisements in the media advising citizens of their rights during a State of Emergency and likewise the powers of the security forces during this time;

Duo held in $9,600 suite

Soldiers called to PM’s side ….Protest at St Paul Street

Friday 26th August, 2011

32 charged under new Anti-Gang Act

Man, 26, stabbed to death during row with woman

CJ names 3 lawyers to Review Tribunal

Thursday 25th August, 2011

(6:30PM) STATE OF EMERGENCY TOLL FREE HOTLINE NUMBERS ARE 800-0699 AND 800-0700. These numbers are to provide information/intelligence on criminal activity.


(4:15PM) Arrests totals so far: 315 [ 115 Gang related, 12 Homicide related, 65 Drug related, 9 Firearm related, 11 serious offences, 86 Outstanding warrants ]

(4:00PM) Change in Visiting Hours at San Fernando General Hospital http://ht.ly/6cYWC

(3:00PM) Airport Authority of TT – Media Release http://ht.ly/6cVt6

Wednesday 24th August, 2011

(3:00PM) With reports of panic buying NP assures no shortage of fuel http://ht.ly/6bR6G

(2:30PM) The AG also advised of a National Hotline being established within the next 24 hours and the public will be appraised.

(2:00PM) As at 8:00a.m. today, one hundred and seventeen persons [117] were taken into custody, 56 of which are related to gangs, 48 related to narcotics, 4 related to possession of illegal firearms, 1 related to homicide, and 8 others related to other serious crimes

(10:00AM) The school term, which is scheduled to begin on September 5, will not be affected by the country’s State of Emergency.

Tuesday 23rd August, 2011

(6:30PM)
PM Kamla Persad-Bissessar update on State of Emergency http://ht.ly/6aYJ7

(6:19PM)
22 Gang Leaders and Members arrested in the last 24 hours. Accomodation is being made to deal with departing and arriving passengers at our national airports.

(1:00PM) Independence day Firework celebrations cancelled

(12:10PM) American Airlines (AA) resume flights into TT after cancellations yesterday. Announced by Minister Sandy a moment ago.

Monday 22nd August, 2011

(9:15PM)
Defence Force Hotline for State of Emergency, Trinidad Tobago – 634-3221

(8:54PM)
ISSUANCE OF CURFEW PERMITS. The TTPS notes there are two categories for Curfew Permits. They are as follows: http://ht.ly/69ZMc

(7:50PM) From the Port Authority: Due to the limited hours of operations, the 1.30pm sailing of the TT Express from POS on Thursdays, Fridays Mondays have had to be cancelled. TT Express shall be rescheduled to depart POS at 8.30 am Scarborough at 4.00 pm daily, except Wednesdays when it departs Scarborough at 12.00 noon. The 10.00 am sailing of the TT Express from Scarborough will be cancelled on Thursdays, Fridays and Mondays. Persons with ferry tickets for the cancelled sailings will be accommodated, as space becomes available on any of the day’s sailings. The sailings of the TT Spirit will remain as scheduled.

(5:49PM) via Caribbean Airlines – We have been advised that all passengers travelling out of Piarco International Airport must travel with 2 forms of photo ID and their travel itinerary. Those coming to Trinidad must keep all their travel documents including boarding tickets. All our flights are operating according to our normal schedule.

(5:25PM) Minister of Transport Senator Devant Maharaj announced on Monday, August 22nd, 2011 that all bus and maxi taxi services will end at 8 p.m. from tonight. Read more here: http://ht.ly/69RZY

Map of SOE Areas
(4:00PM) IMAGE:


(3:00PM)
With immediate effect, all Hi-Lo stores nationwide, FoodMasters and LBs will be closed daily at 6:00 p.m. to allow staff to get home safely. Please be guided accordingly.

(2:56PM) MEDIA RELEASE: OFFICE OF THE MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT FOR COUVA NORTH http://ht.ly/69IIo

(2:44PM) Hi-Lo Food Stores wishes to inform all customers that due to the current situation in the country, all our stores will be closing at 6:00 p.m. to allow all their employees to get home safely and in a timely manner.

(2:20PM)
Proclamation and Emergency Powers Regulations 2011 http://ht.ly/69GaK

(2:10PM) Breakdown of State of Emergency Areas: http://ht.ly/69Fc0

(1:00PM) Persons travelling out of the airport can apply for passes near the domestic terminal

(12:55PM) Public can apply for passes at their local police Stations and is asked to have two forms of picture ID on them in lieu of required passes

(7:00AM) AG Anand Ramlogan: Affected areas are the following…
City of Port of Spain; City of San Fernando; Borough of Arima; Borough of Chaguanas; Diego Martin Regional Corporation; San Juan Laventille Regional Corporation

PM declares limited state of emergency – http://ht.ly/69xHG

Sunday 21st August, 2011

(9:00PM)
BREAKING NEWS: Limited State of Emergency declared – http://ht.ly/69xKh

Mt Lambert residents fed up Flooding, crime plague community – http://ht.ly/69xSC

Toughen gun laws, says Rowley – http://ht.ly/69xW6

Saturday 20th August, 2011
Seven murdered yesterday – http://ht.ly/69xMP

Woman murdered in Point Lisas by man on bicycle – http://ht.ly/69xPU


Travel: Greece’s hidden spots

Torn between comfort and taking the road less traveled? Why compromise? Samos is an island of contrasts where you can avoid the package holiday herd and discover the real Greece without skimping on luxury.

It would be wrong to call Samos the Aegean’s best-kept secret. Judging from all the flags on the yachts, the Germans have already discovered the island, and there is even the occasional taverna offering svíčková alongside mousakka and tzatziki. However, while mass tourism has arrived, development is subject to heavy restrictions, and so Samos has been spared the soulless rows of cookie-cutter hotels that dominate other Greek tourist hotspots. While the island’s main resorts like Votsalakia have the usual beach bars and a few nightclubs, the raucous party animal crowd head elsewhere in the Dodecanese.

That’s not to say Samos has nothing to offer beyond sand, sea and sun – although it has all three in abundance. Thrill-seekers can don a wetsuit and try windsurfing or sea-kayaking before spending the afternoon working on their tan. If you’re keener to explore the ocean from below the surface, then there’s scuba diving and snorkeling. If that all seems too strenuous, then hire a yacht and take in some of the surrounding islands or pay a visit to nearby Turkey. Should you tire of the coastline, then discover the island’s interior, either on foot or by moped or jeep, replete with remote villages tucked away in rugged mountains. Stay at one of the island’s boutique hotels and you can reward yourself for your exertions with a spa treatment and a stint in the Jacuzzi. If you’re the kind of person who can only unwind by being active, then head for Kokkari. The former fishing village on the north of the island is picturesque but has a pebbly beach and is frequently blasted by blustery winds: hardly an alluring combination for sun worshippers. However, Kokkari has turned this apparent minus into a plus by transforming itself into a windsurfing hotspot. Daily classes for all levels from beginner to advanced free-stylers are offered at the Samos Windsurf and Bike Centre in several different languages. They also have a wide range of equipment for rent if you’re confident enough to go it alone.

It’s hard to imagine Pythagoras on a pair of water skis. However, if the ancient Greek mathematician were to return to his birthplace, this would be just one of the high octane water sports he could sample while taking a break from geometry. Pythagorion (See the connection?) is the best base to try water sports; Wind and Water, located right next to the Doryssa, one of the island’s five-star hotels, hires out motorboats, Jet Skis and sea-kayaks. Samos Dive Center, also based in Pythagorion, offers certified training for those interested in heading underwater from the bubblemaker course for children to the PADI divemaster course for adults. If you’d rather opt for a cruise, then Samos Sail offers both bareboat and charted yachts.

Even if your budget doesn’t stretch to hiring a yacht, it’s still easy to island-hop thanks to excellent ferry connections. Nearby Patmos is a popular day-trip destination with both Greeks and foreign tourists. The main attraction? John the Baptist – not the man himself, but the UNESCO protected monastery built in his honor. Greece has its fair share of monasteries, but this one, which resembles a fortress more than a place of worship, will impress even the heathen visitor. The interior is equally striking – colorful murals which decorate the walls depict scenes from the Book of Revelations, inspired by the visions of the apocalypse St. John had while on the island. Most take a taxi to the top of the hill, but the climb isn’t demanding and will help to get you in a suitably contemplative mood. Leave enough time to lose yourself in the winding medieval streets of Chora that surround the imposing monastery, designed to disorient marauding pirates. If you’re

planning to stay for longer than a day, the island’s beaches are also stunning and for the most part, deserted. You’ll need to rent a car or bike to reach them but they’re well worth the effort.

Although almost every visitor to Greece ends up taking home a bottle of ouzo, most wish they hadn’t. Just like the Czech national spirits, Becherovka and slivovice, the anise-flavored aperitif is something of an acquired taste. Fortunately, Samos has something to offer the aspiring sommelier too. Samian wine, praised by the poet Lord Byron, has long enjoyed a worldwide reputation, especially its Muscat wine. The best place to sample the local vino is at the Samos Wine Museum. While the exhibits are interesting enough, the main draw is not the huge wooden casks or the sepia photos of farm workers from yesteryear but the tasting session at the end of the tour.

To see some of those vineyards up close and fully appreciate the island’s varied landscape, dust off your hiking boots. We stayed in Votsalakia, a resort town on the southwest of the island that might not pull in the A-listers but has enough down-to-earth tavernas and a decent enough stretch of beach to satisfy most. Just after dawn, we headed along dirt tracks uphill toward Marathokampos, a town tucked into the slope of Mt. Kerkis. The journey there on foot meant we encountered a very different Greece: An elderly gentleman riding a donkey sidesaddle and a herd of goats were almost as surprised to see us as we were to see them. Marathokampos wasn’t considered worthy of much of a mention in our guidebook but having the chance to explore its mazes of white-washed passages and tiny step lanes with only the occasional stray cat for company was one of the highlights of our trip. For the hardcore hiker, there are more demanding trails on Mt. Ampelos where the adventurous can visit the breathtaking villages of Manolates and Vourliotes.

These may be tough times for the Greek economy but the upside is that there are plenty of last-minute deals for the discerning traveler to take advantage of. Despite the protests in Athens, its very much business as usual on the islands, so provided you secure a direct flight, you’re unlikely to run into difficulties. Beware Greeks bearing bonds, but don’t let the debt crisis deter you from making Samos your autumn holiday destination.

Lisette Allen can be reached at
[email protected]


Tim Geithner: European Leaders Can and Must Manage Debt Crisis



Tim Geithner: European Leaders Can and Must Manage Debt Crisis

ForexTV.com (New York) by Dylan Tulic

U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner on Wednesday urged European leaders to act more forcefully to address the spiraling European debt crisis, but expressed confidence that they have the capacity to get it done.

Speaking at the CNBC and Institutional Investor Delivering Alpha Conference, the Treasury Secretary indicated that he thought that European leaders were finally beginning to understand the magnitude of the problem on their hands.

“They recognize that they have been behind the curve. They recognize that it will take more force behind their commitments,” he said. “There is no chance that the major countries of Europe will let their institutions be at risk in the eyes of the market. There is not a chance. This is their challenge and they have the economic and the financial capacity to meet this challenge.”

The treasury secretary will travel to Europe for the second time in a week on Friday in a further attempt to press European leaders to resolve the crisis. This past weekend he attended a meeting of G7 finance ministers in Marseilles, France. On Friday he will attend a meeting of the European Economic and Financial Affairs Council, or Ecofin, to be held in Wroclaw, Poland.

The comments came ahead of a scheduled tele-summit between French President Nicolas Sarkozy, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou, where Sarkozy and Merkel were to press Papandreou over Greece’s lack of progress in meeting the fiscal goals set as a condition for its bailout.

Geithner’s comments sought to reinforce news that Merkel had moved to rebuke the notion that a Greek bankruptcy was imminent or that the country would be ejected from the eurozone.

Global markets have been turbulent as traders have priced in an expectation of an imminent Greek default. Particularly hard hit have been shares of banks that own large amounts of Greek sovereign debt. On Wednesday, Moody’s Investor Service downgraded the credit ratings of Societe Generale and Credit Agricole, two French banks with large exposures to Greece, and kept a third, BNP Paribas, on review.

Forex research by ForexTV.com





Sarkozy, Merkel ‘Convinced’ Greece Will Remain in Euro Area

September 14, 2011, 3:50 PM EDT

By Helene Fouquet and Eleni Chrepa

(Updates with analyst comment in sixth paragraph.)

Sept. 14 (Bloomberg) — French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel said they are “convinced” Greece will remain in the euro area and that Greek budget cuts will restore stability to markets amid international calls for Europe to step up crisis-fighting efforts.

The leaders of Europe’s two biggest economies issued a statement after they spoke to Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou by telephone today. Papandreou committed to meet deficit-reduction targets demanded as a condition for an international bailout, according to statements distributed by the governments in Athens, Berlin and Paris.

Sarkozy and Merkel “are convinced that the future of Greece is in the euro zone,” the French statement said.

European governments are aiming to ratify a July 21 agreement to bolster the euro bailout fund and extend a second rescue to Greece. Investor skittishness over the spread of the debt crisis has raised banks’ funding costs and roiled markets worldwide.

U.S. stocks extended gains and the euro advanced against the dollar after the statements, with the Standard Poor’s 500 Index climbing as much as 1.7 percent. The euro strengthened 0.5 percent to $1.375 at 3 p.m. in New York trading as futures on the Euro Stoxx 50 Index added more than 4 percent.

The statements were “a good thing,” said John Doyle, a strategist in Washington at currency-trading firm Tempus Consulting Inc. “They’re just words at this point, but that’s why we’re seeing the euro pop against the dollar.”

Geithner’s Travels

Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner will travel to Wroclaw, Poland this week to attend for the first time a session of the European Union’s Economic and Financial Affairs Council. Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao today called on other countries to “put their houses in order.”

Underscoring divisions in Europe, European Commission President Jose Barroso today said he was close to proposing options on joint euro-area bond sales, putting officials in Brussels on a collision course with Germany over steps to contain the debt crisis.

“The commission will soon present options for the introduction of euro bonds,” Barroso told the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, today, prompting applause from lawmakers who have backed the idea. “Some of these options could be implemented within the terms of the current treaty; others would require treaty change.”

In the three-way call today, Papandreou committed to enacting policies demanded by the EU and International Monetary fund to keep the bailout funds flowing.

‘Bumpy’ Road

“I am skeptical that this will help to reassure markets,” said Tullia Bucco, an economist at UniCredit Global Research in Milan. “The road to the implementation of the second aid package is still quite long and may prove bumpy.”

The Greek Cabinet this month endorsed measures to help meet deficit targets of 17.1 billion euros ($23.6 billion) in 2011 and 14.9 billion euros in 2012, covering a 2 billion-euro shortfall for this year that has been exacerbated by a deepening recession.

Papandreou said Sept. 10 that the government’s top priority is “to save the country from bankruptcy” and said he would do whatever is necessary to meet targets.

Putting austerity programs into place “is indispensable to establish sustainable and balanced growth in Greece,” according to the statement issued in Paris. “The success of the Greek plan will provide stability to the euro zone.”

–With assistance by Natalie Weeks and Maria Petrakis in Athens and Catarina Saraiva in New York. Editors: James Herting, Craig Stirling

To contact the reporters on this story: Helene Fouquet in Paris at [email protected]; Eleni Chrepa in Athens at [email protected]

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James Hertling at [email protected]


Swazi king wants bailout from IMF, World Bank

MANZINI — Swazi King Mswati III said Wednesday that the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank should come to his country’s rescue, as they have for troubled nations like Greece and Portugal.

“When they come to visit us, they do not come in the same spirit and that is a cause for concern,” he said at the opening of a two-day “dialogue” that the palace is promoting as a step out of its crippling financial crisis.

Labour unions that organised five days of anti-government protests last week are boycotting the meeting, and police blocked a small protest by civic and religious groups at the start of Mswati’s “Smart Partnership Dialogue”.

They accuse Mswati, Africa’s last absolute monarch, of bankrupting the nation with his lavish lifestyle, including 13 wives who each have their own palace.

Mswati, who arrived at the meeting in a luxury car, admitted that his country’s economy was “not a good sight to see”.

The IMF has refused to grant loans to Swaziland until government takes steps to rein in spending.

While the IMF has called for trimming the public wage bill, it has also urged the government to reduce its travel budget and focus more on health and education.

“We are given timelines that are difficult to meet,” Mswati complained of the recommendations.

“I am quite confused as to which advice to take. The IMF has its own advice, the ILO (International Labour Organisation) has its own advice and the UN has its own advice. This puts us in a predicament knowing the state of the economy,” he said.

Unable to access international loans, Mswati has won a $343 million (237 million euro) bailout from South Africa, but the money has yet to be released.

As a condition for the loan, Pretoria insisted that Mswati open a “national dialogue”, which the meeting Wednesday intended to address.

About 1,000 people attended the talks, including students, business leaders, academics and government officials. Representatives of organisations, such as unions, are not allowed unless they speak only as individuals.

Copyright © 2011 AFP. All rights reserved.
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Germany, France vow to keep Greece in the euro fold

Calling Greece an integral part of the Eurozone, the leaders of Germany and France vowed Wednesday to keep the currency union intact and to stave off a disruptive default by Athens as it carries out painful reforms to help beat back the debt crisis engulfing the region.

At the same time, Italy, another debt-ridden Eurozone country caught in investors’ cross hairs, approved a contentious new austerity plan in an effort to bring down a public debt that exceeds $2 trillion.

Days of market swings and mixed messages over a possible Greek default prompted an emergency conference call Wednesday evening between Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou and the heads of Europe’s two biggest nations, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

The three agreed that Greece ought to remain in the Eurozone, despite a growing number of calls for it to be cut loose, and that a second international bailout for the Mediterranean nation should come into force as quickly as possible. The $150-billion rescue plan, on top of a similar package last year, was crafted by Eurozone leaders in July but remains subject to the approval of national parliaments.

A spokesman for the Greek government, Elias Mossialos, said Merkel, Sarkozy and Papandreou agreed on the “need to swiftly proceed with the implementation” of the second bailout. The three also sought to discourage the notion of a Greek exit from the Eurozone, saying Greece was “an integral part of Europe,” Mossialos said.

Whether international markets will find the assurances convincing is another story. Many investors had been hoping that the conference call would result in more concrete action by Berlin and Paris to shore up Athens, which will go into bankruptcy if it doesn’t receive its next installment of emergency loans from last year’s bailout package, due by month’s end.

Those funds, worth about $11 billion, are contingent on whether the European Union and the International Monetary Fund determine that Greece is meeting its targets on spending cuts and tax increases.

Although EU and IMF inspectors abruptly broke off talks with the Greek government this month, there are signs that the next loans will be disbursed on schedule now that Papandreou’s government has pledged to impose a controversial new property tax to generate more revenue.

In their 25-minute conversation, Merkel and Sarkozy emphasized to Papandreou the importance of Greece following through on its commitments to slash its budget deficit, statements from the two leaders’ offices said Wednesday evening.

But the debt crisis has spread beyond Greece’s borders and is now pounding Italy, whose enormous debt load is causing investors to step back in alarm and make it much more expensive for the Italian government to borrow money.

Under intense diplomatic and market pressures, representatives in the lower chamber of Italy’s Parliament approved a $70-billion austerity plan that was weeks in the making and that sparked large public protests.

The markets have hammered Italy for taking so long to come up with a program of spending cuts. The new plan, backed by Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, includes a tax on the rich and acceleration of a plan to raise the age at which women are allowed to retire.

Hundreds of protesters thronged the streets of Rome as the vote on the austerity plan took place Wednesday evening. It passed by a margin of 14 votes.

“The maneuver is wrong and unjust,” Antonio di Pietro, leader of the opposition Italy of Values party, told his fellow lawmakers. He called it a “depressive budget” that punished ordinary Italians.

“You are selling smoke and stealing the roast,” he said.

The wide-ranging nature of the European debt crisis was further underscored by the expected but nonetheless embarrassing cut Wednesday in the credit rating of two of France’s biggest banks.

Moody’s downgraded Societe Generale and Credit Agricole a notch each because of their exposure to Greek debt. A third French banking giant, BNP Paribas, remains under review by the ratings agency.

After Greece’s own ailing banks, French and German financial institutions hold the largest portfolios of Athens’ debt and would take a substantial hit if the nation went bust. The fate of their countries’ banking sectors in the event of a Greek default is as much on the minds of Merkel and Sarkozy as the crisis of confidence in the euro that such a move would trigger, some analysts say.

French officials tried to downplay the drop in the perceived creditworthiness of the two big banks, saying that both have a sufficient capital cushion to withstand the shock if Athens declared bankruptcy.

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Special correspondent Anthee Carassava in Athens contributed to this report.