Archive for the ‘Greece’ Category

Ukraine Accuses Russia of Cutting Off Gas to Europe

January 7, 2009

Ukrainian officials said Wednesday that Russia had cut off all gas supplies through pipelines crossing Ukrainian territory, the latest move in a devastating pricing dispute between the two neighbors that has already left a number of countries without gas.

Valentyn Zemlyansky, spokesman for state gas company Naftogaz, said Russia’s gas giant Gazprom completely stopped sending gas to European consumers at 7:44 a.m. (0544 GMT). Eighty percent of Russian gas is shipped via Ukraine.

By MARIA DANILOVA, Associated Press Writer

“Words fail us,” Zemlyansky said of Gazprom’s move.

Russia confirmed the cutoff but said it was Ukraine’s fault because it had shut down the last pipeline carrying gas from Russia.

The Russia-Ukraine natural gas dispute has hit Europe with the force of a winter storm. It has affected at least a dozen nations. Tens of thousands of people were left without heat and governments scrambled to find alternative energy sources.

Before Wednesday, Bulgaria, Greece, Macedonia, Romania, Croatia, Serbia and Turkey had all reported a halt in gas shipments, while France, Germany, Austria, Poland and Hungary had reported substantial drops in supplies from Russia.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090107/a
p_on_re_eu/eu_ukraine_russia_gas

Russia, Gazprom and the European Gas & Oil Mess

January 6, 2009

Russia sharply cut gas flows to Europe via Ukraine on Tuesday in a dramatic worsening of a pricing dispute with Kiev that threatened to disrupt supplies as far west as Italy and Germany.

Russian export monopoly Gazprom said it supplied some 65 million cubic meters (mcm) to Europe on Tuesday through ex-Soviet neighbor Ukraine, a fall of 78 percent from the 300 mcm it had been shipping since the dispute erupted on January 1.

Reuters

The European Union, dependent on Russia for a quarter of its gas, urged Moscow and Kiev to find a solution this week and German Economy Minister Michael Glos said it was very important the two sides began negotiations.

The head of Ukraine’s state energy firm said he would fly to Moscow on Thursday. Gazprom said it was ready to talk any time but did not expect Ukraine to return to the talks table for now.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20090106/ts_nm
/us_russia_ukraine_gas

**************************

By GEORGE JAHN and MARIA DANILOVA, Associated Press Writers

The RussiaUkraine natural gas dispute hit Europe with the force of a winter storm Tuesday, cutting or limiting supplies to nearly a dozen nations. Tens of thousands of people were left without heat and governments scrambled to find alternate energy sources.

Shocked by how fast the shortages were spreading, the European Union demanded a quick end to the dispute — a sharp turnaround from their earlier stance, when officials had downplayed the conflict between Moscow and Kiev as primarily a business matter.

But by Tuesday evening, gauges on delivery pipelines to six countries — including some depending totally on Russian gas — were pointing toward zero and an increasing number of other nations reported significant reductions.

The Ukrainian gas company Naftogaz said Russia’s gas giant Gazprom had sharply reduced its shipments to Europe through pipelines crossing Ukraine, triggering the cuts.

Bulgaria, Greece, Macedonia, Romania, Croatia and Turkey all reported a halt in gas shipments, and even France, Germany, Austria and Poland reported substantial drops in supplies from Russia.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090106/ap_on_
bi_ge/eu_ukraine_russia_gas

**************************

What Is Gazprom?

Gazprom is the world’s biggest producer and exporter of natural gas — and Russia’s most powerful company.
It controls 20 percent of the world’s natural gas reserves and operates the world’s largest gas distribution network — approximately 157,000 kilometers of pipelines covering an area from Europe to the Far East, according to its Web site.

Gazprom exports energy to 32 countries and provides around 25 percent of the European Union’s gas supplies.

Last month it reported an 85 percent increase in net profits to $20.8 billion for the first six months of 2008. In 2007 it reported annual profits totaling nearly $61 billion. In 2008 the Financial Times placed it fourth on its list of the world’s top 500 corporations, as ranked by market capitalization.

CNN

Formed in 1989 to replace the Soviet Ministry of the Gas Industry, Gazprom is closely tied to the Russian government, which owns a controlling 50 percent stake in the company. Current Russian President Dmitry Medvedev is a former Gazprom chairman.

In recent years, an increasingly confident Moscow has used Gazprom to assert its authority over Russia’s former sphere of influence by offering heavily subsidized gas to ex-Soviet countries such as Ukraine and Belarus.

But that policy has led to disputes as Gazprom has then sought to raise prices.

Read the rest:
http://www.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/europe/0
1/06/gazprom.profile/index.html?section=cnn_latest

Obama May Bring Hope But One Third of Global Citizens Expect Worse Year

January 3, 2009

One third of adults around the world are worried about what the year will bring, according to the Voice of the People survey released by Gallup International. 35 per cent of respondents in 46 countries expect 2009 to be worse than 2008.

The proportion of respondents who expect the next year to be “the same” has remained stable in the past three annual surveys. In 2006 and 2007, roughly two-in-five respondents expected the next year to be better. The proportion has dropped to 27 per cent this time.

At least 48 per cent of respondents in Kosovo, China, Australia, Lebanon and Colombia expect a better year, while at least 60 per cent of those in Hong Kong, Iceland, Singapore, Ireland and Greece believe conditions will deteriorate.

Angus Reid Global Monitor

Since 2007, defaults on so-called subprime mortgages—credit given to high-risk borrowers—in the United States have caused volatility in domestic and global financial markets and raised concerns that the U.S. economy could fall into a recession. A recession is defined as two consecutive quarters of negative growth. The crisis has affected the global financial and credit systems.

On Dec. 31, outgoing U.S. treasury secretary Hank Paulson discussed the crisis, saying, “We’re dealing with something that is really historic and we haven’t had a playbook. The reason it has been difficult is first of all, these excesses have been building up for many, many years. Secondly, we had a hopelessly outdated global architecture and regulatory authorities in the U.S.”

Read the rest:
http://www.angus-reid.com/polls/view
/32541/a_third_of_global_citizens_ex
pect_worse_year

Greek fighting: the eurozone’s weakest link starts to crack

December 10, 2008

The last time I visited Greece, I was caught in the middle of a tear-gas charge by police in Thessaloniki – a remarkably unpleasant experience, if you have not tried it. My eyes were in screaming pain for an hour.
Protesters smashed up the shops on the main drag, broke the windows of my hotel, and torched a few cars.

So the latest four-day episode in Athens and other Greek cities comes as no great surprise. The Greeks are a feisty people. This is meant as a compliment – broadly speaking – just in case any Greek readers should take it the wrong way. Hitler was so impressed by Greek bravery that he accorded Greek soldiers full military honours, almost the sole example among captive nations in the East – or at least professed to do so at first.

That said, these riots are roughly what eurosceptics expected to see, at some point, at the periphery of the euro-zone as the slow-burn effects (excuse the pun) of Europe’s monetary union begin to corrode the democratic legitimacy of governments.

By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard
The Telegraph (UK)

Gallery Photo
Protesters throw stones at police in the Greek city of Thessaloniki

Note two stories in Kathimerini (English Edition)

“Athens riots spin totally out of control”

And an editorial: “Greece has gone up in flames and the concept of democracy and law and order has been eliminated”

Without wanting to rehearse all the pros and cons of euro membership yet again, or debate whether EMU is a “optimal currency area”, there is obviously a problem for countries like Greece that were let into EMU for political reasons before their economies had been reformed enough to cope with the rigours of euro life –  over the long run.

In the case of Greece, of course, Athens was found guilty by Eurostat of committing “statistical achemy” to get into the system – ie, they lied about their deficits.

Be that as it may. Greece’s euro membership has now led to a warped economy. The current account deficit is 15pc of GDP, the eurozone’s highest by far. Indeed, the deficit ($53bn) is the sixth biggest in the world in absolute terms — quite a feat for a country of 11m people.

Year after year of high inflation has eroded the competitive base of the economy. This is an insidious and slow effect, and very hard to reverse. Tourists are slipping away to Turkey, or Croatia. It will take a long time to lure them back.

The underlying rot was disguised by the global credit bubble, and by the Greek property boom. It is now being laid bare.

Greece has a public debt of 93 per cent of GDP, well above the Maastricht limit. This did not matter in 2007 when bond spreads over German Bunds were around 26 basis points, meaning that investors were willing to treat all eurozone debt as more or less equivalent.

Read the rest:
http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/ambrose_evan
s-pritchard/blog/2008/12/10/greek_fightin
g_the_eurozones_weakest_link_starts_to_crack

Riots in Greece, Day Three

December 8, 2008

Hundreds of students threw fire bombs at police in the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki on Monday in a third day of riots triggered by the fatal shooting of a teenager by police and fueled by rising economic hardship.

By Daniel Flynn and Dina Kyriakidou

Dozens of people have been injured and scores of businesses destroyed in Athens and Thessaloniki during Greece‘s worst rioting in decades, which has piled pressure on a conservative government already falling behind in opinion polls.

The streets of Thessaloniki filled with tear gas on Monday as police chased some 300 left-wing protestors, detaining two youths. More trouble was expected later in the day in Athens, where the Greek Communist Party has called a protest rally despite the arrest of two police officers for the boy’s killing.

A rioter clashes with police on December 7 during a massive ... 
A rioter clashes with police on December 7 during a massive demonstration near the main police station in Athens. A fragile calm has returned to Greece after the country was rocked by heavy rioting at the weekend following a police shooting that left a 15-year-old boy dead.(AFP/Aris Messinis)

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20081208/w
l_nm/us_greece_shooting