Violence erupts in Greece over austerity measures; China condemns Japan shrine visit; South Korean President Lee Myung-bak makes a surprise visit to site of shelling by North Korea; Russian opposition leader detained; Iran warns Israel to back off over nuclear sites; and more
Top of the Agenda: Violence Breaks Out in Greece Over Austerity
Greek workers walked off the job for the second time in three weeks while hundreds of youths pelted homemade weapons at riot police on Thursday in the latest anti-austerity demonstrations (AP). Twenty thousand protestors gathered in Athens ahead of a two-day EU summit in Brussels, where no major decisions are expected to be announced regarding Greece's $17.7 billion austerity package. The coalition government of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, which has said the country will run out of cash by the end of the month, has been holding negotiations with Greece's troika of creditors to secure loans needed to avoid bankruptcy.
"Germans must have a frank public discussion about what it means to be European, how good European citizens should behave toward other Europeans and why a strong Europe is good for German interests in a world dominated by the United States, China and emerging powers like India and Brazil. Without such a discussion, and real concessions to Greece, a Greek exit is inevitable — and with it the triumph of parochialism in Europe," writes Nicholas Sambanis for the New York Times.
"The severe austerity ordered on Greece by the troika of IMF, the EU and the European Central Bank was never going to improve the country's growth prospects; it has also failed in its own terms of reducing the national debt pile. No wonder then that the country is racked by regular protests, or that ministers are quitting the coalition rather than get pushed out of power by their constituents," says an editorial for the Guardian.
"Sooner rather than later, Greece or another peripheral country will say no to further austerity measures and economic stagnation. When the first country breaks free from the Euro, we really are in unchartered territory. There is a legitimate fear that this will set off a crisis as large as, or larger, than the 2008 financial debacle. The country or countries that leave will have a banking system in shambles and no access to foreign lending. Stay tuned; it's going to be a wild and bumpy ride," write William T. Dickens and Stephen J. Rose for Forbes.
China Angered Over Japan Shrine Visit
China condemned a visit by two Japanese ministers on Thursday to Tokyo's controversial Yasukuni shrine (NYT), seen by many as a symbol of Japan's wartime militarism, as tensions rise between the two Asian nations.
SOUTH KOREA: Korean President Lee Myung-bak made a surprise visit (Yonhap) on Thursday to an island near the DMZ that was shelled by Pyongyang two years ago, vowing to punish any further military provocation by the North.