Eurozone Finance Ministers to Discuss Release of Funds for Greece
Eurozone finance ministers were set to meet in Brussels on Monday evening to discuss whether Greece should receive new funds. The Greek government hopes the group will look favourably upon its situation after the country’s government passed a crippling budget for 2013 on Sunday. The budget’s approval was a condition for the released of a €31.5 billion tranche of the country’s rescue package. Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras stated that his country could run out of money within days if the new loan was not approved. German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaüble said it is unlikely that the funds would be approved this evening. “We all want to help Greece, but we won’t be put under pressure”, said Schaüble. Greece is expected to make an urgent bid to gather more funds in financial markets on Tuesday if it does not receive the money in time to cover debt payments due on Friday.
Acting BBC Director-General to ‘Get a Grip’ on Scandal-Torn BBC
Acting BBC Director-General Tim Davie pledged to “get a grip” on the embattled organisation following the resignation of former Director-General George Entwistle on Saturday. Entwistle resigned after a report on one of the BBC’s main investigative news programmes, Newsnight, led to former Tory treasurer Lord McAlpine being wrongly accused of child abuse. “The first decision I have made is to get a grip of that, take action and build trust by putting a clear line of command in. Separately, we are going to look at the individual process, and there may be disciplinary action. But I want to be fair to people. I don’t subscribe to the view that you should act very quickly in that regard and be unreasonable”, said Davie in his first televised interview since taking over the BBC on Monday morning. He said, however, that reviewing Entwistle’s £450,000 payout was not in his remit.
Israel Hits Syrian Military Units in Response to Mortar Fire
Israeli tanks hit Syrian artillery units on Monday, the second day it fired against targets in the neighbouring war-torn country. “The difference is that we confirmed a direct hit this time”, said an Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) spokesman. “Yesterday it was a warning shot. Today we fired toward the source of the fire.” A mortal shell had crashed in Israeli territory from Syria on Sunday, with the IDF choosing to fire a warning shot across the border for the first time in 39 years. On Monday, Israel responded to a mortar shell that hit a barren area near an Israeli post in the Golan Heights. “We hope they get the message this time”, said Moshe Yaalon, Israel’s Minister for Strategic Affairs, on Israeli television.
Abu Qatada Freed on Bail After Extradition Appeal
Radical Muslim cleric Abu Qatada is set to be released on bail after a court of appeals upheld his claim against extradition to Jordan. He will be released from Long Martin Prison in Worcestershire and will have to observe curfew hours. Judge John Mitting granted Qatada bail at a hearing on Monday despite the U.K. government’s repeated attempts to have him extradited. His lawyers claimed he would not get a fair trial if he was sent to Jordan, where he is accused of plotting bombings. The government said it will appeal against the ruling. “We have obtained assurances not just in relation to the treatment of Qatada himself but about the quality of the legal processes that would be followed through his trial”, said a statement from the Home Office.
Protests in Belgium Start Week of European Strikes
A demonstration was held on Sunday against the closure of the Ford factory in Genk, Belgium, the beginning of a strike movement to protest the current economic conditions in Europe. Nearly 20,000 people protested against the plant’s closure, scheduled to occur at the end of 2013, which could lead to a loss of 10,000 jobs. La Libre Belgique, a Belgian daily, reports that the action comes as the country’s socialist government prepares to pass an austerity-driven budget through Parliament. The action in Genk is to be followed by strikes in France, Greece, Italy, Spain, Slovenia, Poland, Portugal and Romania. The paper notes that trade unions from northern Europe have decide not to take part in the movement, evidence of a rift between northern European countries who push for fiscal discipline and countries in the south that fear the effects of prolonged austerity.