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tv   HAR Dtalk  BBC News  June 28, 2017 12:30am-1:01am BST

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by a major cyber attack. the ransomware attack began in ukraine and russia, before spreading to companies in europe, the us and india. it's exploiting a similar loophole to the wannacry virus, which caused havoc last month. google has been given 90 days to put its house in order, after being hit with a record fine by the european union. the eu says google‘s search engine gives an unfair advantage to its own shopping websites. and this story is trending on bbc.com tennis star serena williams has posed naked for the cover of this month's vanity fair magazine. she was six months pregnant when this picture was taken by celebrity photgrapher annie liebovitz. she's said she plans to be back on court by january. that's all from me now. stay with bbc world news. now on bbc news it's time for hardtalk. welcome to hardtalk.
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i'm stephen sackur. greece's debt crisis and economic collapse used to be headline news, not so much any more. but does that mean the country is in recovery? not if you ask your average greek. almost half of all young people are jobless, the elderly continue to see their pensions cut, austerity bites deeper with every new release of european bailout money. my guest is greece's economy minister, dimitri papadimitriou. is there any way out of the hole greece is in? dimitri papadimitriou, welcome to hardtalk.
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thank you very much for having me. there you were at the end of last year, enjoying your post as a highly respected academic economist in the united states. you were plucked from that into a senior ministerialjob, the economy minister in athens. do you regret taking thatjob, given what has happened in the last six months? actually, i don't. i think it's an important challenge. i cherish the opportunity to serve my country and i think i can do some good. and therefore, over the last seven months that i've been in office, i have tried to find what is the best approach to turn around the economy, along with the help of my colleagues, not only in the ministry but in the other cabinets. your colleagues, you put it. i mean, your boss, let's face it, alexis tsipras, a man with whom, in ideological terms and economic analysis, you share very little.
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that must make your job pretty difficult. i think that there is a lot more that we share. he is not an economist, he's an engineer. he's a radical socialist. on the other hand, he is a realist. he knows exactly what's needed in order to get the country out of the fix that it's in. i think he has tried to do that, despite the false start, if you like, in 2015. certain mistakes were made but i think what there is now is reality. it is interesting that you put it that way, that you believe at the beginnings of his government in 2015 were a false start. many supporters of syriza,
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the radical left party which he leads, would say precisely the opposite, that in 2015, tsipras represented something important and new and radical and that he has betrayed those principles because in essence, having come to power saying he would, to be blunt about it, tell the europeans to go to hell in terms of the imposition of austerity, he's now bowed his head and is implementing that same austerity. you know the european union and the eurozone has an architectural problem. therefore, what was thought in 2015, if it was pointed out the difficulties and the problem is that the eu had in dealing with the greek crisis, which was not really a greek crisis but a european crisis, could have been solved. it turned out the eu leaders had no interest whatsoever in seeing what was difficult, what was wrong, and they concentrated on greece.
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i think that at the end, the realisation came that perhaps in order to change the european union or the eurozone, you need to start from greece first. my point is that, in essence, mr tsipras has betrayed the mandate that he was given in 2015. let me quote you the words of a greek economist who says this. "greek prime minister tsipras didn't change greece or europe but they simply changed themselves. from anti—systemic austerity rebels, they have turned into implementers of the new troika—greek deal", the troika being the europeans plus imf. he says, "this deal is very similar in spirit and content to those that they denounced as treacherous deals all the way back to 2010." he has a point, doesn't he? well, i would disagree with that. because i think that this government
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has changed a lot in greece. it has brought it to the situation that one member state needs to be like other member states. i think that he has gone through serious negotiation processes, achieved a lot more than the previous governments had the possibility of doing. and he has reached the point where he has created alliances with many of the south european nations that didn't have a chance before to talk and to actually support greece as we have seen in the last... with respect, mr tsipras has simply left a trail of broken promises. let me just quote to you two different things that happened in close conjunction. april 25, 2017, there you sit as one of his cabinet ministers when tsipras says, "greece won't implement tax reforms without a debt deal in place".
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and yet, by may 19, less than a month later, greek lawmakers, backed by mr tsipras, approved pension cuts and tax hikes. that was before the latest deal was done with the european union. yet another broken promise. butjune 15, one has to take a look and see what the agreement was. in april, we didn't know what the agreement would be. we thought in may 15, we would have the agreement we have now. he didn't make any promises that he actually did not deliver. what he said is whatever streamlining would take place in pensions, whatever broadening of the tax... let's not use words like streamlining, let's just say cuts. 0k, cuts, whatever. new severe cuts in greek pensions. however you want to use it, at the end of the day, those statutory forums these days they prefer to use, have come with opposite measures
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that actually leave a net effect. any addition to that, if you take a look at the... i'm not sure the greeks are going to be convinced what you're saying at all. in fact, i'm pretty sure they're not. 76% of greeks in the latest poll disapprove of what tsipras is doing and it's quite clear that if there was to be an election tomorrow, the centre—right party would thrash, would trounce syriza. people have lost faith in tsipras because he no longer stands for what he did stand for when he was elected. no, no, no. let's not look at the polls because we know they give you a false indication. you can use your own country. you thought that in fact the polls showed dramatic superiority in the tories and they didn't do very well. so the polls, i think, have some usefulness, depends how they are being drawn, but you can't count on them. i wouldn't be so sure that if the elections were to be held
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today, the differences would be that much and i can't really predict... let's notjust talk polls, let's talk the reality that the greeks face every single day. 22% national unemployment rate. for under 25s, the rate is well over a0%, getting close to 50%. the minimum wage slashed by 20% since the crisis began. 43% of greek pensioners now living on less than 660 euros per month. health—care spending down by a0%. i could go on. for the average greek, life today is intolerable and yet they've just seen in recent weeks mr tsipras who's supposed to be the defender of their interest, doing another deal with the bailout powers which means that the austerity they've suffered is going to get even worse. you cannot load everything on this government. the pension cuts began in 2010. there have been many,
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many more cuts in the pensions. i understand that which is why, the people, believe tsipras might be the guy to say enough is enough. well, you know, you are a member of the eurozone and you have to continue as a member of the eurozone because that was a mandate that this government had and therefore, you need to negotiate the best possible solution you can negotiate. and i think at the end of the day, if you were to look at what has been negotiated, it's actually a plan at some significant cost, no doubt about that — the pension cuts and tax rates — but the fact is you have to take a look at what it is. you've got a roadmap to the fiscal balances, you've got an indication that the debt is going to be resolved in a serious way.
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crosstalk. the debt mountain problem. where is your evidence? i'll come back to it but let me complete it. yeah, but i can't let you get away with statements that simply aren't born out of any evidence whatsoever. i'm not afraid to answer your question. what i'm suggesting is if you look at the total plan of what is agreed, it provides all kinds of other opportunities for people to grow, for people to see better days. where is this roadmap that you talk about to actually tackling the central problem that greece faces which is that you have a national debt that is over 180% of your gdp and just servicing that debt drags your economy down every single year. as long as that debt mountain overshadows everything else, it is impossible to see how greece can recover. i can take a look what's happening this year in 2017. it is a year of real growth.
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the last quarter of 2016, we saw a stabilisation of the economy because there was zero growth. in this quarter, all of the indicators show the health of the economy, to actually be positive. the point is... i am here for a purpose. i'm visiting london for a purpose, i was in new york for a purpose, i was in washington for a purpose, i was in boston for a purpose. the invest in public is dramatically changing. there are significant investments taking place in greece and therefore, greece is on the road to recovery. you think is national community has confidence in greece? i absolutely believe that. so you saw the annual report from ernst and young for 2016 which suggested that still greece is in the bottom quartile in terms of the investment climate comparing all european countries? i am giving you what i have observed in the last week in my visit with many investors. that's anecdotal, i'm
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talking about statistics. i'm looking at individuals who have made investments. there are serious investments that have taken place in greece. have you looked at your fdi figures compared with other european nations? they are extraordinarily poor. i've looked at the fdi figures between this quarter, the previous quarter, and i see a growth, that's what i see. from an extraordinarily low base. but it's growing. that is what i'm interested in, it's growing and it will grow faster. this is what i see out there, this is what i read. therefore, that comes also with actual investments. philip morris, calamos group, blackstone, fortress, these are significant funds that are invested in greece. you promised me that you would come back to my fundamental question about how greece deals with the debt mountain which overshadows your economy. you still haven't
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given me the answer. we know the germans still insist that there can be no long—term debt relief and restructuring until they are convinced that the greek economy is on a different, better track and right now, the german finance minister, wolfgang schaeuble, and others, are simply not convinced. but the germans have decided along with everyone else to be partners in the growth strategy for greece. this is why if you look at what was agreed, you will see that they have agreed to support greece in its growth potential, either by creating the national development bank, providing more european funds and by being able to adjust the maturity and the suspension of the interstate payments should the growth of sanctions differ from the actual growth. you accused wolfgang schaeuble of being, and i use this quote direct from you, dishonest in the way he blocked debt relief
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for your country. what i told the reporter, that mr schaeuble appeared disingenuous, not dishonest. it's not my fault that the lady was not english—speaking. with respect, whether it was dishonest or disingenuous, neither are very positive when it comes to your view of germany's role. it is a problem and it is recognised even by his own individuals in the spd. the problem was... he is not in the spd, he is in the cdu. but he has a coalition. it is the cdu which calls the shots here. there are other german people as well as colleagues of his in the euro group that believes he has had a difficulty in understanding that when it was discussed in 2017, there would be starting the serious discussions about the debt, the fact this should take place. wolfgang schaeuble, in malta,
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april 2017, said this: "i don't think at all there will be future "debt measures from greece. "that is the german position." that was not the position that was agreed last year. therefore one has to be able to understand whether mr schaeuble speaks for himself or for the european union. but when we come back to this question when you in your assignment given to you by the government to go to new york, to london, beijing, wherever and appeal to the world for fdi, foreign direct investment, in your country, you have a big problem when the key players in the eurozone, the germans, are still saying that the time is not right to offer greece long—term debt restructuring.
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that is a problem. i see something different where i visit. what i see people who have realised that there are opportunities in greece to invest, there are opportunities to make money because no investor makes investments without those being profitable and that in fact, there is a labour force extremely well—trained, university graduates, that can produce the goods and services, high value—added... 450,000 of them have left the country since 2008, graduates, young greeks. this is exactly what we want to do, we want to keep them. that you have lost 450,000 of them. but listen, when the country goes through a crisis, these are some of the consequences. the question is, what do you do to avert the continuation of this exodus? i think the government has a plan to eliminate that, to stop that. it's a growth strategy which i think
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is going to be implemented, it being implemented and that is why some of the investors have seen it, they have seen the opportunities. they want to come in and invest. you talk of this group of investors and i have looked across the piece, i don't frankly see so many of them, but i do see one country where there is real investment in putting real money into greece today and that is china. china has already made significant investments. and the us, and the us. but china is very striking. a 51% stake in piraeus port. i think they may have done a massive deal to take over he redevelopment of the olympic park, not sure if that is finalised. it has been not finalised yet. but it is in the offing. a senior chinese official says he his desire is to see the partnership between china and greece taken to a new level. are you entirely happy with the idea that china is buying key assets and has big ambitions
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in your country? it's not only china, though. but i would like to talk about china. i don't know what this means in terms of that new level. what i know is... i am asking you. i don't know whether i would characterise it that way because i see other interests, not only from china but also the us and from austria, i see from germany, the german—owned hellenic telecommunications announced investment of 1.5 billion euros over the next five years, 400 million to be spent this year. so i don't think there is any concern from deutsche telekom. perhaps the concerns are a little different with china. for example, june 18, 2017, greece vetoes a european union condemnation of china's human rights record at the un. senior european diplomats told the press it disgraceful. what is greece up to? i can't answer that question, i don't not know enough about it. that is not something i was involved and i can't really answer the question. what i want to say... as economy minister, would it worry you if greece was exercising that kind of veto on a key human rights expression
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because of a desire to win chinese investment, would that concern you? but you are drawing that conclusion that the reason was done... notjust me, across europe. maybe they have other considerations that were in play. it's not only that... what other conceivable consideration for greece to isolate itself from 27 other eu members on a key expression of disquiet about china's human rights record, what other considerations other than economic? i do not know enough about the chinese human rights issues. you said there must have been other considerations. you are drawing a conclusion and i am not ready to accept it because i do not know enough about it. i don't know something about it, why would i answer? why would i agree?
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you told me there are other considerations, you might have an idea what they were. i don't know whether it is only on the economic considerations. let us consider, as we finish, these words of a former finance minister, mr venizelos. he said this earlier this year: "anti—european sentiment "in my country is growing. "what was once a very friendly country towards europe "is becoming increasingly less so and that is a great danger, a lot of risk." if you believe in this, mr venizelos had a lot to do with it because he passed a number of legislations and he made some agreements that did not bode well with the greek people so let's not talk about what the opposition says. let's talk about what is happening now, what the plans are, what will happen between now and two years and the expectation is between now and two years, with the 2% growth rate which was agreed by the european union, by even the imf
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and close to 3% next year, i think the picture will be different. so look at 2019 and then we can talk about that. but do you least take his point, despite partisan politics, that right now there is a danger that the greek public are going to be deeply disillusioned with europe, the european project, the eurozone if things do not improve quickly? i'm not a politician and i do not make forecasts. what i see is what the evidence is and based off the evidence what i see, on i see, whether it is official or anecdotal, i see a different greece coming. there are better days. i do not really care what mr venizelos says. he shouldn't be proud of what he did. so there i don't want to talk about him or his health. what i am interested is to see what moscovici said about how greece has performed. i want to see what other people said, who carry some weight. mr venizelos doesn't.
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how long do you have to turn the greek economy around? i have until the next election which is going to be in 2019. dimitri papadimitriou, thank you for being on hardtalk. my pleasure. good morning. since the start of the week, the weather has turned. we've seen more rain around. this picture was taken at swanage, in dorset. instead of the sunshine on monday we had the rain of tuesday. a lot of rain far
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and wide in the uk. 56 millimetres already in the isle of man. more recently we saw the wettest weather in the south—east, spilling into east anglia. both those areas seeing about a months worth of rain in 24 hours or so. and with rain developing more widely, particularly in england and wales, some heavy rain and a lot of water on the roads. surface spray and even into the morning rush—hour it could be tricky on the roads, if you are going to be travelling. you can see how extensive the rain is in england and wales by wednesday morning. still some heavy burst too. briefly rain for northern ireland, but for much of scotland it could stay dry. brightening up in the south—east, but unlikely to do so in the south—west of england. the threat of more rain coming in here and the rain never really clears from wales. it does brighten up and turns a bit warmer in the south—east later. it could trigger heavy showers. further north, much cooler in the north midlands, especially northern england. with the rain, quite a keen
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wind off the north sea. it should turn dryer and perhaps brighter in northern ireland and this time the driest weather will be across scotland on wednesday. again, chilly with the winds off the north sea. that rain continues to push northwards through wednesday evening and wednesday night. so it will turn wetter in scotland and northern ireland. the rain still around in northern england and north wales, but to the south and south—east it may well be dry. quite a warm night as well, but the big story is the rain that's continuing. the wettest weather will be for scotland and northern ireland. eventually turning brighter for northern england. for many parts of england and wales it could be dry, with brighter skies. a bit of warmth as well and humidity. but further north, where we have the rain and the winds coming in from the east, it will feel cold. quite a bit colder than it should do for this time of year. low pressure responsible for all the rain, which doesn't know whether it's coming or going. as we've seen it is moving northwards. 0n the friday that low pressure
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drags on southwards again into england and wales, where we could have heavier bursts, especially in the east of england. turning dry for scotland and ireland. some sunshine, but again stronger winds, this time coming from the north. pressure over the weekend should be higher. not completely dry, but it will be dry and warm when the sun comes out. members of the of the neo—nazi resistance movement stormed the world trade center armed with pistols and shotguns. we believe that, according to international law, that we have a right to claim certain parts of this country as ourland. i take pride in the words "ich bin ein berliner." cheering and applause chapman, prison—pale and slightly chubby, said not a single word in open court. it was left to his lawyer to explain his decision to plead guilty to murdering john lennon. he believes that onjune 8th,
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god told him to plead guilty, and that was the end of it. the medical research council have now advised the government that the great increase in lung cancer is due mainly to smoking tobacco. it was closing time for checkpoint charlie which, for 29 years, has stood on the border as a mark of allied determination to defend the city. this is a newsday on the bbc. i am rico hizon in singapore. 0ur this is a newsday on the bbc. i am rico hizon in singapore. our top stories: another global cyber attack hits shops, banks, transport, and energy networks. the us accuses russia and china of complicity in trafficking forced labour from north korea. ii'm i i'm babita sharma in london. —— i'm babita sharma in london. also in the programme. what next for google?
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the online giant is given 90 days to get its house in order after being hit with a record fine.
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