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Mar 6, 2015

Pressure to arm Kiev could increase despite risks: top U.S. diplomat

BERLIN (Reuters) – The second-highest ranking U.S. diplomat warned on Friday that pressure to arm Ukraine would increase if aggression from pro-Russian separatists persisted, even though Moscow would easily be able to send more weapons into the country than the West.

Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken told German radio (DLF) the United States was already working on supplying Kiev with non-lethal equipment, including $130 million worth of protective vests, night-vision goggles and other equipment.

Mar 4, 2015

Budget and reform plans put Ukraine on track for IMF aid, says G7

BERLIN/WASHINGTON, March 4 (Reuters) – The International
Monetary Fund and Group of Seven leading economic powers on
Wednesday praised the Ukrainian government’s determination to
reform the economy against all odds, with the G7 saying Kiev’s
new draft budget should put it on track for an IMF-led bailout.

Ukraine’s parliament approved on Monday a raft of IMF-backed
amendments to its 2015 draft budget that Kiev hopes will help it
clinch a $17.5 billion bailout from the IMF, whose board is
expected to meet next week.

Mar 3, 2015

Citing Russia and IS threat, Kosovo urges faster EU expansion

BERLIN (Reuters) – Kosovo’s Foreign Minister Hashim Thaci urged the European Union and NATO to speed up integration of Balkan states or risk the spreading influence of both Russia and Islamist extremists.

Thaci, the first prime minister of independent Kosovo until last year, told Reuters he hoped for tangible results in the coming months, such as a new EU visa regime for Kosovo.

Feb 27, 2015

German lawmakers approve Greek bailout extension

BERLIN (Reuters) – Germany’s parliament approved an extension of Greece’s bailout on Friday after Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, who has voiced doubts about whether Athens can be trusted, promised he would not let Greece “blackmail” its euro zone partners.

With 542 members of the Bundestag voting “yes”, including almost all of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s right-left coalition and the opposition Greens, it was the biggest majority so far for a euro zone rescue package. There were 32 “no” votes and 13 abstentions.

Feb 27, 2015

Schaeuble urges German lawmakers to extend Greek bailout

BERLIN, Feb 27 (Reuters) – German Finance Minister Wolfgang
Schaeuble urged parliament on Friday to take what he
acknowledged was a difficult decision and approve an extension
of Greece’s bailout, assuring them Athens would not be allowed
to “blackmail” its euro zone partners.

The 72-year-old minister, who has repeatedly voiced his own
doubts about whether the new leftist-led government in Athens
can be trusted to deliver on its reform promises, appealed to
the Bundestag lower house’s sense of responsibility for Europe.

Feb 26, 2015

Merkel hopes Moldova isn’t in Russia’s sights after Ukraine

BERLIN (Reuters) – Germany’s Angela Merkel said on Thursday she hoped Russia’s Vladimir Putin would not try the same strategy in Moldova as he had in Ukraine, and expressed support for the country’s efforts to forge stronger ties with Europe, to Moscow’s chagrin.

The chancellor, asked at a news conference with visiting Romanian President Klaus Iohannis whether she thought there was a risk that Romania’s eastern neighbor could be in Moscow’s sights, replied: “Well, we hope not.”

Feb 25, 2015

Greece sees problems repaying IMF, ECB; Germans air mistrust

ATHENS/BERLIN (Reuters) – Greece admitted on Wednesday it will struggle to make debt repayments to the IMF and the European Central Bank this year as Germany’s finance minister voiced open doubts about Athens’ trustworthiness.

A day after euro zone finance ministers agreed to a four-month extension of a financial rescue for the currency bloc’s most heavily indebted member, Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis gave a frank assessment of Greece’s financial position.

Feb 25, 2015

Germany readies reluctant approval of Greek extension

BERLIN (Reuters) – Chancellor Angela Merkel and Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble are rallying reluctant German lawmakers to approve an extension of Greece’s bailout despite Schaeuble’s avowed doubts about the credibility of Athens’ latest reform plans.

Merkel’s right-left coalition has a big enough majority to easily win a vote, expected on Friday, on extending the 240 billion euro international rescue for four months. It is set to prevail, despite vocal pockets of resistance on the right and left.

Feb 13, 2015

“Merkel mania” as hyperactive chancellor tackles Ukraine, Greece

BERLIN, Feb 13 (Reuters) – Kiev, Moscow, Munich, Washington,
Ottawa, Minsk and Brussels — all in a week’s work for Angela
Merkel, whose tireless efforts to broker peace in Ukraine and
keep Greece in the euro zone won praise even from the
chancellor’s fiercest critics in Germany.

“I don’t feel bad. And the week isn’t even over. Tomorrow is
a working day,” Merkel said late on Thursday after negotiating
for 16 hours to wrestle a ceasefire deal from Russia’s Vladimir
Putin before flying straight to Brussels to deal with the
Greeks.

Feb 11, 2015

Greenaway’s film on Sergei Eisenstein won’t please Putin’s Russia

BERLIN, Feb 11 (Reuters) – British director Peter
Greenaway’s explicit treatment of Sergei Eisenstein’s
homosexuality, in his new film about the maker of the Soviet-era
masterpieces “Battleship Potemkin” and “October”, may not please
Russia’s modern rulers.

In “Eisenstein in Guanajuato”, which premiered at the Berlin
Film Festival on Wednesday, the Russian — played exuberantly by
Finnish actor Elmer B├Ąck — loses his virginity aged 33 with the
help of his male Mexican guide and a bottle of olive oil.

    • About Stephen

      "I moved to Berlin to run our German political, economic and general news file in 2010 after nearly four years as chief correspondent in Rome covering Berlusconi, the L'Aquila earthquake, G8 summit and Vatican. I was Nordic and Baltic bureau chief for 3-1/2 years and bureau chief of southern Latin America, based in Buenos Aires, for eight years including the Argentine collapse in 2001/2002. My first assignments for Reuters were in Spain, Portugal and our HQ in London. Before Reuters I worked for the Financial Times Group."
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