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Increasing talks in Austria about Greece’s default

18 January 2012 / 14:01:05  GRReporter
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Austrian banks and financial institutions have invested in Greek government bonds and are tied to Italy; the economic situation in neighbouring Hungary is severe, states Elitsa Karaeneva, editor of A4 - the magazine of the Bulgarians in Austria, in an interview with GRReporter.

What is the response of Austrian financial institutions to the 50% haircut on Greek debt?
    The issue of cutting the face value of Greek bonds is discussed in the financial press. Unfortunately, the negotiations for the 50% cut on Greek debt stalled last week and this has further exacerbated the already tense situation with the crisis in Greece. Austrian banks and other financial institutions have invested in the country and now, they are trying to protect the investments as far as possible. The expert comments make it clear that the most difficult are the negotiations with private investors, as their interests are diverging. It seems that there are more open talks about the default of Greece, although no one is interested in this.
How do Austrians respond to the crisis in the Eurozone?
    Recent polls show that Austrians have confidence in the European Union (74%) but there are growing doubts about the future of the single European currency. On 13 January, the U.S. agency Standard & Poor's quite unexpectedly downgraded Austria to AA +. The difficult economic situation in neighbouring Hungary and the financial exposure to Italy are factors that inevitably affect the financial stability of the Alpine country. Events have developed very quickly in recent months and are often difficult to predict. Austria has always been among the best performers in the European Union, but now things are not so optimistic. Although during the big Christmas shopping period retailers recorded a 4% increase in profits compared to last year, consumption in general is dropping. All this has its implications on the mood of ordinary people in the streets. Uncertainty in the future frightens them.
Let us turn to the Bulgarian community. How does it look in the eyes of the editor of the only Bulgarian magazine in Austria?
    It looks like a small Bulgaria. If we look at the Bulgarian society here, we will see that it is a projection of the society in Bulgaria – there are poor people, who are ready to do any job to survive; there are many students; there are people with stable incomes who have been living here for years – some of them have Austrian citizenship, and there are extremely rich people. In recent years, especially after Bulgaria’s accession to the European Union, our diaspora here has changed. There is already a new group, consisting mainly of people having a successful business in Bulgaria, who come with their families to live in Austria, because of the higher standard of living, cleanliness and security. There are successful professionals who have worked for Western companies in Bulgaria and after being promoted, they come to the headquarters in Vienna. I will not comment on the topic of prostitutes and pickpockets, which unfortunately the Austrian media covers most often. I would rather emphasize that Bulgarian singers, actors, artists, musicians, names known not only in Europe but also worldwide work and express themselves in Austria.
From the beginning of this year, the Bulgarian magazine has a new name and design. How did you come to this change?
    The magazine celebrated its 5th anniversary at the end of last year. We had to think inevitably about changes both in its overall layout and in terms of content. We were looking for a new name that is short, memorable and has the same meaning in Bulgarian and German. A4 is the highway, which we most often use to get to Austria when travelling by car. The road is a symbol of dynamics, development, communication; it connects people. Therefore, we decided that A4 is an appropriate name for a modern magazine that aims to serve as a cultural bridge between two European countries. This is why our publication is bilingual.
Is there a change in the topics you offer your readers?
    We are not talking about a new magazine but about changes in the already existing Bulgarians in Austria. In March last year, we conducted a poll among our readers and it gave us many new ideas and directions for future development. We introduced more short news, more information on current events from the social, political and cultural life in Austria and Bulgaria. We strive to be useful to people and help them in their integration into the local society. And that means that they need to know not only the Bulgarian nature, history and traditions, but Austrian too. I know many people who have been living here for 20 years now and they know nothing about the history of this country and have not been out of Vienna. Therefore, we are trying to find a balance between the materials for Bulgaria and Austria in the magazine, presenting at the same time topics that are relevant for both countries – we are trying to look for parallels and different points of view. We want to be a modern media and to give Bulgarians the confidence that they are Europeans, not relying on cheap patriotism.
Is it difficult to make a print media nowadays?
    It is very difficult. Since we are a bilingual magazine, in addition to the editor and proofreader, a translator works with the materials too. Then follow the graphic design, printing, distribution. I am happy that I can rely on a wonderful team of enthusiastic young people who are not afraid of challenges and are ready to experiment with new things.

Tags: A4Bulgarians in AustriaElitsa KaraenevaAustrian banksPrint mediaGreek bonds
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