SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – Russian President Vladimir Putin says that the banking crisis in Cyprus has revealed the unreliability of Western financial institutions.
In an interview on Friday with Germany’s state-owned ARD television before an April 7 visit to the European nation, Putin accused Cypriot and European Union leaders of undermining confidence in Europe’s banks by taxing deposits as part of the island country’s international bailout agreement.
“Forfeiture of investors’ funds -- including of Russian origin -- wherever it happens, in Cyprus or in other places, undermines credibility of the banking system of the entire eurozone,” Bloomberg quoted the Russian president as saying.
Putin pointed out that Russian investors who have deposits in the Mediterranean island’s banks were being found guilty without proof of being money-launderers.
“If we think that this country has been a machine for money laundering, then proof must be given,” he said.
Russian companies and individuals have around 23.8 billion euros (31 billion US dollars) of deposits in Cyprus, according to Moody’s Investors Services and Monument Securities.
The Russian president stated that his country may benefit from the Cypriot banking crisis as it will encourage Russian depositors to invest at home.
“The more you pinch foreign investors in the financial institutions of your countries, the better for us, because the affected, offended and frightened -- not all of them but many -- should, so we hope, come to our financial institutions and keep their money in our banks,” he said.
On March 25, Nicosia inked a 10-billion-euro (13-billion-US dollar) bailout deal, which includes a tax of up to 40 percent on deposits of over 100,000 euros in Cyprus’ two biggest banks, with the International Monetary Fund, the European Commission and the European Central Bank.-www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – In his first meeting with representatives of world religions, Pope Francis called Wednesday, March 20, for friendship and respect among all faiths to defend peace and justice.
"We must do much for the good of the poorest, the weak, and those who are suffering, to favor justice, promote reconciliation and build peace," the pontiff told the meeting cited by Reuters.
Speaking to representatives of Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Anglicism, Orthodox and Methodism, the pontiff said followers of all religions and even non-believers had to recognize their joint responsibility to the world.
"I very much appreciate your presence and I see in it a sign of mutual respect and of cooperation for the common good of humanity," he said.
"We can do a lot for the good of people who are poor, who are weak, who suffer... and to promote reconciliation and peace.
"The Catholic Church is aware of the importance of furthering respect of friendship between men and women of different religious traditions.”
Pope Francis, the first from Latin America, was elected last week to replace Benedict XVI, who resigned for health reasons.
Since his election a week ago, Francis has set the tone for a new, humbler papacy, calling on the Church to defend the weak and protect the environment.
In another sign of his simpler style, Francis addressed the religious leaders while seated in a beige armchair and not the usual elaborate throne used in the ornate hall for audiences.
He told the religious leaders to fight "a one-dimensional vision of a human person, according to which man is reduced to what he produces and what he consumes," which he said was "one of the most dangerous snares of our times".
While he said history had shown that any attempt to eliminate God had produced "much violence," he reached out to those who seek truth, goodness and beauty without belonging to any religion.
"They are our precious allies in the commitment to defend human dignity, build a more peaceful coexistence among people and protect nature with care," he said.
Muslim leaders have praised the pope’s call for inter-religious friendship.
"Friendship is a core way to increase brotherhood between believers and also to increase the deepness of the dignity of humanity," Italian Muslim leader Yahya Pallavicini said after the meeting.
"We can't consider man only as a consumer or as someone who has to be considered only in terms of the market but as a believer and as a person who has the holiness in his heart.
Relations between Muslims and the Vatican strained in 2006 after Pope Benedict quoted a 14th century Byzantine emperor that everything Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessing be upon him) brought was evil and inhuman.
Benedict had repeatedly said the words did not reflect his personal views but stopped short of a clear apology to Muslims.
Relations hit new ebb after the pope said Christians in the Middle East were facing persecution following a church attack in Egypt.
Jewish Rabbi David Rosen, International Director of Inter-religious Affairs for the American Jewish Committee, also hailed the pontiff’s endeavor.
"I feel a great deal of excitement and optimism and hope," he told Reuters.
"He is deeply committed to the Catholic-Jewish relationship.”
Before his address, the pope had a private meeting with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew from Istanbul, who attended Francis's inaugural Mass on Tuesday.
It was the first time the spiritual head of Orthodox Christians had attended a Roman pope's inaugural Mass since the Great Schism between western and eastern Christianity in 1054.
At Wednesday's meeting, Francis called Bartholomew "my brother Andrew," a reference to the apostle who was the brother of St Peter and was the first bishop of the Church of Byzantium.
Francis also held a private session with Metropolitan Hilarion, the foreign minister of the Russian Orthodox Church, the largest in the Orthodox world.-www.shafaqna.com/English
Source: ON Islam
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association)The United Nations today expressed disappointment over Bahrain’s decision to uphold the convictions of 13 pro-democracy activists in spite of concerns raised by an independent human rights panel and appeals by the international community.
“We regret that Bahrain’s highest court on Monday upheld the convictions of 13 activists for their role in pro-democracy demonstrations, after two years of trials and despite the conclusions of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry and the appeals by the international community concerning the judicial procedure and allegations of torture,” a spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Cécile Pouilly, told reporters in Geneva.
“These persons are political and human rights activists and we are concerned they may have been wrongly convicted for legitimate activities. We are also concerned by the extreme harshness of some of the sentences, including imprisonment for life,” she added.
In early 2012, the Gulf country experienced clashes between security forces and demonstrators, a year after widespread civil protests first emerged there. The Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry was established by the King of Bahrain in June 2011 to investigate incidents that occurred during the country’s unrest.
At the news briefing, the OHCHR spokesperson also condemned the arbitrary detention of the Vice President of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, Said Yousif Al-Muhafdhah, who was arrested on 17 December 2012 while monitoring a protest in the capital, Manama.
Mr. Al-Muhafdhah was also sending messages on the online platform Twitter about attacks on protesters and posted a picture of a demonstrator wounded during the protest. According to the UN agency, the case is expected to be reviewed by the public prosecution office on Wednesday.
“We call on the Bahraini authorities to release him immediately,” Ms. Pouilly said.
Source : UN
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – Rebels controlling the Democratic Republic of Congo's easten city of Goma have been told to pull out a day after they captured the city, forcing government troops to surrender.
The warning was made in a joint statement released on Wednesday in the Ugandan capital Kampala after DR Congo President Joseph Kabila met his Rwandan and Ugandan counterparts, Paul Kagame and Yoweri Museveni, to resolve the crisis in Goma.
"M23 must immediately stop [its] offensive and pull out of Goma," the three presidents said in the statement.
"A plan to this end is being communicated to them."
The United Nations accuses Rwanda of backing M23 fighters who now control the key eastern town of Goma and take their name after a peace agreement they signed with the Congolese government on March 23, 2009. Kigali denies the charges and Uganda has also dismissed accusations it has aided the rebels.
Rwanda for its part accuses Kinshasa of renewing co-operation with Rwandan rebels based in eastern DR Congo.
'Causes of disturbances'
"The government of the DRC, on its part, has made a commitment to look expeditiously into the causes of disturbances and address them as best they can," the statement added, read out by Ugandan foreign minister Sam Kutesa.
"President Museveni and President Kagame made it clear that even if there were legitimate grievances by the mutinying group known as M23, they cannot accept the expansion of this war," the statement added.
They also cannot "entertain the idea of overthrowing the legitimate government of the DRC, or undermining its authority."
Earlier on Wednesday, thousands of government soldiers and police in the DR Congo surrendered to rebels at a stadium in Goma, the main city in the eastern North Kivu province.
Al Jazeera's Nazanine Moshiri reported on "extraordinary scenes", as the security officers came to hand in their arms.
"[The surrendered officers] didn't have a choice," she said.
The soldiers were told they had a choice either to have peace in the city, or to leave the city, she said.
M23 seized Goma on Tuesday, in a development that raised fears of a new, regional conflict. The capture of the city came after days of fighting with government troops.
The rebels were also reported to have taken control of the town of Sake, on the road to Bukavu.
"The [rebels] arrived an hour ago. Luckily there was no force used. Now they're pretty much everywhere ... The army had already left," Christian Bigebika, executive secretary of an association of local rights groups, told the Reuters news agency by telephone from the town, between Goma and Bukavu.
Rebel forces in eastern DR Congo said on Wednesday they planned to take control of the whole of the vast central African country after they captured Goma - home to more than 1 million people - as well as an international airport.
The city was captured while United Nations peacekeepers looked on.
The peacekeepers were not helping the government forces during Tuesday's battle because they do not have a mandate to engage the rebels, said Congolese military spokesperson Olivier Hamuli.
Our correspondent said people appeared to be frustrated with what they see as the UN's lack of action in protecting them from rebel groups.
According to a UN official, protesters were throwing stones and burning tires at the premises MONUSCO, as the peacekeeping force is known, in at least three cities on Wednesday.
Peacekeepers were on alert and UN staff were re-grouping at secure locations as a precautionary measure, the spokesman said.
A spokesperson for the M23 rebels said they planned to "liberate" the country, by moving to the town of Bukavu and then marching on the capital, Kinshasa, nearly 1,600km away.
The rebels have previously said they are seeking talks with Kabila over the failed implementation of a peace deal that ended a previous rebellion in 2009.
"The journey to liberate Congo has started now ... We're going to move on to Bukavu and then to Kinshasa. Are you ready to join us?" Vianney Kazarama, spokesperson for M23, told the crowd of more than 1,000 in a stadium in Goma.
Thousands of residents have fled across the border to Rwanda, the much-smaller nation to the east which is accused of funnelling arms and recruits to the M23 rebels.
Senior commanders of the group, who the UN have accused of grave crimes including recruiting child soldiers, summary executions and rape, paraded around Goma on Tuesday, waving to the thousands of people who left their barricaded houses to see them.
A UN spokesperson in New York said that the nearly 1,500 UN peacekeepers in Goma held their fire to avoid triggering a battle.
The peacekeepers "cannot substitute for the efforts of national forces" in Congo, Eduardo del Buey, the spokesperson, said.
On Wednesday, the Security Council will review the mandate of the UN peacekeeping force in DR Congo. A resolution adopted on Tuesday by the Security Council asked the UN secretary-general to recommend possible redeployment, and possible "additional force multipliers".
The resolution approved unanimously by the council imposes targeted sanctions, including a travel ban and assets freeze on the M23 rebel group leadership. But it did not name two countries accused by DR Congo of supporting the rebels: Rwanda and Uganda.– www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – The Chinese Communist Party has kicked off its 18th congress to prepare the ground for the replacement of the current top tier of leaders with a new generation led by Vice President Xi Jinping, Press TV reports.
The week-long congress, which opened in the capital Beijing on Thursday, will select the country’s new leaders for the next ten years.
Xi is expected to be elected the next leader of the emerging power for the next decade. There's no doubt that Xi’s generation of leaders would support stronger rule of law, less state control of the economy, greater public participation in policy making and more transparent governance.
Problems such as inequality and corruption have been neglected during the ten-year presidency of Hu Jintao.
Yet it is not certain that the next generation of leaders would look towards Western liberal democracies to enact economic and political reforms.
Additionally, independent law courts and more private business would mean a loss of control by the Communist Party, whose first duty has always been to keep itself in power.
The party believes that its right to rule comes from delivering strong growth and many think the current setup can continue to do so for ten or more years.
“Of course the Communist Party wants to preserve its power, some say reform will help it to do this, others say that is too great and things can’t go on without reforms,” Shang Ming from Renmin University told Press TV.
The party will use Thursday’s highly-orchestrated event, attended by the 2,270 delegates of the congress, to persuade the nation's 1.3 billion people that it can secure another 10 years of economic growth and social stability.— www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — European Union leaders have announced they had agreed to create a single supervisor for banks in countries that use the euro, and said it would "probably"' become operational sometime next year.
The deal, reached at a summit of EU leaders in Brussels on Friday, represents a shaky compromise between the Germans and French, who had been tussling over how to shore up the eurozone's banking system.
France has been pushing to get all 6,000 banks in the 17 countries under the supervision of one European body by the end of this year. Leaders agreed in June that, once a supervisor is in place, struggling financial institutions would be able to tap Europe's emergency bailout fund, the European Stability Mechanism, directly.
At the moment, money to help put banks has to go through a country's government - placing more strain on state finances.
In Ireland's case, the government's attempts to rescue failing banks forced it into a bailout. Some fear Spain could face that fate, too.
But Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel, wary of using taxpayers' money to prop up other countries' banks, tried to put the brakes on the plan, insisting that creating the supervisor should be done slowly and that "quality must come before speed".
'Worst is over'
The compromise included something for both - all 6,000 banks will be included, as France had wanted. But there is no firm deadline for the single supervisor to be up and running - other than to say that the "objective'" is to finish the legal framework by January 1, and that work on its operational implementation "will take place during the course of 2013".
Herman Van Rompuy, European Council president, said the single supervisor would "probably" be up and running next year.
"It is not because you vote on a law that you have the whole logistic framework in place the day after," Van Rompuy said.
Despite the lack of a deadline, Francois Hollande, French President hailed the agreement. "The worst is over,'' he said, referring to the crisis that has shaking the European Union to its roots.
However, there are still more issues under debate at the summit, which runs until Friday.
Merkel is pushing a proposal for the European Union's monetary affairs commissioner to become an enforcer of the bloc's budget rules - including the power to refuse member countries' proposed spending and tax plans and send them back for changes.
Germany hopes that having a "budget czar" - a move that's been bandied about for months - will help keep Europe from repeating past mistakes by stopping governments from overspending and needing expensive bailouts.
But some countries, like France, are wary of handing control over their finances to unelected officials in a foreign capital.
On arrival Thursday, Hollande - increasingly the counterpoint to Germany's weight in the EU - brushed off the suggestion as simply not on the table at this summit.
Al Jazeera's Nick Spicer, reporting from Brussels, said ahead of the talks: "The body language of Merkel and [French President Francois] Hollande did not bode well... Merkel does not want to do anything in her election year in 2013."
With unemployment in the region at a record 10.5 percent, and growth grinding to a halt around the continent, the back-and-forth is beginning to frustrate some European officials. Jose Manuel Barroso, who is president of the EU's executive arm, the European Commission, criticised the heel-dragging ahead of the meeting.
With no relief in sight for Spain, the question of whether it will ask for a bailout itself still looms.
The government in Madrid said this week that it would decide in the coming weeks although it is still hoping it can avoid asking for any kind of aid.
"It would be helpful ... if Spain asked for ESM (European Stability Mechanism) aid,'' said Van Rompuy.
"But it is up to Spain to make up its mind."
Leaders also praised the progress it said Greece had made toward reforming its economy and balancing its budget, though, without a new report by international lenders, no decision could be taken on badly needed continued aid for country.
On Thursday, rioters in Greece pelted police with Molotov cocktails and chunks of marble in protest against the stringent budget cuts the country has had to implement in order to secure its rescue loans.
Greece's bailout creditors - the EU, the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank - have been engaged in tough negotiations in recent weeks over more budget cuts.— www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — Algeria demanded new efforts Saturday to limit freedom of expression to prevent denigrating attacks on Islam, appealing to the United Nations to take a lead as nations engaged in new debate on the tensions between free speech and religious tolerance.
In an address to the General Assembly, Algeria's foreign minister Mourad Medelci called for global action under the auspices of the United Nations to respond to violent demonstrations provoked by a U.S.-produced video that mocks Muslims and the Prophet Muhammad.
While Medelci didn't offer precise details of how he believed the U.N. could intervene, his call follows similar demands at the General Assembly from scores of leaders in the Muslim world who want new laws to ban insults against Islam.
On the sidelines of the annual forum, Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, secretary general of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, told The Associated Press Saturday in an interview that the deaths of two dozen people in violent protests against the anti-Islam film underscored the need for new legislation.
Malaysia's foreign minister Anifah Aman told the General Assembly that the creators of the anti-Islam film — an amateurish, privately produced U.S. video that mocked Muhammad's image — and those behind the publication of lewd caricatures of the prophet by French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo had shown "blatant malicious intent" toward Muslims.
"When we discriminate against gender, it is called sexism. When African Americans are criticized and vilified, it is called racism. When the same is done to the Jews, people call it Anti-Semitism. But why is it when Muslims are stigmatized and defamed, it is defended as 'freedom of expression'?" Aman told the General Assembly.
Aman he believed it was "time to dwell deeper into the heart of the problem and the real debate — the relationship between freedom of expression and social responsibilities, duties and obligations."
Pakistan's President Asif Ali Zardari had called in his speech Tuesday to the General Assembly for action led by the U.N. to address a "widening rift" between the Muslim world and the West.
Italy and Jordan said Thursday at a meeting on the sidelines of the forum that they were already working on an initiative to promote religious tolerance, which had begun before the anti-Islam video went public. The drive to push better understanding will involve a conference of experts and academics in the coming months.
Egypt's President Mohammed Morsi also called for limits on free speech, to help protect "the world from instability and hatred."
Morsi said Wednesday his country would respect freedom of expression, but only when it "is not used to incite hatred against anyone, one that is not directed towards one specific religion or culture."
Yemen's President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi told the General Assembly on Wednesday "there should be limits for the freedom of expression, especially if such freedom blasphemes the beliefs of nations and defames their figures."
Zardari warned that the "international community must not become silent observers." In a speech Tuesday he called for the criminalization of "acts that destroy the peace of the world and endanger world security by misusing freedom of expression."
Indonesia's President Susilo Bambang Yudnoyne — head of the world's most populous Muslim-majority nation — told the General Assembly on Tuesday that previous initiatives at the U.N. had failed to halt intolerance. The "defamation of religion persists, we have seen yet another one of its ugly faces in the film 'Innocence of Muslims'," he said.
In his speech Tuesday to the General Assembly, President Barack Obama described the anti-Islam film as "crude and disgusting," but mounted a defense of freedom of expression.— www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — Muslim leaders demanded international action to stop religious insults in a challenge to U.S. President Barack Obama’s defense of freedom of expression at the U.N. General Assembly.
Obama made a strong condemnation of “violence and intolerance” in his speech at the U.N. headquarters on Tuesday. He said world leaders had a duty to speak out against the deadly attacks on Americans in the past two weeks caused by an anti-Islam film made in the United States.
But Muslim kings and presidents and other heads of state said Western nations must clamp down on “Islamophobia” following the storm over the film which mocks the Prophet Mohammed, AFP reported.
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono of Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim nation, said the film was another “ugly face” of religious defamation.
Yudhoyono quoted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as saying that “everyone must observe morality and public order” and commented: “Freedom of expression is therefore not absolute.”
He called for “an international instrument to effectively prevent incitement to hostility or violence based on religions or beliefs.”
King Abdullah II of Jordan, a close U.S. ally, spoke out against the film and the violence it sparked.
Pakistan's President Asif Ali Zardari condemned what he called the “incitement of hate” against Muslims and demanded United Nations action.
“Although we can never condone violence, the international community must not become silent observers and should criminalize such acts that destroy the peace of the world and endanger world security by misusing freedom of expression,” he told the assembly.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai took aim both at the anti-Islam video and publication of cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammad -- the latter occurring most recently in France.
Karzai called the insults to the faith of 1.5 billion Muslims, the “depravity of fanatics,” and added: “Such acts can never be justified as freedom of speech or expression,” according to Reuters.
“The menace of Islamophobia is a worrying phenomenon that threatens peace and co-existence,” he added in his address to the General Assembly.
Obama said he could not ban the video, reportedly made by Egyptian Copts, because of the U.S. Constitution which protects the right to free speech.
“As president of our country, and commander-in-chief of our military, I accept that people are going to call me awful things every day, and I will always defend their right to do so,” Obama told leaders at the U.N. summit.
“The attacks of the last two weeks are not simply an assault on America. They are also an assault on the very ideals upon which the United Nations was founded -- the notion that people can resolve their differences peacefully,” he added.
Obama has sought a new start in relations with the Muslim world during his first term, but the legacy of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan where U.S. troops will remain for more than a year have been hard to shake off.
Stewart Patrick, a specialist on international institutions for the Council on Foreign Relations think-tank, said the film furor had “exposed a huge fault line regarding the balance between free speech, which obviously is healthier in the United States, and the defamation of religion, which is really a red line for many people.”
But beyond the question of freedom of speech, some Muslim leaders also say the United States has still not gone far enough to balance its relations with Muslim nations.
Egypt’s President Mohamed Mursi said despite anti-U.S. demonstrations in Cairo that U.S. support for his country and others that have seen Arab Spring revolutions could be a chance for a mutual show of respect.
Over the past four decades, “Egyptian people see the blood of the Palestinians being shed. And they see that the U.S. administrations were biased against the interests of the Palestinians. So a sort of hate and sort of a worry rise out of that in Egypt and in the area,” Mursi said in an interview with Charlie Rose on PBS television this week.
“The demonstrations were an expression of a high level of anger and a rejection of what is happening,” added Mursi. “And the U.S. embassy represents the symbol of America as a people and government."
Obama’s efforts, said the Egyptian leader, were “the opportunity to take these worries, or this hate, out of the way and to build a new relationship based on respect, communication.”
Earlier on Tuesday in Geneva, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation -- the world’s largest Islamic body, representing 56 countries -- called for expressions of “Islamophobia” to be curbed by law in the same way as some countries restrict anti-Semitic speech or Holocaust denial.—www.shafaqna.com/English
Source: Al Arabiya
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday condemned the attack that killed the U.S. ambassador to Libya and called on new leaders in Arab nations on Thursday to recognize their responsibility for the situation on their territories.
“I would like to address the leadership of the new governments in which serious changes have taken place, they should also not forget about their own responsibility for what happens on their territory,” Putin said in televised comments in the southern city of Sochi.
“We are afraid that the region may descend into chaos, which is essentially what is happening already,” he added.
Unlike the United States, Russia was against foreign interventions to topple dictatorial regimes such as the case of Libya’s slain strongman Muammar Qaddafi.
Russia and China have voted against U.N. Security Council’s resolution for foreign intervention against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime and after more than 27,000 people have been killed since the start of the conflict in March last year, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The United Nations puts the death toll at 20,000.
Protests against an anti-Islam film in the United States have caused large protests in Libya, Egypt, Yemen, Iraq and Tunisia.
In Libya, protests against the film were the bloodiest. The U.S. ambassador to Libya in the eastern province of Benghazi and three other staff were killed when a mob of Libyan protesters stormed the U.S. compound.
A “big advance” has been made in the probe into the deadly attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya’s second city Benghazi, Prime Minister Mustafa Abu Shagur told AFP in an exclusive interview on Thursday.
“We have made a big advance,” the newly elected premier said.
“We have some names and some photographs. Arrests have been made and more are under way as we speak.”
In the United States, meanwhile, U.S. Senator John McCain led a Republican assault on Barack Obama’s handling of rising Middle East tensions Thursday, claiming American “weakness” was inviting aggression in a volatile region.
Republican challenger Mitt Romney, who hopes to oust Obama from the White House in November’s election, took a risk when he criticized the president in the immediate aftermath of a deadly attack on a U.S. mission in Libya.
Some of Romney’s allies were initially reluctant to back their candidate up, fearing that it would be seen as distasteful to seek to make political capital out of the death of a U.S. ambassador and three of his colleagues.—www.shafaqna.com/English
Source: Al Arabiya
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — European leaders have broadly welcomed a new plan from the European Central Bank (ECB) to help eurozone members hit by crippling borrowing costs, but it drew criticism from Germany's Bundesbank.
At one of the most highly anticipated meetings in its history, the ECB's governing council on Thursday agreed to allow unlimited bond-buying in a bid to lower debt for struggling eurozone countries.
Mario Draghi, the ECB chief, said the move, aimed at the secondary market, would address bond market distortions and "unfounded" fears of investors concerning the survival of the currency.
Addressing a news conference, Draghi said: "Under appropriate conditions, we will have a fully effective backstop to prevent potentially destructive scenarios."
Stocks have risen strongly, as has the euro and the price of oil, while the costs of borrowing for countries like Spain and Italy has become more manageable.
British Prime Minister David Cameron and French President Francois Hollande, who had been holding talks in London, both welcomed news of the scheme, dubbed "Outright Monetary Transactions" or OMTs.
"I warmly welcome that those steps were taken. It's clearly important for the countries in the eurozone but also important for countries like Britain."
France's Hollande said the ECB had "acted in line with the mandate it has been given" to "safeguard growth in Europe".
Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti, whose country has been punished by investors worried it is at risk from debt crisis contagion, called the plan an "important step forward" for the eurozone.
The International Monetary Fund also greeted the plan warmly, saying it would lend its support within its own rules.
"We see the ECB's action as an important step toward strengthening stability and growth in the euro area," Christine Lagarde, the IMF managing director, said.
But Germany's central bank - whose chief has been outspoken in his opposition to bond-buying measures - criticised the plan.
"In the most recent discussions, as before, Bundesbank President Jens Weidmann reiterated his frequently substantiated critical stance towards the purchase of government bonds by the eurosystem," the central bank said.
If the scheme led to member states postponing necessary reforms, "this will further undermine confidence in the political leaders' crisis-resolution capability”, the bank added.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel had a tight-lipped reaction, declining to comment except to say the ECB was acting within its mandate.
"The ECB acts within its independence and within its mandate and is responsible for the stability of the currency, the value of the currency, and to take the appropriate decisions," she said.
Jose Manuel Barroso, the European Commission head, also said he believed the ECB was "acting fully within its mandate to maintain the integrity of the monetary policy".
Markets responded favourably to Draghi's plans, with eurozone banks soared 5.9 per cent to five month highs, helping the eurozone's top Euro STOXX 50 index climb 3.4 per cent.
In Europe, Germany's DAX was up 0.8 per cent on Friday, while the CAC-40 in France rose 1.1 per cent. The FTSE 100 index of leading British shares was 0.2 per cent higher.
Wall Street was poised for a solid opening too, with both Dow futures and the broader S&P 500 futures up 0.4 per cent.
The euro rose 0.5 per cent to $1.2688.
In Asia, Japan's Nikkei 225 index surged 2.2 per cent. Hong Kong's Hang Seng jumped 3.1 per cent, South Korea's Kospi bolted up 2.6 per cent, Australia's S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.3 per cent, while the benchmark Shanghai Composite Index jumped 3.7 per cent.—www.shafaqna.com/English