Greece and the economic crisis

Aug 27, 2016

Tsipras: EU sleepwalking toward cliff, wants debt relief by end 2016 - Reuters

"Greece has kept its part of the agreement and expects the same from its partners. We are not simply seeking, we are demanding and expecting specific measures that will render debt sustainable as part of the deal we are implementing," Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras told the Sunday newspaper Realnews.

"This (debt relief) will be followed by reduced (budget) surpluses after 2018, which will open the way for the economy's recovery," he said.

Greece has committed to attaining a primary budget surplus - excluding debt servicing costs - of 3.5 percent of economic output by 2018 as part of its third bailout package since 2010.


Greece facing ‘serious challenges,’ needs EU help to manage refugee crisis – UN agency chief - UN News

"On Wednesday, Mr. Grandi met with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and President Prokopis Pavlopoulos, and then visited a shelter for unaccompanied children run by Praksis, a Greek NGO supported by UNHCR.

Unaccompanied children in Greece are a high-priority concern for UNHCR. Some 1,472 are on a waiting list for a safe shelter. UNHCR has so far provided 345 temporary shelter spaces for children alone. Another 245 spaces are planned.

High Commissioner Grandi called the Praksis centre a model for care of unaccompanied children. It is home to 21 boys aged seven to 17 from Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan and elsewhere. They receive round-the-clock care, and some attend a neighbourhood school. All arrived in Europe without their parents or relatives, and several spent time locked in detention centres in Greece or living in the streets before coming to the shelter."


Aug 26, 2016

Greece Charges Seven Turkish Asylum Seekers With Illegal Entry - WSJ

"Greece faces a delicate balancing act as it confronts the spillover of Turkey’s mid-July failed coup...

Turkey’s government has requested the rapid extradition of the men it has described as “traitors” to face charges of trying to overthrow the democratic constitution.

The eight officers, who hold ranks up to that of major, say they fear for their lives if they are returned to Turkey.

Greek officials say they have to let their politically-independent judicial system weigh the claims. But the government is worried the case will worsen its already prickly relations with its bigger neighbor. The countries, both North Atlantic Treaty Organization members, have longstanding tensions over territorial disputes. "


Opposition parties complain about television license tender - tovima.gr

"...the coalition government’s tender for the television broadcasting has provoked the ire of the opposition parties. Earlier, the leader of the Independent Greeks and Minister of National Defense Panos Kammenos claimed one of candidates in the tender – Yannis Kalogritsas – is using ‘black money’ to pressure the government for a license. SYRIZA MP Giorgos Dimaras also warned that ‘mafias’ may end up a television license.

Main opposition party New Democracy issued a statement underlining that it does not recognize or legitimize the tender for the television licenses and claims that the Tsipras-Kammenos government is attempting to manipulate the media."


Aug 25, 2016

EU tells Greece to defend its economic statistics as questions circle the data's validity - Business Insider

"First, we expect the Greek authorities to actively and publicly challenge the false impression that data were manipulated during 2010-2015 and to protect ELSTAT and its staff from such unfounded claims," [Marianne Thyssen, the EU commissioner for employment] said.

"Second, we call upon the Greek authorities to support and preserve the quality of Greek statistics, as well as the independence of the Hellenic Statistical System, along the lines defined in Greek statistical legislation and in the Commitment on Confidence in Statistics of 2012," added Thyssen."


Greece ignores Commission on statistics dispute - Politico

"Andreas Georgiou, the former chief of ELSTAT, is in the crosshairs for allegedly undermining Greece’s “national interest” during the country’s bailout talks with international creditors by inflating its budget deficit numbers. Earlier this month, the Greek Supreme Court said Georgiou should stand trial, facing charges that could put him in jail for up to 10 years.

...The Greek debt crisis began in 2009, when the incoming government of then-Prime Minister George Papandreou found that the country’s budget deficit was over 12 percent of economic output — twice as much as the figure put forward by the former government. When he took over the helm of ELSTAT a year later, Georgiou again revised the budget deficit to 15 percent, a figure backed by Eurostat."


GMR eyes Greece, likely to bid for Heraklion Airport - Hindustantimes

"Sources said the Delhi-headquartered infrastructure major had sought and received an “experience certificate” from the aviation ministry to participate for the “international competitive bidding process” to develop Greece’s second busiest airport situated in Crete."


Aug 24, 2016

EU warns Greece statistics row 'dangerous' for bailout - Reuters

"The European Union called on Greece on Wednesday to quash what Brussels said were false accusations the Greek statistics agency rigged data to help foreign creditors and warned that the row posed risks to Athens' current bailout programme.

...[former Elstat chief Andreas] Georgiou was charged in 2013 with inflating figures on the 2009 budget deficit. His case has seen fellow senior economists and statisticians from around the world rally behind him. Some are helping to pay for his defense costs.

The case had appeared to be languishing but a move at the Supreme Court earlier this month to reopen it has put Georgiou under renewed pressure and, in Brussels' view, raised questions about the independence of Elstat from external pressures."


Greece Defies Expectations In Rio, Bringing Home Gold - HuffPost

"Despite predictions it wouldn’t do well, the struggling nation won six medals.

...In late July, banking firm Goldman Sachs issued a report in which it predicted the number of medals each country would win. The report, based on data such as each country’s growth, income per capita, population size and how it has fared in past Games, proved fairly accurate in some cases (U.S., Great Britain) but way off the mark in others, such as Greece. Despite falling in the “zero medals” category in the report, Greece returned home with six medals, three of them gold, and ranked 26th in the list of medal-winning countries."


Desperate Greece pleads with EU to SPEED UP the promised relocation of migrants - UK Express

"A European Commission deal was agreed last year - which the UK opted out of - to ease pressure on Greece and Italy by resettling 160,000 Syrian, Eritrean and Iraqi migrants arriving on their shores in other European countries over two years.

So far just under 4,000 people have been relocated under the scheme which an Italian minister yesterday branded a “flop”."


Greek Embassy in Rome says no Greek casualties in quake, calls for blood donations - eKathimerini

“There are so far no Greek victims among the casualties or injured in the earthquake,” the embassy said in its announcement and went on to urge any Greeks living or vacationing in the area to respond to an appeal by Italian authorities for blood donations.

The 6.2-Richter quake struck in the early hours of the morning when most people were asleep, razing homes and buckling roads in a cluster of towns and villages some 140 km (85 miles) east of Rome, Reuters reported on Wednesday."


Aug 23, 2016

Greece says at least 41,000 asylum seekers on its territory - France 24

"Yiannis Mouzalas told a news conference that Greek and UN services had recorded 54,000 refugees and migrants on Greek territory between June and the end of July.

Over 41,000 of them on the mainland have expressed interest in asylum, or have made formal requests.

Another 2,000 have agreed to be returned home."


Troika prompts ministry to tighten debt repayments - eKathimerini

"The government’s plans for allowing taxpayers to make debt repayments to the state in 100 installments has been halted by the country’s lenders, who are refusing to consent to the scheme on the grounds that it will inflate debts to the state coffers.

Alternate Finance Minister Tryfon Alexiadis told Skai there will be no new regulation for the reypayments, and called on debtors either to service their debts or make use of the existing framework of 12 or 24 installments."


From the destruction of Greece to democracy in Europe - Boston Globe

"Last year’s third bailout of Greece, imposed by Europe and the International Monetrary Fund, does to Greece what Versailles did to Germany: It strips assets to satisfy debts. Germany lost its merchant marine, its rolling stock, its colonies, and its coal; Greece has lost its seaports, its airports — the profitable ones — and is set to sell off its beaches, the public asset that is a uniquely Greek glory. Private businesses are being forced into bankruptcy to make way for European chains; private citizens are being forced into foreclosure on their homes. It’s a land grab.

..Greece was given collective punishment as a lesson. It was done to show that “there is no alternative.” It was done to stop any other attempt to develop, articulate, and defend a more rational policy. It was done to protect the power of the European Central Bank, the German government in Europe, and the policy-making authority, in face of a long record of failure, of the IMF."


Mouzala: If you break the agreement with Turkey, 180,000 refugees will swamp Europe - iefimerida

"The Deputy Minister of Immigration Policy at a press conference in the presence of the head of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in Greece Philippe Le Klerk and the European Support Office on Asylum (EASO), warned that they will be in the country over 180,000 refugees if the agreement between the two sides is canceled.

...Mr. Mouzala said that the government's plan to build new camps for refugees and immigrants throughout the country will be completed by Christmas."


Aug 22, 2016

'Nobody believes in anything anymore': Why Greece's economic crisis is not over - Yahoo

"...A survey by independent analysis firm DiaNEOsis in June revealed that many Greeks were facing an increasing struggle to get by. Extreme poverty in the Greek population (of 11 million people) had risen from 2.2 percent in 2009, to 15 percent in 2015, the public opinion survey of 1,300 people showed, with 1.6 million people now living below in extreme poverty."


The Occupation Loan Imposed on Greece by Germany During the Second World War - Pappas Post

"...In addition to the massacres, Germany perpetrated another atrocity, which was the occupation loan. By 1942, the Axis powers had invaded and occupied Greece. Germany forced Greece to “lend” money to Germany, purportedly to pay for the costs of occupying Greece. The amount of the loan was about 500 million reichsmarks, which, reportedly, was equal to one-third of Germany’s gross national product in 1938. The purpose of this article is to present a different legal perspective on how the occupation loan should be characterized.

Under the London Debt Agreement of 1953, the Allies suspended Germany’s wartime obligations until East and West Germany were reunited. Germany asserts that it paid reparations to Greece in 1963. It was not until 1990 that East and West Germany reunited under a treaty to which Greece was not a signatory. Germany makes the dubious legal argument that because Greece did not claim any wartime damages when Germany reunited, all claims of Greece for compensation, including the occupation loan, were extinguished."


Best year for tourist arrivals in the history of Rhodes, data shows - Protothema

"The island of Rhodes has experienced a 6% rise in tourist arrivals for the month of August compared to the same month in 2015, according to official data. Hotels and rented rooms have reached full capacity over the same period, revealing the degree of success so far in the island’s main economic industry of tourism."


Tsipras could call snap polls in fall if SYRIZA falls far behind ND - eKathimerini

"If SYRIZA’s drop behind ND remains at levels considered to be manageable – a difference of no more than 20 percentage points – Tsipras is expected to try and win time, aiming to bolster the economy and boost SYRIZA, which is to hold a party congress in October.

If, however, SYRIZA’s popularity starts to plummet, as happened to PASOK in early 2012, then the premier is expected to call snap polls to ensure that SYRIZA remains a key political player, albeit possibly in the opposition again. The latest opinion polls put the two main political parties between 8 and 10 percentage points apart."


Aug 21, 2016

Greece bans blood donations in 12 districts over malaria - BBC

"The Hellenic Center for Disease Control and Prevention (KEELPNO) and the National Centre for Blood Donation both issued warnings, according to Greek news sites Kathimerini and Iefimerida (in Greek).

The 12 districts affected are Farkadona, Trikala, Palamas, Tempe, Achaean and Thebes (central Greece); Evrotas and Andravida-Kyllini (Peloponnesus); Chalcis (Euboea); Marathon (Attica); and Lagada and Pylaia (Thessaloniki region)."

More Coverage:

12 municipalities in quarantine due to malaria - iefimerida


The Athletes Behind Greece’s 120 Years of Olympic Medals - Greek Reporter

"The country’s most successful game was the premiere Olympics in Athens of 1896 when Greek athletes won a total of 50 medals.

Greeks all around the world have rejoiced in hearing their national anthem played some 34 times during the modern Olympic Games as Greek athletes won gold medals.

Additionally, the athletes of Greece have brought home 43 silver medals and 46 bronze."

The site page has a complete list of Greek Olympic medal winners.


Biggest loser at the Rio Olympics? - Newsweek

"...Brazilians should look no further than Greece for a cautionary tale, where the massive costs of hosting in 2004 hastened its financial collapse years later. The birthplace of the Olympics was driven into financial ruin partly because of the Summer Games’ costs."


Aug 19, 2016


Turkish military defector makes case for asylum in Greece - Reuters

"Turkey has formally sought their extradition, calling them 'traitors' and 'terrorist elements'. The men - three majors, three captains and two sergeant majors - deny any involvement in the coup and fear for their lives if returned to Turkey, according to their lawyers.

"We are ready to do everything humanly possible and legally feasible, with utmost diligence, to avert the extradition of these eight innocent people to Turkey. And be sure of this, we will make it," their lawyer Stavroula Tomara said.

The case has underscored lingering tensions between NATO allies Greece and Turkey, tho neighboring countries which came to the brink of war twenty years ago over an uninhabited islet in the Aegean Sea.

It has also piled pressure on the left-led government of EU member Greece, which is struggling to emerge from a debt crisis and manage Europe's worst refugee crisis in decades."

Move coverage:

Asylum hearing kicks off in Greece for first Turkish 'coup' soldier - dw.com


Greece’s exports down by 8% in the first half of 2016 - Tornos

"Greece’s exports fell by 8% in the first half of 2016 – the third largest drop in the 28-member European Union, according to data published by Eurostat."

More Coverage:

BoG: Current account surplus rises to 1 bln euros in June - AMNA


European divisions ‘hardening’, warns German think tank - euractiv

"...The crisis-stricken countries of southern Europe fare the worst, with Greece featured last in the 41-nation ranking. Although the financial and economic crisis has passed its peak, social dislocation caused by years of austerity policies is still having a major impact, the study says.

“Long-term unemployment and child poverty are well into the double-digit percentage range in Southern European countries,” and the situation does not seem to get any better. In Spain, child poverty has risen yet again, to an alarming 23%, the study warns, compared to only 3.6% in Finland. One in five children in Greece is now affected by poverty."


Top 10 greatest movies ever made in Greece - Neo Kosmos

A rundown of the top ten Greece-location films, along with a few honorable mentions. Leading the list are these five:

    1. A Touch of Spice (2003)
    2. Never on Sunday (1960)
    3. The 300 Spartans (1962)
    4. Little England (2013)
    5. Mamma Mia! (2008)

Aug 18, 2016

Syrian refugees in discarded holiday homes dream of anything but Greece - Reuters

"...half of his family are now in Germany while the other half are in Greece, victims of the vicious war devastating his country and a Europe still deeply divided on how to handle the biggest humanitarian challenge in generations.

"My son, brother, sister and father are in Germany. Why am I here?" he asks.

After squatting in a tent for weeks near Athens, Berajikli, his wife and his other son were moved along with about 340 other Syrian refugees to an abandoned holiday resort in the western Peloponnese."


Greece Approves New Renewable Energy Law - Renewabe Energy

"Greece’s parliament has approved a new law governing the renewable energies sector. The new law, which allows for feed-in premiums, competitive tenders and virtual net metering, comprises a significant rearrangement of the country’s energy sector.

According to the new policy, all types of new renewable energy plants connected to the grid after Jan. 1, 2016, need to participate in the energy market. Their compensation will consist of what they make in the power market plus a variable feed-in premium. The latter is the difference between a price depending on market variables (e.g., the system’s marginal price) and a set price decided via a competitive tender."


Greece seeks to reassure about poor revenue collection in July - Capital GR

"In response to claims by the main opposition that there is high risk the budget may get derailed following the cEUR315m revenue miss in July, govt sources sought to give a reassuring message about budget execution."


Jet-Set Bohemian: Greece Beyond the Beaches - Pastemagazine

"One half of island hopping in Greece is basking on the beaches and seeking out hidden rocky coves, but the other is cruising through these isles sampling what they’ve done best for thousands of years. Map out your route by ferry or hop on a Greek-based liner like Celestyal and make the rounds to the more untouched parts of the islands indulging in tradition, eating and drinking like—and with—the locals. As with any good adventure, it all begins with a toast, and Greece is one of the oldest wine-producing regions on the globe.

In addition to being known as the birthplace of Greek legends like father of mathematics Pythagoras and historian Herodotus, the island of Samos is famous for producing sweet dessert Muscat wine. Once the home of the Vatican’s personal winery, Samos still produces communion wine for the Catholic church today and its vino is in high demand by the French market."


Learning Greek through Skype - Neo Kosmos

"Nowadays parents in the diaspora do not have much time to nurture their children's Greek roots. Australia is far away and so trips to Greece are limited, making the process of connecting with Greece more difficult.

The general impression I have while talking with parents of the diaspora is that they are afraid of their kids' possible slower integration in their new country if they encourage speaking Greek at home. But I want to believe that this attitude is fading. It is a pity to listen to adult students of mine regretting not having spoken Greek before."


Residential property owners prefer tourists over tenants - eKathimerini

"According to the most recent available figures from Airbnb, there are around 30,000 residences to let in Greece. Adding the homes rented via other accommodation sites, the overall number is estimated at more than 50,000 around the country. In the case of Airbnb, the increase in numbers compared to last year is impressive at close to 135 percent. The growth of this market shows no signs of abating."


Aug 17, 2016

Greece vows action to seek WWII reparations from Germany - Fox

"Alexis Tsipras urged Germany — the main European contributor to Greece's massive bailout program — to enter negotiations on the matter, which Berlin says has been comprehensively settled in the past.

Tsipras made his comments Tuesday during commemorations for a 1943 Nazi massacre of 317 civilians in the northwestern village of Kommeno."


Cyprus and Greece in Search and Rescue exercise - In Cyprus

"The Defence Ministry announced on Wednesday, the commencement of the Search and Rescue exercise “SALAMIS 01/16” which will take place on Thursday afternoon.

The exercise will take place off the coast of Cyprus and within its area of responsibility in a joint exercise between Cypriot and Greek aeronautical forces."


Human smugglers thrive amid refugee desperation in Greece - BR Now

“Europe has the capacity to deal with this,” Dr. Tomislav Gijatiz of Doctors Without Borders told The New York Times. “Typically, camps are set up in Third World countries because there is no capacity there. These camps are purely the result of policy decisions.”

...For undocumented migrants in Greece, it is easy to disappear. Local police say traffickers use increasingly elite tactics: motorcycle spotters, police informants, and maps of dead spots in border surveillance.

Police recently arrested 29 suspects in connection with two trafficking rings in northern Greece. The alleged smugglers moved at least 600 migrants during several months, using a sophisticated fleet of taxis, scout vehicles, and code language. One gang received an insider tip from a Greek police officer on gaps in the night vision border surveillance network."


Katrougalos: 80 pct of pensioners will see no changes in September - AMNA

"...The minister was responding to criticism by political parties that pensioners are in for a shock as of September, as their pensions will suffer further cuts.

He said the remaining 20 percent of pensioners will see an 8-10 percent cut in their supplementary pension."


Aug 16, 2016

The deceptive August peace in Greece - Der Spiegel

"In Greek politics there is one golden rule: In mid-August should not disturb the peace. The Parliament in Athens is just like the Bundestag in Berlin in the summer break. MEPs have left Athens towards their constituencies or holidays. Sea and sun enjoy those citizens who can still afford holidays ...

...By December, the Greeks must pay 12-13 billion euros in taxes - a new burden on the battered middle class.

....given the difficult situation Tsipras could fall in autumn to a tried and true means There is speculation: early elections. The government insists, however, it remains the official date in autumn 2019."


Turkey requests return of 8 officers who fled to Greece - Philadelphia Tribune

"...Some 35,000 people have been detained for questioning and more than 17,000 of them have been formally arrested to face trial, including soldiers, police, judges and journalists. Tens of thousands more people with suspected links to Gulen have been suspended or dismissed from their jobs in the judiciary, media, education, health care, military and local government.

On Tuesday, police in Istanbul launched simultaneous raids on 44 companies suspected of providing financial support to Gulen's movement while authorities issued warrants to detain 120 company executives, Anadolu reported. The private Dogan news agency said the companies searched included a supermarket chain."


Petrounias flexes his muscles to win rings of gold for Greece - Reuters

"Greek muscle man Eleftherios Petrounias showed off his superior power in the strongman's event as he edged out local favorite and 2012 champion Arthur Zanetti to win the rings gold medal at the Olympics on Monday.

Petrounias added the Rio Games title to the world and European crowns he holds with a score of 16.000."


Aug 15, 2016

Firms fleeing high taxes to face inspections - eKathimerini

"Tax authorities are to begin more intensive checks on companies registered in Bulgaria and Cyprus but which are owned by Greeks to see if they are actually active in Greece and only based abroad to take advantage of much lower corporate taxation.

...According to sources in Athens, discussions with Bulgarian and Cypriot officials have already begun."


Greece: We'll take Merkel to court to recover £230BN WW2 reparations - UK Express

"A group of cross-party Greek MPs are due to report early next month after looking into the issue of compensation payments linked to the Nazi occupation between 1941 to 1944.

...In 2000, Greece’s Supreme Court rejected a Berlin appeal against a law allowing the seizure of German property in compensation for Nazi war crimes.

But the issue of war reparations has heightened since Greece plunged into near-bankruptcy as a result of the eurozone crisis."

More Coverage:

German debts to Greece should be claimed through diplomacy and in court if necessary, says parliament's report - AMNA


Aug 13, 2016

Aid and Attention Dwindling, Migrant Crisis Intensifies in Greece - NY Times

"Seven months after the European Union shut the doors to large numbers of newcomers, Greece remains Europe’s de facto holding pen for 57,000 people trapped amid the chaos. Many are living in a distressing limbo in sordid refugee camps on the mainland and on Greek islands near Turkey.

A year after the world was riveted by scenes of desperate men, women and children streaming through Europe, international attention to their plight has waned now that the borders have been closed and they are largely confined to camps. Anti-immigrant sentiment has surged since last year in many countries, especially as people who entered Europe with the migrant flow are linked to crimes and, in a few cases, attacks planned or inspired by the Islamic State or other radical groups. Neither the prosperous nations of Western and Northern Europe, where the refugees want to settle, nor Turkey, their point of departure for the Continent, are living up to their promises of help."


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