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Greece and the economic crisis 2016

NEWS ARCHIVE - March 1 - March 10



March 10, 2016

Gov’t admits borders are closed - Protothema

"...according to the same sources, the government continues to put the blame on the unilateral actions saying that “regardless of how things go in the next summit, we want EU to condemn the border closing and include it in the summit conclusions, if possible.”

“The conclusions refer to immigrants. But the borders are closed. Our main goal is to have Turkey undertake the refugee management. We argue that a humanitarian route is needed”, said a government official."


Bulgaria and Albania take action fearing refugees massing at their doorstep - eKathimerini

"Fearing that thousands of desperate refugees may show up at their doorstep after the Balkan route to Europe was officially closed, neighboring Albania and Bulgaria are beefing up security along their borders with Greece.

...Despite the official closure of the Balkan corridor, refugees appear unfazed and continue to flock to the area around Idomeni on the Greek side of the border with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) regardless of the deplorable conditions prevailing at the sprawling and overcrowded camp there ..."


Greece deports migrants to Turkey, thousands stranded on Balkan route - DW

"This week, Ankara and EU leaders agreed to work on a plan which would see Turkey take back many more migrants who traveled to Greece - even Syrians who would qualify as refugees. The aim of the EU-Ankara proposals is to remove incentives for people to use traffickers to get to Europe. The influx of more than a million migrants and refugees during the past year has strained the bloc politically, as well as in terms of its humanitarian response. So far this year about 132,000 people have made the perilous and expensive journey from Turkey to Greece on flimsy smugglers' boats."


Greece needs nominal debt haircut to recover, head of Parliament΄s State Budget Office says - Capital GR

"Greece΄s debt as a proportion of GDP was double the average in Europe and a sign of the Greek economy΄s failure, as well as indicating that the country needs a reduction of its nominal debt in order to recover, the head of the Greek Parliament΄s State Budget Office Prof. Panagiotis Liargovas told MPs on Tuesday. "


Refugee Conditions In Greece Are About To Get Much, Much Worse - Huffpost

"Piraeus, the port near Athens well known to tourists for its ferries to Greece’s picturesque islands in the Aegean Sea, has in the past month turned into one of the country’s largest makeshift shelters for different kinds of travelers: migrants and refugees.

In the past weeks, they have taken over four passenger waiting areas at the port as temporary accommodation. In just a few days, 5,000 people were taking shelter there.

The port’s temporary residents are some of the 132,000 migrants and refugees who have arrived in Greece since the beginning of this year. Most want to continue their journey from violence-ridden or poverty-stricken countries in Africa and the Middle East and to find refuge in northern Europe. They have arrived in Piraeus on ferries from the Greek islands, and plan to continue to the Greek-Macedonian border crossing in Idomeni."


Europe gets tough on immigration, American-style - eKathimerini

"The plan represents a major shift for the EU in dealing with the Syrian refugee crisis. In place of a generous legal approach that rejected mass returns of asylum seekers, Europe is now adopting a much more hard-line attitude that distinguishes sharply between migrants seeking illegal entry and refugees who’ve already been processed within Turkey and may be granted legal settlement rights and asylum.

The EU-Turkey deal promises to deliver more than 3 billion euros to Turkey for its role in holding on to Syrians. But the latest announcement contains two key elements not fully clarified before. Each element represents a big change in EU policy, and a point where morality diverges from EU and international law."


March 9, 2016

Balkan Route Closed to Migrants as Part of EU Plan - WSJ

"Macedonia has completely closed its borders to refugees and other migrants crossing from Greece in response to tightening of inflows by Slovenia and Serbia, officials said Wednesday, adding to pressure to finish an EU-Turkey deal."


EU funds to help Greece cope with refugee crisis - Tri-County Sun Times

"Tusk also affirmed that the EU would not abandon Greece and praised the European Union's executive body proposition to set aside £540 million to assist Greece in dealing with the huge number of refugees arriving on its shores every day. The camp is a magnet for people hoping to reach Britain. "

March 8, 2016

Merkel’s migration plan will turn Greece into a huge campsite - UK Guardian

"Dead-set against closing German borders, Merkel has become a lonely giant. Even Europe’s moral superpower Sweden imposed border controls in January, followed by Denmark. In February, Austria gathered the heirs of the former Habsburg empire to close off the “Balkan route” from Turkey into central Europe.

...The chancellor has been trying to bribe Turkey with €3bn to keep refugees out of the Schengen area... Turkey is already playing unwilling host to about 2.5 million Syrians.

....Damming up the traffic in Macedonia turns Greece, a failing state, into one huge campsite. So the Greeks will have to be paid off while the Turks will gouge out a lot more than €3bn. Germany, the EU’s Croesus, will foot most of the bill. "


Greece rules out forced evacuation of migrants - Business Insider

"European Union lawmakers say they will keep a close eye on any EU deal to send thousands of migrants in Greece back to Turkey to ensure that people fleeing conflict are not denied asylum.

...Under the in-principle deal hammered out overnight, the EU would accept one Syrian refugee in need of asylum for every one irregular migrant that Turkey takes back from Greece."


Debt relief talk to start in April - Athens New Agency

"...Eurozone finance ministers were informed by Eurogroup president Jeroen Dijsselbloem that talks on debt relief for Greece will start on April."


Hungary vetoes draft plan; Slovakia, Poland, Czech Rep. & Poland block EU-Turkey refugee draft plan - Protothema

"According to the latest developments in Brussels, the so called Visegrad states (Hungary, Slovakia, Poland and the Czech Republic) are vehemently opposing a proposed plan that seems to have the approval all other EU member states, according to which all illegal immigrants and refugees Visegrad ill be relocated from Greece to Turkey and in turn proportionately relocated across all the EU countries."

More Coverage:

EU-Turkey deal could see Syrian refugees back in war zones, says UN - UK Guardian


March 7, 2016

No progress at EU Summit on refugee crisis; Turkey asks for 20bn - Protothema

"....a scheduled joint press conference at the start of the meeting between Turkish PM Ahmet Davutoglu with European Council President Donald Tusk was put off until after the completion of the meeting. According to Reuters, the Turkish side was willing to take in all non-Syrian economic migrants into to Turkey and toughen its internal border control, if it was given 20bln Euros. According to ‘Politico’ Turkey has tabled 4 new conditions to the EU."


The odd couple: Merkel, Tsipras fate tied over EU refugees deal - eKathimerini

"...As Tsipras and Merkel prepare to attend an emergency European Union summit on migration Monday, the coordinated approach in Iran – made exactly a year after Tsipras opened his premiership with a call for wartime reparations from Germany – illustrates how far they have traveled from opposing sides of Europe’s debt crisis to a common need to overcome the refugee crisis. The Tehran diplomacy also underscores their shared imperative to control arrivals to their respective countries as other governments balk at shared responsibilities and throw up barriers to migrants.

“We now have this peculiar situation where they’re relying on each other,” said Aristides Hatzis, a professor of law and economics at the University of Athens. Until recently, “we had a very different picture of Merkel,” he said. “Now the Germans are our allies.”


Refugees stranded in Greece await news of their fate - MSN

"...One Syrian Kurdish family said they were determined to cross and be reunited with the rest of the family in Germany, no matter what the leaders decide.

"If they close the borders, we will still cross, by any means. Whatever it takes. We will go," said Lasgeen Hassan, 59, from Al Qamishli in Syria. "We have nothing to go back to. Our homes are destroyed."


March 4, 2016

Tsipras: I cannot separate refugees from immigrants - Protothema

"The leaders of the opposition who participated in the political leaders meeting held on Friday morning were shocked by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ statement. According to sources, he admitted that he “cannot separate the refugees from immigrants”.


May deadline to register migrants: EU - Reuters

"Europe will set Greece a deadline of May 12 to register all migrants in an orderly fashion or face more border controls, Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos told a German newspaper on Friday.

.....Avramopoulos told the paper the aim was to lift all border controls that have been instated as a result of the migrant crisis within the passport-free Schengen zone by November."


Tsipras must purge cabinet to lift economy, Greek industry says - eKathimerini

"Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras desperately needs more competent officials in his administration to attract greater investment in the country and put the economy on firmer footing, according to the head of the main Greek business group.

...The comments highlight persistent doubts in Greece and abroad about whether Tsipras’s SYRIZA party has shed enough of its communist roots and acquired sufficient governing skills to navigate the country back to prosperity."


You Might Not Find Greece's Next Crisis in the Bond Market - Bloomberg

"Greece pretty much sits in no-man’s land," said George Zois, a director of distressed debt at Exotix Partners LLP in London. "There tend to be a few hedge funds that still think it could probably turn out to be one of the best money-making ideas for this year, but they are very much in the minority."


March 3, 2016

Macedonia calls on Greece to move migrants away from border - Dayton Daily

"Macedonia's foreign minister is calling on neighboring Greece to move thousands of migrants stuck on its side of the border away to more suitable reception centers.

Nikola Poposki told The Associated Press in an interview Thursday that this would offer stranded migrants "humane and safe treatment," instead of having them in tents a few hundred meters (yards) from the border.

"This is really not a solution," Poposki said of the tent city. "If you really care about these people they should be hosted in reception centers that can host such a large number of people." At least 10,000 Syrian and Iraqi refugees have been waiting for days at the Idomeni crossing on Greece's border with Macedonia, in an official shelter and in tents that they pitched in fields."


Tusk urges migrants to stop coming - Reuters

"From Greece, which has been a primary gateway of migrants flooding into Europe for more than a year, Tusk said anyone who was not a refugee should stay away.

"I want to appeal to all potential illegal economic migrants wherever you are from: Do not come to Europe. Do not believe the smugglers. Do not risk your lives and your money. It is all for nothing," Tusk said.

Up to 30,000 refugees and migrants have been stranded in Greece from progressive border closures further up the "Balkan corridor", the route taken to get into wealthier central and northern Europe."


Greece says International Monetary Fund delaying talks on austerity compliance - Ambienteja

"The IMF is also pushing EU lenders - the European Central Bank, the European Stability Mechanism and the EU Commission - to offer Greece more generous debt relief to make its reform program more sustainable, he said. Failure to strike a deal would hold up the release of the next portion of bailout funding, adding to Greek troubles as a massive influx of refugees threatens to strand thousands of migrants in the nation and cause a humanitarian crisis.

Global lenders could return to Greece within the first 10 days of March to complete a bailout review, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said on Tuesday, a move desperately needed by Athens to move on to debt relief talks."


‘Progress’ in IMF-UE talks on Greek Aid - Business Recorder

"Representatives of the Greece bailout held a working dinner Wednesday in Brussels to try to resolve their differences over what Athens must do to reach the budget targets set last July in exchange for 86 billion euros ($94.2 billion) in EU financial aid.

...IMF spokesman said Thursday that it was vital to clearly define the economic measures required -- notably further pension reductions -- for debt-riddled Greece to obtain its target of reaching a primary surplus of 3.5 percent of gross domestic product in two years."


March 2, 2016

Europe seen on cusp of new humanitarian crisis at Greece-Macedonia border - Reuters

"German Chancellor Angela Merkel said clashes at Greece's border with Macedonia on Monday - when migrants battered down a gate and were tear-gassed - simply underlined the urgency with which the EU needed to act on the crisis.

....Despite commitments to relocate 66,400 refugees from Greece, EU member states have so far pledged just 1,539 spaces and only 325 people actually have been relocated, he added."


EU to allocate 700 mln euros for humanitarian crisis - Protothema

"The European Commission has called on the European Parliament and the European Council to allocate 700 million euros for humanitarian aid for refugees in 2016-2018, Commissioner Christos Stylianides in charge of Humanitarian Aid and Crisis said on Wednesday."


March 1, 2016

Greece seeks EU aid for 100,000 refugees - eKathimerini

"Greece has submitted an emergency plan to the European Commission .. corresponding to around 100,000 refugees," government spokeswoman Olga Gerovassili told reporters.

...With Austria and Balkan states capping the numbers of migrants entering their soil, there has been a swift build-up along the Greek border with Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).

Athens had previously warned that it could be stuck with up to 70,000 people trapped on its territory."

More Coverage:

Up to 200,000 refugees could enter Greece this summer - Ta Nea


Greece's refugee crisis: PM says country is overwhelmed - UK Guardian

"Speaking as the European commission signalled it was putting together an urgent humanitarian aid package for the country after predictions that more than 200,000 men, women and children will be marooned there by summer, the leftwing leader said Brussels had promised “support and solidarity”.

“We are experiencing the biggest refugee crisis since the second world war,” he told Greek Star TV. “The problem surpasses the powers of the country, the strength of a government and the innate weaknesses of the European Union.”


Tsipras: Conclusion of first program review paves the way for debt relief discussion - Captial Gr

"The Greek prime minister reiterated the need for the immediate conclusion of the first program review, adding that Greece fully respects the agreement and the conclusion of the program review will pave the way for the discussion on debt relief. "The first program review will give the green light for the disbursement of funds and a large part will be given for servicing the public debt. The main thing is, however, economic growth," he statedThe Greek prime minister reiterated the need for the immediate conclusion of the first program review, adding that Greece fully respects the agreement and the conclusion of the program review will pave the way for the discussion on debt relief. "The first program review will give the green light for the disbursement of funds and a large part will be given for servicing the public debt. The main thing is, however, economic growth," he stated"


Anti-torture committee warns Greece on over-crowded prisons, police violence - Yahoo

"Vulnerable prisoners are not being cared for and, in some cases, are being allowed to die," the Council's Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment said in a report based on a 2015 visit to Greece.

"The main problems of overcrowding and chronic shortage of staff persist," it said, acknowledging that Athens had taken steps to reduce the number of inmates, many of whom had to face widespread violence among prisoners and intimidation."


ND polling ahead of Syriza in new polls - Capital GR

"Two new opinion polls by the University of Macedonia and Metron Analysis show New Democracy polling ahead of Syriza. In particular, a poll conducted by the University of Macedonia for Skai TV shows ND at 24% and Syriza at 17.5%. The Golden Dawn is third (6%) and is followed by the Communist Party (5.5%), the Democratic coalition (alliance of PASOK and Democratic Left; at 4.5 %) and the Center Union (4.5%). Independent Greeks (2.5%), To Potami (2.0%) and Popular Unity (2.0%) are below the 3% threshold."


NEWS ARCHIVE - March 2016

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