Greece and the economic crisis

October 20, 2016

Greece may get financial boost from EU refugee crisis - RT Com

"The funds will not be available immediately, but if agreed by the EU member states and the European Parliament, €300 million will be allocated this year. Two installments of €200 million are to follow in 2017 and 2018."

More Coverage:

Greece Might Just Get a Boost From an Unlikely Source - Bloomberg

Bankruptcy law changes on the way - Kathimerini

"The Justice Ministry is set to change the Bankruptcy Code considerably with the aim of modernizing the framework for overindebted enterprises so as to assist in their streamlining and cut down on nonperforming corporate loans from banks that currently total 65 billion euros. "

Brazil, Greece, Indonesia, Azerbaijan and Guatemala face Wada sanctions - BBC

"Azerbaijan and Guatemala are the other nations facing censure because of flaws in their drug testing programmes.

The five countries have until 10 November to prove their compliance with Wada's anti-doping code. "

The 2017 budget may cause recession, parliamentary budget office says - Capital GR

"...The budget office proposes a downward revision of the targets for primary surpluses and a redistribution of the burden between taxes and expenses in favour of the latter. The report also notes the need to reduce the primary surplus targets until and after 2018."

Fraport Greece unveils plans for upgrading Macedonia airport in Thessaloniki - Tornos

"The plans envisage that by 2020 Thessaloniki will have one of the best airports in the world, with passenger traffic expected to increase by 48 pct by 2026, signalling a new era for tourism in the city and the wider region.

The airport will be double in size, with the space of the terminal station rising from 25,000 sq.m. to 57,000 sq.m.. Check-in stations will rise by 47 pct, baggage zones rising by 75 pct, the number of gates rising 50 pct and security zones in the airport to double in numbers..."

'Holiday from hell' when they arrived in Greece - UK Daily Mail

"A young couple who spent almost £1,000 on their first trip abroad together had the ‘holiday from hell’ in Greece when their hotel turned out to be a building site. Toby Emerson, 19, and his girlfriend Danielle Hutchinson, 20, of Skelton-in-Cleveland, Lancashire, said their week-long stay in Falaraki was ruined.

The students claimed their Thomas Cook package deal was marred by noisy construction work, a lack of hot water and harassment from builders. "

Aid Group: Refugees Facing 'Appalling Conditions' in Greece - ABC News

"...In the highly critical report issued Thursday, the agency commonly known by its French name, Medecins sans Frontieres, argued that the European Union and Greece had "collectively failed to establish humane and dignified reception conditions."

More than 60,000 refugees and migrants — many escaping wars in Syria and Iraq — have been stranded in Greece following European border closures this year. Most still live in tents at about 50 refugee camps."

October 19, 2016

Archbishop of Greece to Government: ‘We Will Not Deliver Our Homeland and Faith to You’ - Greek Reporter

"During his speech, Ieronymos challenged the government to not mess with Greece’s religion. “You may have sold out Greece’s treasures, our trains, our ports, but we will not hand over to you our homeland and our Orthodox faith,” he said.

Speaking about the economic crisis, the Archbishop said that, “these are hard times and all people are suffering. We need to be clear on what we want, what kind of family we want, how we want our children to be, how we want to live tomorrow, what kind of vision we have,” and added, “It is time we all need to wonder: Should we start supporting individuals instead of political parties?”

Greek government pins debt relief hopes on Obama visit - eKathimerini

"The SYRIZA-led coalition, which sees Obama’s visit as a confirmation of Greece’s role as a bastion of stability in a volatile region, is banking on his support in its bid to convince creditors of the need to restructure the country’s debt.

Statements emanating from Washington, with regard to this and the need for growth policies to replace austerity, have galvanized the leftist government, which has been turning its gaze stateside for support.

And regardless of what happens until the US president’s arrival in Greece, his visit – which has yet to be officially confirmed – is seen as an important signal of support that will send a powerful message about the prospects of the Greek economy to international investors."

Greek central gov't cash balance in deficit of 1.144 bln euros in Jan-Sept - Athens News Agency

"Greece's central government cash balance recorded a deficit of 1,144 million euros in the January-September period this year, compared to a deficit of 2,499 million in the same period in 2015, the Bank of Greece said on Wednesday. "

Opposition calls for postponement of boradcasting council decision - eKathimerini

"Greek opposition parties – with the exception of the KKE communist party and far-right Golden Dawn – on Wednesday requested from a meeting between Parliamentary Speaker Nikos Voutsis and the House's deputy speakers to postpone a decision on the composition of the new National Broadcasting Council (ESR)."

October 18, 2016

Greece cannot tap markets without debt cut: central banker - Yahoo

Greece will not be able to return to credit markets as planned without debt relief, the struggling country's central banker said Monday.

"If the Greek debt is not judged to be viable, the expected market exit in 2018 is not possible," Bank of Greece governor Yannis Stournaras told a business lobby.

"The talks must begin now and be concluded as soon as possible."

Greece gets two expressions of interest for maintenance ROSCO sale - Reuters

"Greece has received two expressions of interest for the purchase of ROSCO, its rail maintenance company, the country's privatisation agency said on Monday.

It said it had received expressions from Ferrovie dello Stato Italiane SpA and Skoda Transportation.

Advisors to the privatisations agency, HRADF, would recommend which candidates qualified for the next phase of the process which involved access to detailed information on the asset and transaction terms."

Pavlopoulos to Erdogan: Treaty of Lausanne ‘Finally and Irrevocably’ Determined Both Greece’s and EU’s Borders With Turkey - Greek Reporter

“Greece has always supported the constitutional legitimacy in Turkey; we wish to have good neighborly relations. Greece is Turkey’s gateway to Europe,” he underlined and added: “That means that we respect both history and international law. And it is known that the Treaty of Lausanne finally and irrevocably has not only determined Greece’s borders with Turkey but also Europe’s borders with Turkey because Greece’s borders are also EU borders, since according to European law, the EU borders are also the borders of the member states.”

October 17, 2016

Greece's lenders to launch new review as Athens digs in on debt relief - Reuters

"Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras was re-elected a year ago promising to fight to revive collective bargaining and resist reforms that may lower the minimum wage. But he also needs a swift conclusion of the review to achieve Athens's primary goal of restructuring a mountain of debt, the highest in the euro zone, and mollifying an increasingly jaded public worn by years of austerity and unemployment.

Some opinion polls show Tsipras trailing opposition conservatives by up to 10 points, so the pressure is on for him to deliver."

EU and IMF auditors to visit Athens as Greece's agony continues - UK Guardian

"Fourteen months after being bailed out to the tune of €86bn (£77bn) – Greece’s third financial rescue since 2010 – representatives of the EU and the International Monetary Fund fly in on Monday to review progress on economic reforms promised by the government in exchange for rescue funds.

The creditors’ visit is taking place against a backdrop of ongoing economic difficulty for the nation. Seven years into its worst slump in post-war history, the eurozone’s weakest link is saddled with anaemic growth, stubbornly high unemployment, poor export growth, consumer pessimism and debt of more than €330bn."

October 15, 2016

Mitsotakis: ‘Populism is effective in opposition and ineffective in government’ - Capital GR

"Mitsotakis said tackling populism constitutes a crucial issue for Greece whether it comes from the Left of the Right. “SYRIZA was elected supported by a big lie. Inevitably, the country collided with reality. We had to sign a third memorandum. The economy remains in recession. Six years after the outbreak of the crisis, Greece remains in aid programs. 90% of the population believes the country is heading in the wrong direction,” he said.

Concerning his party’s recipe for an exit from the crisis, the ND leader said Greece needs a new policy mix that will include cutting taxation and government spending to bring growth."

October 13, 2016

Greece and Europe: A Troubled Economic Partnership - Huffington Post

It is rumored that Constantine Karamanlis, the Greek statesman who was the architect of Greece’s participation in the European Union, once remarked, “I am throwing the Greeks into the sea, and they will have to learn to swim.”

Thirty-five years down the road, it is still uncertain whether the Greeks, able sea navigators throughout their history, can prove to be good swimmers in the European seas.

The crisis of 2010 in addition to earlier mini crises and near misses of the late 1980s and early 1990s are indicative of the roughness of the seas that the Greeks have had to navigate and their well-documented resolve to do things “their way.”

Greece warns of 'devastating results' without debt relief- Fox News

"In a letter Thursday to EU Finance Commissioner Pierre Moscovici, 36 lawmakers from Greece's ruling Syriza party and European allies parties urged the EU to press eurozone bailout lenders to start negotiating new terms on the whopping 315 billion euro ($347.5 billion) Greek national debt. That would entail longer maturities and a smoother repayment schedule."

October 12, 2016

Unless we fix it, our debt will be a problem, says Greece - Reuters

Remarkably disingenuous (or ironic) headline from Reuters.

"Greece called for a swift resolution of its debt crisis on Wednesday, saying its debt mountain would remain unsustainable even in a post-recession era with healthy rates of growth.

The crisis-hit country has been lobbying hard to get its debt, which at 176 percent of GDP is the highest in the euro zone, back to manageable levels. International lenders agree to the idea, but have yet to agree how it will work."

Greece: Bomb at Bookstore Causes Damage, No Injuries - New York Times

"Police in Greece say a central Athens bookstore selling survivalist literature has been targeted in a bomb attack, causing damage but no injuries.

The blast occurred late Wednesday following warning telephone calls to a newspaper and news website, with the device exploding a few minutes earlier than the time given by the anonymous caller."

October 11, 2016

Council of State to convene over TV permits Wednesday, Friday - eKathimerini

"Greece’s Council of State, the country’s highest administrative court, was expected to convene on Wednesday and Friday to decide on the constitutionality of a recent competition carried out by the coalition government for four national television channel permits.

...The court has already rejected appeals by several TV channels against the recent auction."

Eurogroup to decide on potential disbursement of EUR2.8bn loan tranche - Capital GR

"The EWG that will meet in Luxembourg at 3 pm (Athens time) is expected to be the first one to give the green light for the disbursement of the 2.8-billion-euro loan sub-tranche provided that the prior actions have been successfully met while the decision for the disbursement will be taken later in the day by the ESM."

Greek Finance ministry has strengthened legal weaponry against tax evasion, Alexiadis says - Athens News Agency

"Greek Finance ministry has strengthened its legal weaponry against tax evasion with a new legal framework offering the possibility of automated exchange of information between services for all taxpayers included in foreign lists, Finance Alternate Minister Tryfon Alexiadis said on Tuesday."

Greece rejects asylum requests from more Turkish soldiers - eKathierini

"Greece has rejected asylum requests from seven of eight Turkish soldiers who fled there after an abortive coup attempt against President Tayyip Erdogan in July, their lawyer said on Tuesday.

...Four members of the group were informed on Tuesday their asylum claims had been rejected by a first-instance board, joining another three previously rejected. One of them has lodged an appeal while the asylum board has not issued a decision on the eighth applicant."

Greece opens center for unaccompanied minors - Fox News

"Mouzalas said some 2,200 unaccompanied minors are currently in Greece, of whom 1,000 live in specialized accommodation. Some 60,000 refugees and other migrants have been trapped in the country following a series of border closures.

Human rights groups have repeatedly criticized living conditions for unaccompanied minors. Mouzalas said 25 are currently in police custody, for their own protection, and will be resettled by next week."

October 10, 2016

Why Greece Is Eyeing the IMF to Help Ease Its Debt Pile - Bloomberg

"I've often said that Greece in this situation, it has nothing to do with her politics, it's to do with two elephants fighting it out, and Greece is a little gazelle trying to avoid to being stamped on."

"...Greek Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos said that Germany’s opposition to debt relief is at odds with its demands that the International Monetary Fund join the bailout program. Speaking in an interview on Friday with Bloomberg's Francine Lacqua, Tsakalotos said he conveyed this message to his German counterpart Wolfgang Schaeuble earlier in the day. IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde has expressed skepticism that Greece can recover without a reduction in its debt load, though Schaeuble said as recently as Thursday that the Mediterranean country should meet its commitments, adding that it doesn’t have to pay interest for more than a decade."

October 9, 2016

IMF says still engaged with Greece, no decision yet on bailout role - Reuters

"The IMF's comment came after two sources with direct knowledge of the Greek bailout talks told Reuters on Saturday that negotiations for the fund to commit financial resources to the program are making little headway and the IMF likely would accept a special advisory status with limited powers.

...The IMF has been holding out for more than a year over the terms under which it would participate in any new Greek bailout, arguing that the fiscal targets set in the European bailout are unrealistic without major debt relief for Greece. "

Greece Submits Complaint to NATO Over Turkish Submarines in Aegean Waters - Greek Reporter

"The Greek Foreign Ministry and the National Defense General Staff (GEETHA) filed a complaint regarding the presence of Turkey’s submarines in Greek territorial waters that coincided with provocative statements made by Turkish officials disputing Greece’s borders and questioning the Lausanne Treaty. The treaty defined territory between Greece and Turkey following the collapse of the Ottoman Empire."

October 8, 2016

Greece likely to get part or all of next loan tranche on Monday - Reuters

"Euro zone finance ministers are likely to approve on Monday the disbursement of much or all of the money from the 2.8 billion euro ($3.14 billion) tranche of loans Greece is waiting for, two senior euro zone officials said on Friday.

The disbursement in part or in full is likely because the country has met almost all the 15 reform milestones agreed with lenders as conditions for the payout."

Tsakalotos Says German Position on Debt Is Unrealistic - Bloomberg

"Speaking in an interview on Friday with Bloomberg Television, Tsakalotos said he conveyed this message to his German counterpart Wolfgang Schaeuble earlier in the day. The two are participating in annual meetings of the IMF and World Bank in Washington.

IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde has expressed skepticism that Greece can recover without a reduction in its debt load, though Schaeuble said as recently as Thursday that the Mediterranean country should meet its commitments, adding that it doesn’t have to pay interest for more than a decade."

Hundreds of flights canceled in Greece ahead of strikes - India Times

"Airlines on Saturday announced the cancellation of hundreds of flights in and out of Greece ahead of a series of one-day strikes by the country's air traffic controllers. Aegean, the country's largest airline, and its subsidiary Olympic Air cancelled all of their flights in or out of the country for tomorrow, when the walkout is set to begin.

Irish budget airline Ryanair has grounded 110 flights scheduled for today and tomorrow, calling on the European Commission to take action "to prevent these repeated ATC strikes from continuously disrupting the travel plans of millions of Europe's citizens and their families".

October 7, 2016

Creditors at odds on Greek debt - eKathimerini

"Questioned by Kathimerini about the eurozone officials’ call for the Fund to back down on its debt lightening demand, IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde said, “We have displayed flexibility in the past in assessing the sustainability of the debt, but we clearly believe that as it is the debt is not sustainable.”

The French official added that the conditions for the IMF’s participation in the Greek program “have not changed. We believe that very significant structural reforms must be made and we also believe that the debt has to become sustainable in the future.”

Lagarde reiterated the Fund’s view that it will not participate in the Greek bailout programme - Capital GR

"...She stressed that Greece has implemented some reforms but still lots of work still needs to be done, while the IMF mission for Greece will return to Athens in about two weeks to help out with the second review of the ESM programme."

Greek exports grew by an average annual growth rate of 1.45 pct in 2001-2005 - Athens News Agency

"The report noted that in the period from 2001 until 2008 exports grew steadily with the exception of 2005, while in the period 2009-2013 exports fell sharply. Export trends were volatile in the last two years as from 2012 onwards both exports and imports showed signs of stabilization. Greek imports fell by 15.99 pct in the last 15 years, leaving the country's accumulated trade deficit at 348 billion euros, almost equal to the country's public debt of 338 billion, of which 219 billion euros were formed in the 2001-2008 period."

Will Helena Paparizou return to Eurovision next year? - ESC Today

"As the rumour mill in Athens is getting hotter by the minute regarding on whom will fly the Greek flag in Kyiv next year, Greek media is speculating that the 2005 Greek Eurovision winer is vying to represent Greece at the forthcoming 2017 Eurovision Song Contest. Today during a morning show aired on private Greek channel Ant 1, well known Greek tv host/journalist Themis Georgantas spilled the beans and said that Helena Paparizou is considering to return to Eurovision next year and is currently in discussions regarding the matter."

Further Coverage:

Greece Confirms participation in Eurovision 2017 - Wiwi

Seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in July 2016 was 23.2% - Ta Nea

"In particular, according to data of ELSTAT, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in July 2016 was 23.2% versus 24.8% in July 2015 and 23.4% in June 2016. The total number of employees, in July 2016, was estimated at 3,703,828 people. Unemployed amounted to 1,120,843 persons while the economically inactive population totaled 3.22078 million people.

The number of employed increased by 80 663 persons compared with July 2015 (2.2% increase) and 14.617 persons compared with June 2016 (up 0.4%). The unemployed decreased by 76 727 persons compared with July 2015 (down 6.4%) and 5.395 persons compared with June 2016 (down 0.5%)."

October 6, 2016

Attica Bank to issue collateral bonds for central bank borrowing - Reuters

"Attica Bank will issue government-guaranteed bonds that can serve as collateral to borrow funds from the Greek central bank's emergency liquidity facility (ELA), its deputy chief executive told Reuters on Thursday.

The bank, majority owned by the engineers pension fund TSMEDE, suffered deposit outflows in the last month after the Bank of Greece asked it to freeze lending and address corporate governance issues.

"We will issue 380 million euros of such bonds to have a comfortable collateral cushion for tapping the central bank's ELA (emergency liquidity assistance) window," Deputy CEO Thanasis Tsadaris told Reuters."

Public Uproar Over Home Auctions in Greece - Greek Reporter

"Dozens of auctions are taking place throughout courts in Greece, with many of them being cancelled due to demonstrations and interventions by angry citizens.

In Thessaloniki on Wednesday, protesters clashed with riot police outside the county court where an 80 home of a six-member family was auctioned."

Greece to Begin Schooling Migrant Children - VOA

"Greek Education Minister Nikos Filis said Wednesday that 1,500 children would be taught at 20 public schools or in classrooms at six refugee camps starting Monday.

“Schooling refugee children falls under Greece’s international obligations,” Filis told a news conference."

Lagarde: Greece hasn't done enough - eKathimerini

"IMF chief Christine Lagarde said on Thursday that Greece has more work to do on reforms, essentially confirming fears that the Washington-based organization is not yet prepared to participate in Greece's third bailout.

Lagarde made her remarks ahead of the Annual Meetings of the IMF and the World Bank Group in Washington Thursday, signaling dismay with European leaders, for not having agreed to restructure Greece's debt, and Athens, for doing enough on reforms. The IMF has already expressed reservations about changes to Greece's tax system and social security which were passed into law by Parliament before the summer."

October 5, 2016

Greece sees jump in migrant border crossings - Washington Post

"Greek police detained 214 Syrian refugees after they crossed a river that forms a natural border with Turkey, authorities said Wednesday.

The announcement marked the second recent mass crossing of the Evros River — 107 refugees were detained in the same border area last week.

A police official told The Associated Press that refugees and other migrants were taking advantage of current low river levels near the border town of Orestiada. "

ECB lowers emergency funding cap for Greek banks to 51.8 bln euros - eKathimerini

"The move reflected improving liquidity conditions in Greek banks and the stabilisation of private sector deposit flows, it said. The ELA ceiling is valid up to October 20.

Greek banks have relied on emergency liquidity assistance (ELA) since February 2015... "

Exiled in despair: Migrants in Greece losing hope - Fox News

"More than 60,000 refugees and migrants are stuck in Greece, stranded by measures designed by the European Union to stop more traveling to the continent. Only 4,500 people — less than 10 percent of the total — have been placed so far in EU countries, where anti-immigrant sentiment is on the rise.

Greece's government is scrambling to provide container huts before the winter, while camp dwellers have turned the tent city into a tiny shanty town: hammering furniture together out of scrap wood, cooking on cinder block stoves and hoisting tarp covers for roofing."

Greece’s Passenger Shipping Market Shrinking - GTP GR

"The study, which examines domestic coastal shipping, the Greece-Italy route and ferry services, found that Greece’s passenger shipping market has decreased in size by 32 percent in the last seven years, suffering losses to the tune of 7.8 million passengers and 2.9 million vehicles in the 2008-2014 period."

October 4, 2016

Prince Charles lays flowers on the grave of his grandmother Princess Alice of Greece - Hello

"Princess Alice is buried at the beautiful Church of St Mary Magdalene, above the Garden of Gethsemane, on the Mount of Olives.

..She passed away in 1969, and was first laid to rest in St George's Chapel in Windsor – but, her final wish was to be buried at the Russian orthodox convent, near her aunt Elizabeth, the Grand Duchess of Russia, who was killed by the Bolsheviks and declared a Russian Orthodox saint. Prince Charles also laid flowers at the grave of his ancestor Elizabeth.

Princess Alice's remains were transferred to the church in August 1988, but it wasn't until 1994 that her son, the Duke of Edinburgh, first visited the site, when he travelled to Israel for a ceremony honouring her for saving Greek Jews during the Second World War."

EU Commission would like Greek debt deal by year-end - Reuters

"By the end of the year I would like to see, to strike an agreement on debt," Moscovici told parliamentarians.

"That is indeed legitimate and has been long awaited, that requires an effort to be made on all sides, creditors, all partners in the Eurogroup and also the Greek authorities when it comes to implementing the reform programme," he said.

Following a restructuring of privately-held Greek bonds in 2012, euro zone governments are now, through their bailout fund, the main owners of Greek debt. The Commission itself does not hold any Greek bonds."

Stavroula Tsolakidou: 16-year-old Greek girl wins World Chess championship - Tornos News

"Greek 16-year-old Stavroula Tsolakidou is the world champion in the Young Chess Tournament that was held in Khanty-Mansiysk in Russia. Stavroula earned 9 points in 11 matches and was declared the winner in the world tournament. The 16-year- old girl returns to Greece with the whole team and from Wednesday school will be her top priority. From last year she had been declared world champion within 16 years olds but this year she struggled in a strong battlefield with older than her age chess players (18 years old), succeeding something very important for Greece and Greek Chess. The president of Stavroula’s team, the Chess Club of Kavala, Vasilis Theodoridis, couldn’t hide his delight and satisfaction: “Her distinction is unique. No athlete, ever before, has ever won three championships in a row in this young age”.

October 3, 2016

Greece’s 2017 Budget Plan Sticks With Robust Growth Forecast - WSJ

"The 53-page budget sticks with Greece’s previous forecasts that the economy is expected to contract by 0.3% this year before growing by 2.7% in 2017. Many see these targets as too optimistic, saying the economy is now entering a period of stagnation, rather than growth, having shrunk by more than 25% since the debt crisis erupted in 2010.

“Although there are some indications pointing to some stabilization in the economy, tight fiscal policy, difficult credit conditions and muted external growth are expected to limit the recovery in 2017,” said Diego Iscaro, senior economist at consulting firm IHS Global Insight."

Greece expects growth, lower debt, unemployment to ease in 2017-draft budget - Reuters

"Recession-hit Greece on Monday predicted a return to growth in 2017 and a drop in its huge debt burden via a tax-heavy draft budget submitted to parliament, pledging to meet the reform targets of lenders throwing it a financial lifeline."

Where is the IMF on Greece? - Reuters

"Though Greece secured some debt-servicing relief in past negotiations, the debt overhang serves as a barrier to international business confidence in the country’s prospects. It is an enormous obstacle to the sustainable return to the capital markets by both Greece’s government and its private sector, despite very favourable market conditions due to low interest rates and the widespread search for yield by investors.

There is also a crucial political dimension: debt relief is essential to prevent an otherwise probable political upheaval within Greece and the country’s possible departure from the euro zone."

September 30, 2016

Erdogan comments on historic treaty irks opposition, Greece - Fox News

"Erdogan suggested in an address on Thursday that the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne, which Turkish nationalists negotiated with the Allies, cannot be considered a "victory" because Turkey had lost to Greece several islands near its coast that were part of the Ottoman Empire.

His words angered Turkey's main opposition party, whose late leader negotiated the treaty."

More Coverage:

Greece says Erdogan remarks on islands 'dangerous' for bilateral ties - Reuters

Bill with prior actions voted but green light for disbursement unlikely before 10th October - Capital Gr

"SYRIZA and ANEL voted in favour while all the other parties voted against with 141 votes. One SYRIZA MP, Kostas Seltsas, was absent. New Democracy, the Democratic Coalition and the Communist Party asked for a roll-call vote on the principle of the bill and on the articles 1 and 2."

Erdogan as Ataturk - eKathimerini

"The Treaty of Lausanne established not only Turkey’s borders with Greece but also with its eastern neighbors – Syria and Iraq. Those borders divided the territory in which the three countries’ Kurds live.

At a time when the Kurdish issue is at the forefront because of the war against the so-called Islamic State, Syria’s disintegration and the renewed fighting with Kurdish separatists in Turkey, a responsible government would not dare to broach the issue of border changes."

Haircut possible for mortgages - eKathimerini

"...The first possibility under consideration concerns splitting the loan and forgiving a part of it: The first part would be calculated based on the market value of the property and the debtor’s capacity for repayment.

...The second option for a partial write-off is just before the sale of the loan to funds."

September 29, 2016

A New Twist on Greece’s Old-Style Dysfunction - WSJ

"...On Sept. 15, corruption prosecutors in Athens raided the advertising business of Lina Nikolopoulou-Stournara, whose husband, Yannis Stournaras, is the governor of Greece’s central bank. The raid was ostensibly part of an investigation into funds allegedly misused by KEELPNO, Greece’s centre for disease control.

But this raid had been ordered by the corruption prosecutor, Eleni Raikou, and not the magistrate responsible for the case, which is highly irregular. It occurred merely a few hours after Mr. Stournaras had notified the government that he was vetoing its picks for key positions...

...The seeds of the latest showdown were sown in October when Yannis Dragasakis, the moderate deputy prime minister, revealed in Parliament the government’s new lending strategy and nonsystemic Attica Bank’s role in that plan: “What is needed is the creation of a parallel banking system that will not be under the supervision of the European Central Bank,” he said."

[Education Minister Nikos Filis] denies seeking confrontation with Church, during Parliament debate - AMNA

"...He pointed out that the new religious studies programme for schools was designed by an Educational Policy Institute committee that included theologians, and had been tested on a pilot basis for three years.

The minister also presented a three-year educational reform plan that included 10 years mandatory schooling and shifts away from exam-centred models, the abolition of nationwide university entrance exams by the present Parliament and the creation of a uniform research and education "area"."

Almost half of workers fear being sacked in near future - eKathimerini

"This form of insecurity soars to 57 percent among young workers (aged between 18 and 24 years), while the fear of job losses is also above the average for those with a lower education level, at 42 percent.

Having hovered around 25 percent for years, Greece has by far the highest unemployment rate in the European Union."

Greece planning to move migrants to mainlands as tensions in camps boil over - UK Express

"[Greek European Affairs Minister Nikos Xydakis ] blamed other EU countries for not pulling their weight under the crisis, blaming long waits and tensions for the fires and unrest in the camps.

He said: "Most EU countries take on far too few refugees, some countries do not even respond to our requests."

Despite the deal migrants are still arriving on the Greek islands."

September 28, 2016

Greece like 'a slave' to lenders with little power left: Varoufakis - CNBC

"The Greek authorities have committed to agreeing with (lending) institutions. I can assure you that if you were going to sign a contract like that with me you would become my slave," he told CNBC on Tuesday.

..."If you read the third MOU (the Memorandum of Understanding, the bailout contract) between Greece and its creditors, which was passed in parliament in the August of 2015, it's very clear: 'The Greek authorities commit to agreeing with institutions' (it says). I can assure you that if you were going to sign a contract like that with me you would become my slave," Varoufakis said.

"That's what it means. I'm committed to agree with you but you're not committed to agree with me. So there's the Greek government. The Greek government in Athens (now) has fewer degrees of freedom than a small suburban town council does."

Earthquake Strikes Southern Greece; No Injuries, Damage - ABC News

"The Athens Geodynamic Institute says an earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 5 has struck off the southern coast of the Peloponnese in southern Greece. No damage or injuries were reported immediately."

Greece passes new reforms for fresh batch of bailout aid - Reuters

"....Government officials say the transfer - grouping privatisation agency TAIPED, bank stability fund HFSF, state real estate and some state entities under a holding company - did not constitute plans for a sell-off, but more effective management.

"Transferring (the assets) to the fund does not mean the state forfeits its property. Secondly it does not mean privatisation, and thirdly, these assets are not collateral for the loans of the country," Energy Minister Panos Skourletis told a parliamentary debate earlier."

September 27, 2016

Greece govt populism made adjustment worse: EU's Dombrovskis - Reuters

"Greece has had to go through tougher austerity than it would have otherwise been necessary, because of the populist stance of the left-wing government of Alexis Tsipras in 2015, European Commission Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis said on Monday.

..."We could see that in the ... classic example of Greece. A new government came with a populist stance, that we don’t need any austerity regimes, we will spend as much as we want," he said.

"And, in fact, Greece now implements tougher austerity measures than it would have been necessary if [reforms] of the previous government were continued at the time," he said."

Egyptian delegation travels to Greece to discuss investment - Egypt Independent

"...The visit aims to take action on the restoration of some antiquities belonging to Egypt in Greece under the supervision of the Egyptian Embassy there, said Hany Berzy, head of the Egyptian group at the Egypt-Greece Business Council during the conference."

Greece’s unions rail against privatization fund - Salt Lake Tribune

"The fund called the Hellenic Company of Assets and Participations will take control of public utilities and other assets for 99 years if parliament approves draft legislation late Tuesday. The Greek Finance Ministry will appoint the majority of members on the fund's executive board, but lenders will appoint its chairman.

...A funding dispute involving the government and a private operator has left Thessaloniki, Greece's second largest city, without local bus services for 10 days."

What kind of country do we want Greece to be? - Neo Kosmos

"Let's say in the next few years all this catastrophe around Greece's economic conditions is addressed and things start to get better, it is still a question about how inclusive a society Greece can be. The refugee issue is one dramatic way in which the test of its inclusiveness, the whole continent's inclusiveness, is being dramatically played out," Professor Kompridis told Neos Kosmos.

And he says there's no better place to start than rethinking the story told about Greek national identity.

"If you go back to a city like Thessaloniki, up until the Second World War you have a multi-ethnic, multi-national, religiously diverse city. But the story Greeks tell about the formation of the Greek state excludes its Muslim, Jewish, Albanian, multi-ethnic past and all the presence of many different peoples on that land over centuries," he explains.

September 25, 2016

Polling has New Democracy ahead at 31% - Ta Nea

"In voting intention, New Democracy leads with 31% against Syriza who polls with 18.5%, followed by Golden Dawn with 6.5%, then the Communist Party with 5.5%.

Decades-old taboos being smashed - eKathimerini

"All of this means one thing. Tsipras’s successors will find the road well paved – both on an ideological and political level – so they won’t balk when confronted with the obvious.

The people have no more illusions about whether we can be a semi-Soviet state and a wealthy country at the same time. This happened, it lasted – inexplicably – too long, and now it’s over."

September 24, 2016

Greece submits reform bill to parliament to get bailout funds - Reuters

"With 153 lawmakers in the 300-seat parliament, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras' leftist-led government is expected to pass the vote, which will also signal the conclusion of the country's first bailout review."

Bulgaria Should Prioritize Gas Links with Greece, Romania - EU Official - novinite

"Bulgaria should work to complete the interconnectors linking its gas transportation networks with Greece and Romania, the EU Commission spokesperson for Specific Energy Union Projects has said.

...Adamowicz has thus dashed Sofia's hopes that its Balkan Gas Hub project would get support from Brussels in the short term, saying Bulgaria has to go through the list of Projects of Common Interest (PCI) of the EU."

September 23, 2016

Greece needs substantial debt relief, surplus targets unrealistic: IMF - Reuters

"The review, which is separated from current bailout programme talks, said the debt relief must be calibrated on credible fiscal and growth targets and noted that current primary budget goals of 3.5 percent of economic output beyond 2018 are unlikely to be reached.

"The authorities' current targets remain unrealistic, in that they still assume that Greece will attain and sustain primary surpluses of 3.5 percent of GDP for many decades despite double-digit unemployment rates," the IMF review said."

More coverage from Reuters: In interview, Tsipras sketches out path for Greece to exit crisis

Greece hit by more port strikes - Splash 24

"A two-day strike at Greek ports will end tomorrow morning at 0.600 hrs. The strike has brought all ships to a halt as the Greek Seamen’s Federation protest a reduction of their supplementary pensions."

September 21, 2016

Greece rejects asylum request by three Turkish soldiers, they can appeal decision - police sources - Reuters

"The three were among eight members of the Turkish military who flew a Black Hawk helicopter to northern Greece on July 16, hours after a foiled coup attempt against Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan.

...Under Greek law, the verdict can be appealed."

Aid Workers Warned Greece’s Moria Camp Was A Ticking Time Bomb. No One Listened. It Burned. - Huff Post

"For months, aid organizations warned of deplorable conditions at Moria camp, an outdoor Greek detention center housing some 4,000 migrants and refugees on the island of Lesbos. They slammed an asylum process that caused refugees to languish.

On Monday, a violent confrontation between desperate refugees and migrants left people bloodied and bruised. Rumors of mass deportations to Turkey only added to the panic. Then, a fire engulfed the camp.

...Greek Migration Minister Giannis Mouzalas assured the mayor of Lesbos in an official letter that there is not going to be a new “hospitality center” built on the island. He insisted that the government is working hard to decongest Lesbos and other Greek islands sheltering thousands of desperate arrivals.

Plans for a new refugee center had been a point of great contention for some locals."

Tsipras Defeat in Attica Battle Bolsters Bank of Greece Governor - Bloomberg

"Stournaras, a former finance minister, threatened to put Attica Bank under administration if it didn’t appoint his nominee as chief executive officer. The move ruffled feathers in the government, which sees Attica -- majority owned by state-backed pension funds -- as a vehicle of influence over the financial sector as the only lender falling outside the European Central Bank’s direct regulatory purview. Faced with Stournaras’s threat, Attica shareholders backed his nominee on Tuesday, bolstering the Bank of Greece governor who has questioned Tsipras on everything from his tax-heavy fiscal policies to his dealings with creditors.

...The Attica Bank affair became entangled with a separate controversy on Tuesday after Greek financial newspaper Imerisia reported that auditors found 126 million euros ($141 million) of loans to construction magnate Christos Kalogritsas since 2011, including 55 million euros in 2015 when the country’s financial system came to the brink of collapse. The Kalogritsas family won one of four TV licenses after bidding 53 million euros at an auction this month, a move heavily criticized by Greece’s opposition."

Athens' unofficial community initiatives offer hope after government failures - UK Guardian

“What we are witnessing is an explosion of social networks born of bottom-up initiatives,” says Stavrides, who was among the activists whose spontaneous efforts stopped the lot being turned into a parking space in late 2009. “Navarinou heralded this new culture, this new spirit of people taking their lives into their own hands. They know that they can no longer expect the state to support them and through this process, they are discovering how important it is to share.”

It is a movement that has confounded expectation. Greece is both an anarchic and a self-absorbed nation, where notions of civil society have never been strong. Instead, individualism has always burned bright."

September 20, 2016

Thousands flee as blaze sweeps through Moria refugee camp in Greece - UK Guardian

"Thousands of refugees detained at one of Greece’s biggest camps, on the island of Lesbos, have fled the facility amid scenes of mayhem after some reportedly set fire to it on Monday.

Up to 4,000 panic-stricken men, women and children rushed out of the installation, which is surrounded by a barbed wire fence, following rumours of mass deportations to Turkey.

“Between 3,000 and 4,000 migrants have fled the camp of Moria,” a police source said, attributing the exodus to fires that rapidly swept through the facility because of high winds."

Tsipras: If world fails to tackle migration issue repercussions will be felt everywhere - Athens News Agency

"We either succeed in managing it collectively, comprehensively and on the basis of our principles or we fail...

The Greek people, despite facing a deep economic crisis, have daily given one reply for the past year and a half: 'Yes, it is our duty'," Tsipras added.

Greece faced this challenge as 1.2 million migrants and refugees passed through the country and again when its northern borders were closed through unilateral actions, he pointed out."

September 19, 2016

Greece's old reliable: tourism boom helps soothe battered economy - UK Guardian

“This is a hospitable country,” he said in a rare interview with a foreign TV channel. “Hopefully you can come back next summer. After all, the Greek people are always appreciative of those who care about them.”

Like Greek politicians across the board, Pavlopoulos did not miss the chance to advertise his homeland abroad. It is easy to see why. Tourism has become the mainstay of an economy not only locked in a perpetual fiscal vice – the price of being bailed out to the tune of more than €300bn – but languishing in the longest running recession since the second world war."

Athens aims to finish prior actions, pave way for debt talks - eKathimerini

"Having failed to make significant progress with the range of reform goals over the summer, Athens now faces a last-minute rush to conclude the legislation needed before the end of the month.

...Athens aims to have all the legislation relating to the pending reforms passed through Parliament in the next 10 days so that the Euro Working Group can give the green light for the disbursement of the 2.8-billion-euro bailout installment when it meets on September 29."

A True Philhellene in Every Sense of the Word, U.S. Ambassador to Greece David Pearce Departs Athens - PappasPost

"Ambassador Pearce traveled to almost every region of the country and, from Lesvos to Crete, from Rhodes to Thrace, from Kalamata to Volos, and everywhere in between, he saw the generosity of Greek spirit – filoxenia and filotimo.

...In a statement on their Facebook page, the U.S. Embassy in Athens said “We won’t say “goodbye” to Ambassador Pearce, as he is not fond of goodbyes! Instead, we’ll look forward to your next visit to Greece. Your absence will be deeply felt, here at the Embassy in Athens and in the Foreign Service community as a whole. We wish you all the best in your retirement and thank you for your tremendous service.”

September 16, 2016

EU and IMF still at odds with Greece over privatization fund head - Reuters

"European Union and International Monetary Fund mission chiefs began assessing on Monday Greece's progress on reforms pending for its first bailout review. Athens initially hoped a deal would be reached this week on all pending issues.

Greece wants to conclude the assessment swiftly to get another 2.8 billion euros in bailout loans and start a second progress review next month, which includes unpopular labor reforms. It hopes that passing the second review will help it regain market confidence."

Greece Needs to Be Honest About the Numbers - Harvard Business Review

"Given his former position, you would imagine that Georgiou’s crime would involve falsifying national economic data in order to cover up tax shenanigans or to fool the markets into thinking that the Greek economy was healthier than it was.

.... In a classic confusion of cause and effect, the prosecutors are claiming that Georgiou’s un-sugarcoated report caused financial and social damage."

In nearly every domain — from healthcare to education and the environment — this government seems to avoid applying credible metrics to honestly assess the effectiveness of its policies and initiatives.

Greece Raids Home Of Central Bank Head - Zerohedge

"The searches were part of a probe conducted by the Financial Police in connection to the alleged mismanagement of more than 1 million euros in state funding by the Hellenic Center for Disease Control and Prevention, KEELPNO. The investigation related to funds that KEELPNO allegedly received through a company owned by Nikolopoulou as well as complaints regarding the disappearance of documents tied to the case.

According to the WSJ, the raid was part of a continuing investigation into business Stournaras' wife has done with a state entity, officials said, in a probe that may heighten tension between the top bank official and the left-wing government."

Greece's 118-year Old Bookstore CLoses due to Debt Crisis - Pune Mirror

"The largest bookstore in Greece with 118 years of history, Eleftheroudakis, will be closed on September 30 due to the seven-year debt crisis.

...The last store's manager Sofia Eleftheroudakis explained that the capital controls introduced in Greece last year was the last severe blow to the family business, as well as to several other enterprises in the country.

Eleftheroudakis had a 24 million euros turnover in 2008 and about half a million last year, according to the family. The number of employees was gradually reduced from 130 to ten in the same period."

Amazon 2016 Lonely Planet Guide Greece


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