Greece and the economic crisis

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."

September 13, 2016

EU finance ministers to consider withholding Greece aid - Magseries

"The 27 European Union leaders - the entire bloc, except Britain - will gather on September 16 to discuss the fallout from the British vote in June to quit the EU. A showdown is expected in Bratislava, with the Visegrad four already holding their own meeting in June to present a united front."

Hundreds of firefighters battle wildfires in Greece - Global News

"Nearly 300 firefighters, alongside volunteers and soldiers, battled wildfires across the northern Greek Island of Thassos on Monday."

Greece wants Russia to invest in its coal industry - RT News

"Athens has offered Russia’s Gazprom the opportunity to invest up to $900 million in the country’s coal industry, business daily Kommersant reports, citing its sources.

... The project proposed by Greece could settle a thirty-year dispute over compensation related to Athens’ incomplete execution of an intergovernmental agreement signed in 1987 with the Soviet Union on gas deliveries."

Why Greece’s Problems Matter for Gold - MondayMorn

"...Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras charged into power two years ago. He promised an €11.5 billion economic stimulus package. The stimulus bundle included tax breaks, along with increases in pensions, the minimum wage and the tax-free threshold.

But Tsipras delivered nothing he promised. And so another debt standoff seems inevitable.

The debt load, standing at 176% of GDP, is simply unsustainable."

September 12, 2016

Bailout inspectors back in Greece as reforms delayed - Fox

"Representatives from the International Monetary Fund, the European Central Bank and European Commission were due for talks starting Monday with government officials. The delayed reforms include measures to accelerate a privatization program, energy sector liberalization and bank governance."

Greece blames creditors over economy’s inability to recover - RT

"We are closer than ever before to a solution of this crisis. What is delaying the effort of regaining the trust of the markets is the constant disagreement between the European institutions and the IMF," Tsipras said during a news conference at the Thessaloniki International Fair.

Greece's lenders have "failed miserably" in their policies aimed at rescuing the Greek economy, Syriza party economist Marica Frangakis told CNBC.

Tsipras’ and Frangakis' comments follow the eurozone finance ministers’ meeting on Friday. The Eurogroup want Greece to act faster on its economic reforms in order to get rescue loans from the EU."

September 11, 2016

Forgotten inside Greece’s notorious camp for child refugees - UK Guardian

"...In Athens – on the frontline of Europe’s worst refugee crisis since the second world war – it is a holding pen for innocents whose conditions, in the words of a scathing report issued by Human Rights Watch on Friday, is not only deplorable but should never exist. Greek authorities call it a “special place for the accommodation of foreigners”, part of a chain of closed facilities available to some of the 3,464 migrant children registered nationwide. As a measure of last resort, minors, they say, are placed in such institutions for lack of viable alternatives and for their own protection.

Under the watchful gaze of the guards, their eyes darting this way and that, the detainees – all boys from countries that, on our visit, include Algeria, Syria, Tunisia, Pakistan and Iraq – prefer to watch their words. This is not where any of them intended to be."

Greece says EU-IMF rift stalling Greek debt solution - Channel News Asia

"We are closer than ever before to a solution to this crisis. What is delaying the effort of regaining the trust of the markets is the constant disagreement between the European institutions and the IMF," Tsipras said during a press conference at the Thessaloniki International Fair.

The Washington-based IMF, which was key to Greece's three bailouts, has said it won't give a penny to the latest one until it sees a concrete plan from the Europeans to cut substantially Greece's massive debt burden."

Greece presses creditors for better debt repayment terms - Fox News

"Alexis Tsipras told reporters Sunday that Greece "has the right for a fair debt adjustment" after years of punishing spending and income cuts. He said the country "cannot wait much longer."

Greece's creditors have said they are prepared to discuss better repayment terms for the country's debt, which exceeds 175 percent of annual economic output."

Tsipras Seeks to Revive his Political Fortunes on Economic Promises - WSJ

...Europe’s most electorally successful populist has become nearly as unpopular as the Greek political establishment he ousted almost two years ago. A recent survey showed only 19% of Greeks view him favorably and 85% are dissatisfied with his government.

Such low approval ratings—familiar to Europe’s least-popular establishment politicians, such as French President François Hollande—reflect how the star of the eurozone’s antiausterity movement has come down to earth.

Because of its deep economic crisis, Greece was ahead of the rest of Europe in the revolt against mainstream centrist parties. Elsewhere, antiestablishment populists of the anticapitalist left and the nationalist right are now on the rise. In Greece, they have been partners in government since early 2015, in a coalition led by Mr. Tsipras’s left-wing Syriza party, and their appeal is on the wane."

September 9, 2016

Greece rejects return of EU rule on reverse migration flow - Fox News

"The Greek government is adamantly opposing the revival of a European Union rule that would allow the forcible return to its territory of asylum-seekers who entered the bloc via Greece — a path followed by more than a million people in the past two years.

...Kyritsis, the government official, said Greece considers the Dublin rule to be "practically dead" because it does not address current migratory pressures and should be drastically overhauled. He added that calls for its reintroduction are to a degree linked with domestic political concerns in Germany...

Kyritsis said the migrant relocation deal ought to have seen 33,000 people transferred to other EU countries from Greece so far. Instead, only 3,000 have made the journey."

EU finance ministers to consider withholding Greece aid - Miami Herald

"While Greece has made some progress in reshaping its economy, the bailout loans are saddling it with a huge amount of debt that many experts say it has no real prospect of repaying. The national debt is set to peak this year at a whopping 182.8 percent of gross domestic product, according to European Commission estimates.

... With the EU economy struggling with anemic growth, the European Central Bank urged governments in the 19-country euro currency union Thursday to do more to improve economic fundamentals."

Eurozone ministers: Greece must act faster on reforms - UK Guardian

"Tsipras wants a joint stance on the need to ease fiscal rules with Europe’s other six Mediterranean countries – Spain’s acting PM, Mario Rajoy, was invited but is too busy trying to form a government at home – ahead of the EU summit on 16 September (without Britain) in Bratislava.

Tsipras has long argued that the fiscal straitjacket favoured by Germany will never allow weak economies such as Greece’s to recover, and said in an interview with Le Monde on Thursday that the EU stability pact – whose budget deficit limits have already been tested by France, Italy, Spain and Portugal, “is not the word of God”.

September 8, 2016

Greece's Tsipras says debt relief needed for growth - Reuters

"Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras warned euro zone leaders on Thursday his country would struggle to return to sustainable growth without a debt-relief deal.

Athens, facing a second bailout review entailing an unpopular loosening of labor laws in the autumn, is keen to show that painful tax rises and pension cuts as part of its 86 billion-euro bailout deal last year will bear fruit.

In an interview with French newspaper Le Monde, Tsipras said he expected the recession-stricken Greek economy to return to growth in 2016 and expand by 2.7 percent next year but that the lack of debt relief acted as a brake on the recovery."

Greece flash floods leave at least three dead - BBC

"The worst casualties were in and around the south-western city of Kalamata, where a disabled woman aged 63 and a man of 80 died in their basement homes. A 90 year-old was also found dead."

September 7, 2016

Greece fined €10m for breaking EU waste rules - BBC

The cash-strapped Greek government has been ordered by the European Court to pay €10m (£8.4m; $11m) and another €30,000 per day for not following rules on disposing of rubbish.

As much as 80% of waste ends up at Greek landfill sites, according to a 2010 report.

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) said the government had not complied with several deadlines to improve."

Syriza Strains Greece’s Credibility - WSJ

"...when one of Mr. Georgiou’s underlings accused him in 2011 of artificially inflating the deficit to help creditors impose draconian austerity measures on Greece, a certain Greek worldview was aroused. It was a charge tailor-made for those who believed the bailouts had been the cause of Greece’s economic troubles, and not the other way around. Prosecutors who had been remarkably lax about investigating statistical skullduggery prior to 2010 jumped at the case, never mind that Mr. Georgiou was appointed a full three months after Greece’s bailout had been signed.

...If Greece’s government seems keen to bury the country’s precrisis sins in a story of statistical malfeasance, it is determined to elevate the regulation of the national broadcasting sector into a purge of the “triangle of corruption” linking politicians, media barons and bankers."

Serious flooding in Evrotas River valley and Messinia as heavy rains sweep Greece - AMNA

"A state of emergency was declared in areas of Thessaloniki and the Peloponnese on Wednesday, in the wake of extensive flooding caused by torrential rains in the last two days.

A meeting attended by a government delegation in Kalamata, in Messinia, decided to implement the same set of relief measures used in the wake of disasters at Megalopolis two months earlier and on the island of Skopelos."

September 6, 2016

Handelsblatt: Greece faces standoff over bailout funds - Capital GR

"The gridlock report came after the head of the ESM said at the weekend that Greece should be able to secure at least short-term debt relief measures but only if it began implementing the remaining reforms."

Greece won’t get EU rescue loans after breaking reform promise - Panarmenian

"The European Union will not release a new bailout tranche to Greece in September, EU diplomats said, RT reports citing the German daily Handelsblatt Global.

Athens has reportedly managed to implement only two out of 15 reforms previously agreed with its international creditors. Moreover, the country has slowed down the privatization process of its public assets."

Revenue hole appears in August - Ta Nea

"The overall total net revenues in August amounted to 3.804 mil. Euro, against a target of 3.869 mil... Compared with August 2015 (net income of 3,829 million. Euro) is a 25 mil. Euro.

...The shortfall of 95 mil. Euro and 2.3% against the target because the target included the first installment of ENFIA 2016, estimated at EUR 738 million"

Greece stocks lower at close of trade; Athens General-Composite down 0.04% - Investing

"The best performers of the session on the Athens General-Composite were Flexopack SA (AT:FLXr), which rose 8.33% or 0.2000 points to trade at 2.6000 at the close. Meanwhile, Select Textile (AT:EPIr) added 7.75% or 0.010 points to end at 0.139 and Papoutsanis (AT:PSALr) was up 7.34% or 0.008 points to 0.117 in late trade. "

Tolerance levels are diminishing- eKathimerini

"The success of the xenophobic and far-right Alliance for Democracy party in Sunday’s election for the state legislature in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania in east Germany is hardly good news to German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the Christian Democrats, nor to Europe and the Greek government. Merkel suffered a mighty defeat in her own constituency, as a reaction, primarily, to her migration policy; Europe is witnessing yet another Le Pen-style party making its presence felt within Germany; while Athens ought to be feeling even greater insecurity now, following clear indications that the tolerance levels of its creditors are dropping considerably.

...There are those estimating that a bailout subtranche of 2.8 billion euros, which is still pending following the first review of the Greek program, will not be dispersed if the Greek side does not implement a series of much-delayed prior actions. "

Greece confirms rise in UK visitors - Miniplanet

"Greece saw a 13% jump in the number of UK visitors in the first six months of this year.

In total, 928,000 travelled from the UK to Greece from January to June, according to latest figures from the Bank of Greece. "

'Prisoners of Europe': the everyday humiliation of refugees stuck in Greece - UK Guardian

"Softex sits in an industrial wasteland on the northern fringes of Thessaloniki, Greece’s second city. Refugees have been here since the border shut in May, forcing the cash-strapped Greek authorities to hastily house people in whatever spaces they could find. Several hundred have now smuggled their way north, but about a thousand are still left. Most of them live in tents inside the gloomy warehouse. The rest sleep outside, a few hundred metres from a grim row of burnt-out trains and factory chimneys. "

There’s no light at the end of the tunnel for Greece - The Duran

"A year later and all talk of a haircut has gone. The economic situation, which looked grim in August 2015, in August 2016 if possible looked even grimmer. In the part of Athens where I stayed – the wealthy suburb of Kolonaki – more shops and businesses had closed, more shop and business premises were empty, none of the shop and business premises that I saw empty a year before appeared to have been relet or sold and all of them were still empty, and there were visibly even more beggars around.

Alarmingly many of these beggars seemed to be either high or low on various drugs, with a drugs scene proliferating and becoming increasingly and publicly visible.

The cause of the economic distress was not difficult to see. The country is being strangled by taxes...

...The result has been to increase exponentially the “under-the-counter” cash economy beyond anything which had existed before – which is saying something – with honest hardworking middle class people now forced against their will to engage in a practice they abhor."

September 5, 2016

EU will not release more bailout money for Greece this month - Reuters

"The euro zone will not release additional bailout money for Greece at a meeting in Bratislava this month, Germany's Handelsblatt Global reported on Sunday, citing European Union diplomats.

The online edition of the German business daily quoted the diplomats as saying that Athens had only implemented two of 15 political reforms that are conditions for the bailout money. Above all, they said, Greece had been slow to privatize state assets.

...Handelsblatt Global said the Eurogroup had approved a tranche of 10.3 billion euros for Greece in May from the overall package. An initial 7.5 billion euros of that sum had been transferred to Athens with the rest scheduled to arrive in the fall."

September 4, 2016

Greece's refugee crisis through a different lens - CNET

"While many locals were happy to talk to us about the refugee crisis, others wanted us to leave. We were even, quite literally, chased out of a neighborhood in Athens by anarchists who don't like reporters. Another time, two Greece police officers temporarily took our identification cards and ushered us away from the Macedonian border, where we went to see the shuttered Idomeni refugee camp.

Yet, the memories that stick with me are those of the refugees we met throughout Greece, who were welcoming and eager to tell their stories. They wanted me to know the dangers that forced them to flee their homes and the difficulties they face in Greece."

Germany considering sending migrants back to Greece as Berlin can’t handle burden alone - RT

"Germany has not sent migrants back to Greece since 2011 due to deficiencies in the Greek asylum processing system and the fact that the country is struggling to cope with the number of refugees already in Greece. There are currently 50,000 migrants in Greece who are waiting to be sent on to other EU countries.

More than one million refugees moved to Germany in 2015 under Chancellor Angela Merkel’s open doors policy. The number of migrants reaching Germany in 2016 has been stemmed, largely due to a number of countries in the south of Europe sealing their borders."

The Fourth Great Crisis: Greece Summer of 2016- Hellenic News

"The first crisis was the Smyrna catastrophe of 1922...

The second crisis was that of World War II and the civil war that was its aftermath...

The third crisis was that of the Junta...

For forty years, Greece enjoyed relative stability under a restored democracy.

To understand the Fourth Crisis, one must look at the next handoff of Great Power interest, which occurred with fall of the Soviet Union. With no Superpower in Eastern Europe to contend with, a strategic void appeared in the Balkans and the Eastern Mediterranean. That void was entered, if not filled, by two hitherto cautious powers, Germany and the Vatican.

It suffices only to say what the general result has been for those affected by Germany’s hegemony over the Continent. Acting as its Scrooge-like creditor instead of us as a major culpable participant in the financial collapse, it has ensured its own solvency at the cost of basic living standards for tens of millions...

Alexis Tsipras isn’t Greece’s problem, however. The problem is the lack of an alternative. While presumably some of them might be less clownish, none of the current political leaders on offer represents anything other than a continuation of the present disaster."

Increase in attacks by anti-establishment groups a growing concern - eKathimerini

"The almost daily attacks launched by self-styled anarchists against law enforcement units stationed outside the National Technical University of Athens and in the Exarchia district have placed the Greek police on full alert, bracing for the possibility of an incident-filled fall – starting with demonstrations being planned in Thessaloniki on the occasion of the International Trade Fair of Thessaloniki.

...critics describe as the Citizens’ Protection Ministry’s soft-handed approach to anti-establishment groups, which has essentially sapped the will of law enforcement decision-makers who appear reluctant to address the issue head-on."

Plan to replace ENFIA with unified VAT property tax in the pipelines - Protothema

"According to a report by newspaper ‘Imerisia’, the Greek government plans to replace the common property tax (ENFIA) with a hiked VAT property tax. The newspaper reveals that the Finance Ministry is considering scrapping the current ENFIA property tax and introducing a unified propriety tax imposed on all properties both registered and unregistered."

Greece named best travel destination 2016: Conde Nast Traveller UK - MSN

"Readers of Condé Nast Traveller UK magazine have voted and named Greece the best country in the world in the 2016 edition of the Readers' Travel Awards.

The ongoing migrant and economic crises in Greece have done little to deter visitors from descending on the Mediterranean paradise, with tourists still enamored by the promise of sun-soaked islands and postcard-perfect settings."

September 2, 2016

Greece Sees Slight Uptick In Refugee Arrivals In August - Huffington Post

"New figures released this week by the International Organization for Migration show a slight uptick in the number of migrants and refugees arriving on Greek shores in August, after a steep overall decline in the wake of an agreement between Turkey and the European Union aimed at containing migrant and refugee flow."

More Coverage:

Refugees trying to reach Greece via Aegean on the rise - World Bulletin

SKAI, Kalogritsas, Ant1 TV and Marinakis’ “Alter Ego” won the four nationwide TV licences - Capital GR

"Skai TV won the first license, allowing it to stay on air. "We were not contesting a license, we came to negotiate ransom," Costas Kimbouropoulos, Skai΄s representative, said.

Antenna TV and two new entrants also won a license. The bidders were on lockdown at the Press Ministry for more than three days, mobiles phones were banned to ensure no leaks.

The starting price of the licenses was set at 3 million euros ..."

Greece cuts TV channels from eight to four in controversial licence auction - UK Guardian

"The Greek government has netted almost €250m (£210m) from a controversial broadcast licence auction that will see the number of national channels in the country cut from eight to four.

Prime minister Alexis Tsipras’s left-led government claimed the auction would crack down on corruption in the media sector and enable better regulation.

But critics say the move is merely a ploy to replace established TV barons – who have opposed Tspiras’s Syriza party in the past – with others more to his liking."

More Coverage:

Greece Raises Around $275 Million From TV License Auction - WSJ

Greece to auction 1BN Euro of 3-month T-bills on Sept 7 - Business Recorder

"In a rollover, T-bill holders renew their positions instead of getting paid on the maturing paper they hold. "

New stamp series honors prominent diaspora Greeks - eKathimerini

"The Greek postal service, ELTA, on Thursday unveiled a new series of stamps depicting the portraits of prominent diaspora Greeks during an event at the Acropolis Museum. "

September 1, 2016

Gov’t mulls cutting pensions of self-employed to make up for debt - eKathimerini

"The government is considering freezing the outstanding social security contributions of those with debts to the fund of the self-employed (OAEE) that they are unable to pay and, when they retire, reducing their pensions in proportion to the amount of their debt. The aim is to boost revenues and save the fund, which is on the brink of collapse.

The state of OAEE is worrying the government more than anything else in social security, as of the fund’s 701,148 insured workers, 538,087 are facing problems making their payments: A total of 296,720 workers have debts to the fund and another 241,367 have temporarily stopped their membership as a result of no longer being self-employed; but the latter group still owe contributions to OAEE. Expired debts total almost 12 billion euros."

Stranded migrants stage protests outside camps - beaumontenterprise

"Around 500 migrants chanting "open the borders" gathered Thursday in Greece's second largest city, Thessaloniki.

"I've been here for six months and we are still trapped here. People reaching Italy can cross borders. But we are not allowed to, I don't understand why," said Abdo Rjab, a 21-year-old Syrian from the Islamic State-held city of Raqqa."

Amazon 2016 Lonely Planet Guide Greece


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