Greece and the economic crisis

July 27, 2016

Turkish defectors to Greece seek time to prepare asylum case - Reuters

"Greek authorities on Wednesday postponed hearings for eight Turkish soldiers who sought asylum after they fled Turkey following an abortive coup attempt, a case that has underscored lingering tensions between the two NATO allies.

...Last week, the men were handed a two-month suspended jail sentence on charges of entering Greece illegally. Nonetheless, they remain in 'administrative' custody."


UK joins Greece at bottom of wage growth league - UK Guardian

"Using data from the OECD’s recent employment outlook, the TUC found that over the same 2007-2015 period, real wages grew in Poland by 23%, in Germany by 14%, and in France by 11%. Across the OECD, real wages increased by an average of 6.7%.

The TUC found that between 2007 and 2015 in the UK, real wages – income from work adjusted for inflation – fell by 10.4%. That drop was equalled only by Greece in a list of 29 countries in the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)."


Fire on Chios under control -Tovima.Gr

"The major fire that broke out on the islands of Chios early on Monday morning appears to be under control, with the Fire Brigade having managed to contain the major fronts.

The president of the local gum mastic growers association Giorgos Toumpos told To Vima that producers have suffered many losses, with nearly all mastic trees in the villages of Elata and Vessa having gone up in flames."


Downward Spirol in Greece - Greek Reporter

"The General Registry of Commerce figures point to the closure of 16,944 businesses in the first six months of 2016, added to the 24,846 that closed shop in 2015.

Data released by the General Secretariat of Public Revenue showed that there were 1.25 billion euros worth of unpaid taxes in Greece in May. Overdue debt is set to explode to 88.88 billion euros, making up for half of the country’s GDP — up from 30 billion euros at the end of 2009."


Greece’s Hard Left Government Moves To Reduce Influence Of Church -Brietbart

“I think establishing religious neutrality of the state is a mature demand, maintaining for historical and practical reasons the role of Orthodoxy as the prevailing religion, Tsipras said.

Under the proposals, the president – now a ceremonial role – would be elected in a national vote if there were a lack of consensus among members of parliament, who currently pick the head of state."


The Strange, Sweet Odyssey of Princess Tatiana of Greece - Vogue

"In 2013, after almost a half-century in exile in London, Constantine II, the deposed king of Greece, quietly moved back to Athens to live “as a commoner” while his former kingdom teetered on the brink of economic catastrophe. Despite the awkward timing, Prince Nikolaos, his devoted second son, relished the moment. He was raised in Britain but, fiercely proud of his family and heritage, had always dreamed of living in Greece. It was a dream that his new wife, Princess Tatiana, was still getting used to.

.... “You can say that this country is chaotic and crazy, but I managed to find my way here. The things that used to bother me don’t bother me any more: the noise, the pollution downtown, the traffic. I don’t know how to explain it, but I really started to love it all,” she says. “If you look at it one way, all you see is disaster, depression, turmoil. But look at Greece another way and you see rebuilding, innovation, creativity, ingenuity. Slowly, you start to find a little bit of order coming out of the chaos.”


Government eyes direct concessions of public contracts - eKathimerini

"The government is bringing to Parliament a 500-page bill in the middle of the summer lull that was expected last year and which goes one step forward and two steps back: Although its adapts Greek legislation to the most recent European directives on public contracts, it cancels to a great extent the effort of bringing the biggest possible transparency and time-and money-saving to state procurements."


Greece Moves Toward Approving First Official Mosque - WSJ

"Athens is one of the few capital cities in the European Union that has no purpose-built mosque, despite being home to an estimated 200,000 Muslims, according to a senior government official.

Until now, Muslims have worshiped in unofficial locations such as private homes, basements, and abandoned warehouses. Greek government officials estimate there are 70 to 80 unauthorized mosques in Athens and the surrounding region. Four such sites have been given a license, but none is a purpose-built mosque. All places of religious worship need a permit in Greece."


Greece - Balance of Trade - Tradingeconomics

Greece

"Greece reports regular trade deficits due to high volume of imports. Main imports are mineral fuels (34 percent of the total imports); machinery and transport equipment (14 percent) and chemicals (13 percent). In recent years, the biggest trade deficits were recorded with Russia, Germany, China, Italy and France. Greece records trade surpluses with Turkey, Cyprus, United States, Algeria and United Arab Emirates."


July 26, 2016

Greece loosens capital controls to win back deposits - Financial Times

"Lifting the controls will pose a critical test of confidence in the leftwing Syriza-led government of Alexis Tsipras, the prime minister. Specifically, it will show whether Greeks now feel safe holding their cash in the country’s banks.

Mr Tsipras’s government last month successfully completed the first review of an €86bn bailout that ultimately eased last year’s panic. Still, it faces further tough negotiations with international creditors on structural reforms in September."


Greece eyes constitution overhaul, more space between Orthodox Church and state - Reuters

"Under the proposals, the president – now a ceremonial role – would be elected in a national vote if there were a lack of consensus among members of parliament, who currently pick the head of state.

There could also be a “moderate” increase in the powers of the country’s president on issues such as having the right to refer legislation to experts for legal ruling, Tsipras said.

Lawmakers would be restricted to two consecutive terms or eight years in office, a new court would be formed to rule on the legality of legislation, and there would be the conditional abolition of parliamentary immunity."


Greece's P-3B Orion Modernization and Upgrade Program - ASD

"...This contract provides for the reactivation of one Hellenic Navy P-3B aircraft and the procurement of software and hardware kits for the upgrade/modernization for a total of four Hellenic Navy P-3B aircraft. The Mid-Life Upgrade, or MLU, kits will provide an extension of service life by 15,000 flight hours. In addition, this contract provides for phased depot maintenance; a Greece indigenous mission integration and management system; new avionics; and other ancillary hardware and services.

“The selection of P-3B and its upgrade is the most advantageous solution for the country. With the criterion of fulfilling the operational requirements of the Hellenic Navy, the P-3 with the MLU program through the government agreement of Greece and the USA offers the optimal combination of cost-effectiveness,” said Admiral Evangelos Apostolakis, chief of the Hellenic National Defense General Staff.


Be half an hour late in Greece but bang on time in Japan: How different nations across the globe value punctuality revealed - Daily Mail UK

"...in Greece punctuality is not considered that important but foreigners are still expected to turn up on time for meetings. Socially you should be at least 30 minutes late.

Thanks to its industrial past, in Germany you are expected to arrive at least 10 minutes early for any scheduled meeting.

In China it is not considered late if you arrive within 10 minutes of the agreed time, but in Japan, if a train arrives more than one minute after it is scheduled to, it is considered late."


Tsipras: Greece needs a new constitution 'by the people and for the people' - Ethnos

"The role of citizens was not only to indirectly approve or reject the contents of a revision through their vote but to "be involved in the formulating the proposals," he said.

"The old elite will once again seek to confine the process of revising the Constition within the walls of Parliament, to a discussion between experts," Tsipras noted, adding that this fear of opening the discussion to society was characteristic of an 'aristocratic view' about who had the right to express an opinion, to agree or disagree."


ND: We will not be part of Tsipras’s charade on Constitutional reforms - Protothema

"...We will respond responsibly when Mr. Tsipras commence the constitutional reform procedures in the Greek Parliament’, the statement read.

The statement continues by stressing that if Tsipras was really interested in a new Constitution for a new Greece he would accept the proposal tabled by Mr. Mitsotakis for reaching consent for reforms on as many Constitutional articles as possible, this enabling the Greek people to decide with their votes in an election on the content of the necessary reforms."


July 25, 2016

Greece may win over tourists shunning Turkey, but could also feel impact - Reuters

"Turkey's share of last-minute arrivals will shrink and it will probably suffer cancellations," Andreas Andreadis, head of Greek tourism businesses association SETE, told Reuters. "Greece will gain a share, even if it is a small one."

But Andreadis said he could not exclude a spillover effect from Turkey which could impact overall arrivals.

"We don't like the fact that Turkey is destabilised, it could also affect Greece. We are not happy about this," he said."


Why Greece is Fighting the World About Its Strained Yogurt - Heatstreet

"...Dairy brings up a surprising number of labeling issues, and over the past few years, “Greek” yogurt has easily been one of the most contested. In April 2013, a Chicago resident sued General Mills for producing Greek yogurt that wasn’t in fact “Greek”; in June 2014, Chobani was hit with a similar suit. Though Greek yogurt isn’t protected with a designation of origin (PDO), the regulation that doesn’t allow makers to label their product as something produced in a specific region unless it’s actually produced there (ie. only sparkling wine produced in Champagne can be labelled as Champagne), Greeks and some Greek yogurt purists aren’t about to let any other country claim the islands’ yogurt and their own."


EU concerned about Turkey's path to dictatorship - Capital GR

"A state of emergency has been declared and now parts of the European convention on human rights are being suspended. Most EU states don΄t want conflict with Ankara but are concerned about its path to dictatorship. Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz this week summoned the Turkish ambassador to his office in order to get his view of developments in Turkey. Kurz said his government had information that showed recent pro-Erdogan protests in Vienna had their origins in Turkey. In an interview with the German magazine "Spiegel", he said that Europe could not afford to appear weak by clinging to the refugee deal with Turkey "at all costs." Should the deal fall apart, he added, the EU would have to protect its borders on its own. Belgium, too, has summoned the Turkish ambassador after he accused a Flemish parliamentarian of being involved in last week΄s failed coup."


Greek PM proposes constitutional change for 'direct democracy' - France24

"It is time to set aside fear of the people's judgment... even if the people are not infallible," Tsipras said in a televised speech.

The people should be allowed to elect the nation's president -- who is currently chosen by parliament -- if efforts by lawmakers fail, as they did last year.

...Tsipras can currently rely on at least 153 deputies to approve his proposals, but finding another 180 to confirm the changes, up to three years from now, will not be easy."


July 24, 2016

8 Turks who fled to Greece are a diplomatic 'hot potato'- Fox News

"...complicating matters are frequent comments by Turkish officials, including Erdogan himself, about reinstating the death penalty. If such talk gathers pace, or if death penalty legislation is introduced in Turkey's parliament, Greece or any other European Union member would struggle to extradite someone to a country where they might be executed.

"The key question will be the death penalty. That's a red line not just for Greece but for the whole European Union," said Dokos.

The widespread purges in Turkey, which in a week have led to about 10,000 people being arrested and about 50,000 others being fired or suspended from their jobs, has fueled the argument that the eight would not face a fair trial at home."


Turkey, Greece and the West - ekathimerini

"Greece has the opportunity to become an important player in the Eastern Mediterranean. Always thinking in practical and geopolitical terms, the Americans are not hiding their intention to broaden their strategic collaboration with Greece. The Europeans, who see the need for immediate assistance but are not always that practical, took a long time to realize the geopolitical dimensions of Greece’s case. Ties with Israel and Egypt, meanwhile, have been consolidated and everyone is talking about a strategic triangle.

The danger now is a possible knee-jerk reaction from Ankara in the Aegean or Thrace. It would be wise for those in charge and know-it-all experts to stop crying wolf all the time because if something serious does happen we may not even realize it. What is needed right now is good sense and caution. Although we all hope that there are no signs of aggression from our neighbor, we also hope that in such an eventuality Europe and the US would react swiftly, rationally and successfully."


Greece urges Turkey to show restraint on death penalty - Reuters

"The winners of the internal conflict in Turkey must show magnanimity towards the defeated, (show) self-restraint and not reinstate the death penalty," Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias told Realnews newspaper in an interview released ahead of Sunday's publication.

Kotzias said the EU hailed the defeat of the coup and wants a democratic Turkey that respects the interests and needs of all religious, social and ethnic groups. "We don't want a Turkey of revenge, of break-up and destabilisation," he told Realnews."


Greece Fears Wave of Political Asylum Seekers from Turkey - Greek Reporter

"Analysts predict the possibility of a spillover of Turks entering Greece who are considered political opponents of Erdogan.

...Athens has to strike a delicate balance between Turkish demands and international laws on human rights. Turkish authorities have hinted that bilateral relations might go sour if Athens does not heed to the extradition demand."


EU to fine Greece for saving ship builders - UK Express

"The row has erupted because Greek ministers used taxpayers money to save the Hellenic Shipyards company in 2008, guaranteeing the jobs of more than a thousand workers.

...Following a series of cases before the European Court of Justice the Commission is now hammering home the judgements and demanding a massive financial penalty.

Under the terms they are seeking Greece will be required to pay 34,974 euros to Brussels every day until it has recouped all of the 250 million euros it used to bail out Hellenic Shipyards."


Mortgages issued by Greek banks declined 99 percent in past decade - eKathimerini

"...According to data compiled by Kathimerini, the new loans issued in H1 came to 75 million euros in mortgage credit across the banking system and to 150 million in consumer credit. This sum constitutes a historic low for the last few decades at least.

Comparisons with a decade ago are staggering: The number of mortgages issued in January-June 2016 – also affected by the lawyers’ strike – came to just 800, against about 80,000 in the same period in 2006."


July 23, 2016

Greece eases capital controls more as confidence in banks returns -Reuters

"Greece approved a further relaxation of its capital restrictions on Friday as it makes headway on bailout-mandated reforms and confidence in its banking system returns.

...For money transferred from foreign bank accounts to existing ones in Greece from Friday the withdrawal limit will be raised to 30 percent of the amount transferred from the previous 10 percent."


Greece After Turkey’s Coup - HuffPost

"... The wrath of the victors is such that there have been reports that deceased coup participants have even been denied Islamic burial rites.

...Turkey’s relations with the United States might become strained. Demands for the extradition of the cleric Fethullah Gülen’s and wild statements implying that America might have been complicit in the coup will certainly not be conducive to stellar bilateral relations.

...Greece now has a neighbor that is more divided, isolated and weak. The last thing that Athens should do is provide an excuse to Ankara to turn its domestic challenges into a dispute with Greece. There are of course eight coup plotters who have requested from Greece political asylum. The only way to deal with them is to strictly follow a rule of law approach devoid of political interventions, as befits a European country.

...A new reality is now crystallizing in the Eastern Mediterranean. Greece, Cyprus (and Israel) are the last bastions of the West as we understand it."


To Rebrand Itself, Greece Digs Deep Into Its Cultural DNA - NPR

"The show, which opened in June and runs through early October, is called "The Greeks: Agamemnon to Alexander the Great." It's a survey of 5,000 years of Greek art and artifacts. Most of the items have never left their homeland before. This stop in Washington [National Geographic Museum] is the last on a tour that also included the Field Museum and two stops in Canada: at the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau, near Ottowa, and the Pointe-à-Callière Montréal Archeology and History Complex in Montreal.

...We're standing by a case that contains a finely wrought wreath made of dozens of tiny, very delicate and detailed flowers and myrtle leaves, cut from thin sheets of gold. It was thought to be made for Queen Meda, one of Alexander the Great's stepmothers.

"When we were putting this in the case," he says, "it glimmered and jiggled with every slight breeze. It's absolutely the most amazing piece of work I've ever seen."


July 22, 2016

Greece to lower voting age, adopt proportional system - FoxNews

"In a vote ending early Friday, lawmakers scrapped election law provisions that handed the winning party a generous 50-seat bonus in the 300-member parliament. But the country's left-wing government failed to win a supermajority of votes required for the changes to have immediate effect — meaning the changes will be introduced after the next general election."


Mitsotakis: Proposed election law will make forming a government impossible - Capital GR

"Strongly criticising the government΄s proposals for amending election law, main opposition New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Thursday said they would lead to an inability to form a government, while he accused the government of "petty political manoeuvring" and "political amoralism".

"You are heading toward a crushing defeat in the next elections and that is why you want to deprive ND of power," Mitsotakis said, as the debate before the plenum on the draft election law neared its close, AMNA reported.

"They want ungovernability and are playing games with the institutions because they know that whenever elections are held they will be roundly defeated. They are trying to keep access to power even from a minority position," he added."


'We are determined to build a future free from the baggage of the past,' Tsipras tells Parliament - AMNA

"The prime minister defended proposals for lowering the voting age to 17, noting that this would give young people an incentive not to give in to depoliticisation but take their lives in their own hands.

... Replying to Mitsotakis, meanwhile, Tsipras wondered how he was so sure he would find the 200 votes needed to abolish the new election law, once he was in power. "Will you work with Golden Dawn?" the prime minister asked.

...It was time to realise that a political cycle that began in 1974, with a two-party system, was ending, with Greece and Europe entering a new period, Tsipras said."


US Treasury chief backs Greece debt relief - Seattle P.I.

"Speaking in Athens after talks with Greek Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos, Lew said further progress on reforms was important so European creditors could begin discussions with the International Monetary Fund on "the timing and details of debt relief."

"Putting Greece's debt on a sustainable path is critical to Greece's long-term economic health and I encourage all parties to be flexible to successfully conclude this fall's negotiations," Lew said."


Fleeing Turkish troops fear death if sent home from Greece: lawyer - Reuters

"They believe that, one way or another, they will lose their lives (in Turkey)," said Vasiliki Ilia Marinaki, a lawyer representing four of the men, as they appeared in court with their faces covered.

"Regardless of whether the death penalty is imposed or not, they believe that in the end they will be killed," she said.

...In a joint statement read out by another lawyer, Katerina Dapoudani, the eight reiterated they had "absolutely no involvement" in the coup attempt."


Turkey’s turmoil and its ties with Greece - eKathimerini

"...If Turkey is destabilized for some time, the fallout for Greece cannot be predicted.

Despite the dangers, however, there may be some positive aspects. For example, with Greece being the most stable country in the region, our partners might look more favorably towards a reduction of our debt, seeing the need to provide support.

Also, many tourists who might avoid Turkey could come to Greece. Investors – including Turks, perhaps – might also see Greece in a new light – if Athens made clear that it welcomed investments.

On the other hand, Greece might lose many Turkish tourists, who in the past couple of years have exceeded 1 million annually. If there is any benefit for Greece, though, it will depend on Turkey achieving stability soon.

...If conditions in Turkey worsened, the influx of people into Europe would be out of control."


127,000 employees work for 100 euros per month gross - Imerisia

"The Labor Department data containing detailed data on wage inequality and documented a large class of new poor workers earning meager wages that are much smaller even than the unemployment benefit of 360 euro OAED.

According to data of the Ministry, 126 956 employees are paid a gross monthly salary of 100 euros. A total of 343 760 employees are paid a monthly salaries between 100 and 400 euros gross."


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