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Greece and the economic crisis 2016

NEWS ARCHIVE - March 17 - March 31

March 31, 2016

Greece and its lenders recount the new austerity measures - Protothema

"The new round of contacts between Greece and its lenders start tomorrow with EuroWorking Group extraordinary teleconference meeting to assess the progress of negotiation talks in an attempt to conclude the program review by mid-April.

... Greece’s lenders have made their intentions clear during the last days. First, they are reluctant to say that an agreement will be reached by April 22, and second European Institutions and the IMF want to achieve a comprehensive agreement closing all issues..."

51,393 refugees in Greece on Thursday - Athens News Agency

"51,393 refugees and migrants were on the Greek territory on Wednesday while 377 new arrivals were recorded until 08:00."

ND proposes examining committee for third memorandum - Protothema

"The committee [would] also investigate whether there was a plan for the country’s exit from the euro.

Main opposition New Democracy tabled a proposal for an examining committee to conduct an investigation for the reasons why capital controls were imposed on Greece and the signing of the third memorandum, as well as the need for a fresh recapitalisation of Greek banks."

Bank of Cyprus will de-list from the Athens bourse - eKathimeri

"Bank of Cyprus, the Mediterranean island’s biggest lender, said on Thursday it is planning a premium listing on the London Stock Exchange as soon as the second half of 2016, and will de-list from the Athens bourse.

Bank of Cyprus was recapitalized through a bail-in of unsecured deposits in 2013 at the height of the eurozone crisis, but returned to profit in 2015."

Greece begins moving hundreds of refugees stranded at port to other towns - BD News

"Nearly 6,000 people, most from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, were stuck at the port of Piraeus on Thursday, authorities said. Greece's largest port lies about 12 km from central Athens.

By mid-morning, at least four buses departed for the port town of Kyllini in western Greece, some 280 km from Athens, where they will be housed in a former tourist complex. Families began gathering at the dock as more buses were expected to be deployed."

March 30, 2016

Migrant arrivals to Greece rise sharply despite EU-Turkey deal - Channel News Asia

"Arrivals of refugees and migrants to Greece from Turkey rose sharply on Wednesday, just over a week since the European Union and Turkey struck a deal intended to cut off the flow.

Greek authorities recorded 766 new arrivals between Tuesday morning and Wednesday morning, up from 192 the previous day. Most arrived on the northeastern Aegean island of Lesbos.

The EU Commission said on Tuesday that the flows in the last week had reduced, with only 1,000 people arriving from Turkey on Greek islands, compared to an average of 2,000 a day in the last couple of months."

Vitsas: goal of 2-week turnaround on asylum claims - Business Recorder

"Rights groups have consistently highlighted serious deficiencies in Greece's asylum process that prevent refugees from submitting asylum requests. Even when a request has been submitted, the application process can take months before a decision is made.

Some 4,000 security personnel and asylum experts -- many provided by fellow EU states -- are to be deployed to registration centres known as hotspots on the five Aegean islands facing Turkey to handle the application requests."

The growing refugee population on Lesbos - euronews

"More than 500 migrants and refugees arrived on the Greek island of Lesbos on Tuesday.

...Almost 10 days after a EU-Turkey deal that would see refugees and migrants sent back to Turkey from Greek islands, the flow of people fleeing war and poverty and trying to get to Europe have not abated."

Honeymoon with Tsipras Over - eKathimerini

"...During the debate Tsipras proved a tough player who is prepared to cross lines if that’s what it takes in order for him to remain in power, even if that means taking the country back 30 years.

...For a while now we have been waiting to see if some other kind of Tsipras existed, the kind of political leader who would go the extra mile and display an honest desire for consensus. As time goes by it is becoming clearer that the premier does not have these faculties, nor does he have the managerial capacity required by the times. He is good at one game only – the one he mastered during his years in the arena of university politics...."

More coverage:

Potami leader: Manipulation of justice is Tsipras’ priority - Protothema

Tsipras to ND Mitsotakis: no possibility of early elections - Capitol GR

Gennimata of PASOK lashes out at PM - Protothema

March 29, 2016

Greece to set up loudspeakers at border camp to dispel false rumors - Fox

More than 15,000 people — nearly a third of the total stranded in Greece — are refusing to move to government-built shelters around the country, and remain at the border with Macedonia and at the port of Piraeus, near Athens.

A spokesman for a government refugee crisis committee said authorities were struggling to counter false rumors on social media that borders could reopen.

...More than 2,000 people who reached the islands after March 20 have been detained to await deportation and continued their protests Monday on the islands of Chios and Lesbos, where they chanted "we want freedom."

Greek bank deposits drop for second month in a row in February - eKathimerini

"Greek bank deposits fell in February for the second month in a row after a 2.05 percent increase in December, data released by the country's central bank showed on Tuesday.

Business and household deposits decreased by 550 million euros, or 0.45 percent month-on-month to 121.68 billion euros ($136.3 billion), their lowest level since July 2003. They had declined to 122.23 billion euros in January."

March 28, 2016

Hellenikon property deal to conclude by Autumn - Reuters

"In 2014, Greece signed a 915-million-euro ($1.02 billion) deal to lease the property to a consortium led by Lamda Development with Chinese and Abu Dhabi-based firms.

But several steps are still required before the transaction is completed, including the approval of a zone planning scheme for the site and the granting of casino licences.

...The Lamda-led consortium plans to turn the 444-acre plot into a tourist, business and commercial hub."

ND Mitsotakis: Greece needs a new Constitution - Protothema

“The new Greece that we envision needs a new Constitution,” Mr. Mitsotakis noted stressing that “the crisis was created by politics and politics will get us out of the crisis, with the help of a new constitution”.

...He... stressed the need for a constitution that protected a government’s term in power and the stability of governing cycles, which he said should be increased to five years from four."

Round-up of views on the coming months in the Greek Crisis - eKathimerini

"... border closures along the migratory trail to Germany, and the apparent willingness of officials in Brussels to see Greece turned into a giant (if temporary) refugee camp, will harden the mood among Greek voters and their representatives. Already dealing with a thinning majority, Alexis Tsipras will find it tougher to force through the unpopular tax rises and pension cuts his creditors demand if Greeks feel like the rest of Europe has turned its back on their plight.

...Closed borders and an open review of the bailout program could, in the worst case, leave Greece scrambling to take in a six-figure number of refugees and to pay out billions on debts due in July.

...The needs of Tsipras, Merkel and the International Monetary Fund resemble an impossible triangle."

March 27, 2016

The Bitter Return of Greek prisoners of War - eKathimerini

“When we arrived at the camp we saw the crematoria. The girls and I thought that at least we'd eat well here – it had bakeries, it had bread – because we were very hungry in Yugoslavia where we were held prisoner before,” says Stamatiou.

“In the meantime we saw these creatures that weren't like human creatures at all. They looked like skeletons, their hair shorn short, wearing scarves on their heads and striped clothes. We thought that maybe we had been brought here to take care of these sick creatures. We were ignorant. We couldn't imagine that we were going to end up the same way.”

Since then she has carried the number 82224 imprinted on her left arm; her number at the Nazi death camp."

March 26, 2016

Migrants Scramble to Enter E.U. Relocation Program - NYT

"The closing of Europe’s main migrant route to Germany, whose open door policy last year made it a preferred destination for refugees, has stranded more than 50,000 people in Greece. Now, as a European Union deal to start returning new arrivals to Turkey takes effect, many are realizing that their dream of getting into Europe’s prosperous north may be virtually impossible to attain.

Having come this far, migrants are scrambling to figure out how they can stay legally anywhere in Europe, or at least avoid getting deported as new policies to reduce their numbers come into place."

March 25, 2016

Greece to expedite new reception centers for rising migrant numbers - Reuters

"We will attempt to create reception facilities for 30,000 people over the next 20 days," said George Kyritsis, a Greek government spokesman for the refugee crisis. Greece now has some 38,000 positions available in reception centers for refugees.

There were almost 50,000 refugees and migrants in Greece on Thursday, many living in squalid conditions in tents near its northern border with Macedonia, waiting for a border to open.

Greece celebrates Independence Day - eKarthimerini

"Presiding over the ceremony at Syntagma Square in front of Parliament was Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos, who laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

“...All Greeks motivated by the ideals of democracy have a duty, now more than ever, to put aside whatever differences we may have for the good of the interests of the nation and our people, to raise a united front of mutual responsibility in order to successfully resist the great challenges of the times and to ensure a better future for Greece and the younger generations of Greeks,” Pavlopoulos said in his address.

The president also made reference to the immigration crisis, saying that “faithful to the ancient Greek example of our forefathers’ behavior towards supplicants and also the Christian principles of love and solidarity, we Greeks see view the refugees through the terms of humanity.”

Alexis Tsipras message for the anniversary of March 25 - Imerisia

"The Greek Revolution of 1821 was the result of the European and Greek Enlightenment and it's spread of modern values ​​of freedom with social justice. As such, the Greek Struggle for Independence inspired an international wave of admiration, solidarity and active support, called Philhellenism.

Today, Greece and the Greek people are, again, the focus of global concern. Greece is at the forefront in defending universal values​​ and humanity, even during conditions of an unprecedented economic crisis.

In this struggle, our people demonstrate strength, dignity, pride and faith in the effort. Soon this difficult period will come to an end. The next page of our history belongs to a new Greece, free from the traumas of the economic crisis and the guardianship of lenders, a model of democracy, social solidarity and culture for the whole of Europe.

In this Greece, in five years' time, we will celebrate the 200th anniversary of the Greek Revolution."

March 24, 2016

Greek industry body recommends 20 pct tax on large investments‏- Capitol GR

"The Hellenic Federation of Enterprises (SEV) on Wednesday recommended a cut in the taxation of large investments to 20 pct and expanding the option of offsetting losses with future earnings from five years currently to 10 years, to safeguard offsetting high losses recorded in the years of successive recession.

...[Eftihios Vasilakis, member of SEV’s board and head of the tax affairs commission] noted that Greece occupies one of the top positions in a list of EU and OECD states in corporate and labour taxes and recommended expanding the use of e-transactions and e-billing, actions which could boost competitiveness and benefit both enterprises and the state."

New Democracy: Greece under SYRIZA-ANEL looks like a 3rd world country - Protothema

"In a statement called on the Greek government to transfer the refugees and immigrants from the Idomeni camp to organised reception facilities. He accused the Greek government that their incompetence made Greece look like a third world country."

Greece says no migrants have arrived in last 24 hours - France's Defence Minister warns 800,000 are heading for Europe - UK Daily Mail

"No migrants have arrived on Greek shores for the past 24 hours, a first since the deal between the EU and Turkey to send back new arrivals came in force on Sunday. The deal will see all new arrivals in Greece returned to Turkey, and aims to deter migrants and refugees from making the dangerous crossing over the Mediterranean Sea.

However, France's Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said 800,000 migrants are in Libya hoping to cross to Europe, amid fears the shutdown of the Turkey-Greece route could encourage people to attempt the even more dangerous Mediterranean crossing to Italy."

Coming measures to decongest the Piraeus refugees - Ethnos

"Deputy Minister Marine Thodoris Dritsas said that official announcements will be made later on a plan to decongest the port of Piraeus.

When asked by reporters if after the terrorist attack in Brussels might cause parties to withdraw from the recent refugeee agreements, he replied that this has not been raised by either side of the EU-Turkey agreement."

March 23, 2016

Schaeuble says must find option if Greece can't cut pensions - eKathimerini

"If, for reasons that we know about, there is not much room for manouevre in pension reforms, then the three institutions must ... together with the Greek government work on finding something else to do instead," Schaeuble told reporters.

Greece could face Europe ban after authorities uphold cup cancellation - UK Guardian

Fifa and Uefa sent a letter to Greek authorities last Friday requesting they reinstate the Greek Cup by 1 April after the tournament was cancelled by the government earlier this month.

A failure to meet the deadline could result in sanctions that include the suspension of the Greek federation, clubs blocked from playing in European club competitions and the national side also barred from international tournaments.

Athens complains to NATO over 'ineffective' Aegean patrols, sources say - eKathimerini

"According to sources, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Wednesday contacted NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg to complain over the fact that maritime patrols by the military alliance in the Aegean have had no substantial effect on the flow of migrants and refugees from Turkey."

Greece Delays Sending Refugees Back To Turkey under EU Deal - Bonham Journal

"Around 1,500 people crossed the Aegean to Greece's islands Friday before the deal was brought in, officials said - more than double the day before and compared with several hundred a day earlier this week.

..."The authorities' goal is to empty the islands", where over 8,000 migrants are stuck, said Michele Telaro of the medical charity Doctors without Borders (MSF).

In return for accepting the deal, Turkey will receive an aid of Euro 3 B to deal with the migrants, with further Euro 3 B to be allocated once the initial resources are used."

Aid Group Quits Greece over Aid Deal - Telesurtv

"A Norwegian humanitarian group said on Wednesday it is suspending its activities on the Greek island of Chios in the wake of the refugee deal between Turkey and the European Union, echoing the harsh criticism of the United Nation's refugee agency, UNHCR.

An official at the Norwegian Refugee Council said the way the center on Chios, a Greek island close to the Turkish coast, operated had changed "dramatically overnight" since Sunday, when the EU-Turkey deal came into effect.

"Before it was an open reception and registration facility... Now it is a closed detention center," Dan Tyler, a protection adviser for the council, told Reuters by phone from Chios."

More Coverage:

More aid agencies pull out of Greek camps, spurning EU deal - eKathimerini

President Pavlopoulos send condolences to Belgian people - Protothema

"...Pavlopoulos extended his deepest condolences towards the families of those lost in the terrorist attacks in a contact with the head of the Belgian state, King Philip. The Greek President said these acts offend Europe and its democratic values."

March 22, 2016

Greek Foreign Ministry decries Brussels attacks - eKathimerini

"...a suspected suicide bombing at the main airport, in which at least 10 people have been killed, according to reports, and dozens injured.

The attack was followed by at least one blast at a metro station near the European Union’s headquarters and European Parliament, prompting Belgian authorities to declare a lockdown of the airport, the entire metro system and the city center.

Greece's permanent representation in Brussels is located close to Maalbeek station where one of the blasts occurred but, according to Kathimerini's correspendent in the Belgian capital, Eleni Varvitsiotis, there were no reports of any Greeks among the dead or injured."

Greece asks EU partners for help to make migrant deal work - Reuters

"Greece asked its European partners on Monday for help implementing a deal with Turkey meant to stem an influx of migrants into Europe, as hundreds more - many unaware of the new rules - streamed from their boats onto Greek islands.

... "We are at a crucial turning point ... The management of the refugee crisis for Europe as a whole hinges on the progress and success of this agreement," [EU Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos] said."

Greece sets up detention camps as refugee deal hits delays - SF Gate

"EU countries are trying to avoid a repeat of the mass migration in 2015, when more than a million people entered the bloc. Most were fleeing civil war in Syria and other conflicts, traveling first to Turkey and then to the nearby Greek islands in dinghies and small boats. Efforts to limit migration have run into multiple legal and practical obstacles.

Under the deal, Greek authorities will detain and return newly arrived refugees to Turkey. The EU will settle more refugees directly from Turkey and speed up financial aid to Ankara. The two sides, however, are still working out how migrants will be sent back."

Syrian Refugees Continue to Flee to Greece - VOA

"Witnesses said almost 900 refugees -- including Syrians, Iraqis and Afghans -- entered four islands in the Aegean Sea. Officials confirmed that two men were found dead and two girls drowned off the Greek island of Rhodes.

On Friday, the EU and Turkey agreed that all migrants -- including Syrians -- entering Greece by sea from Turkey after Sunday will be returned. However, they will need to register and be permitted to ask for asylum."

March 21, 2016

Greece appeals for EU logistics aid for migrant deal to work - CNA

"Turkish officials arrived on the Greek island of Lesbos on Monday to help realise the deal, which requires new arrivals from March 20 to be held until their asylum applications are processed and for those deemed ineligible to be sent back to Turkey from April 4 onwards.

...Under the EU-Turkey roadmap agreed last Friday, a coordination structure must be created by March 25 and some 4,000 personnel - more than half from other European Union member states - deployed to the islands by next week.

...Before Friday's deal, migrants and refugees had been free to wander out of the camp and head to ferries to the Greek mainland, from where they would mostly head north through the Balkans towards wealthier western Europe, especially Germany.

Now, new arrivals are supposed to be held in centres pending the outcome of their asylum applications. "

March 20, 2016

Greece Struggles to Enforce Migrant Accord on First Day - NYT

"The accord, struck between the union and Turkey on Friday, set a 12:01 a.m. Sunday deadline for Turkey to stem the flow of people making clandestine journeys across the Aegean Sea to Greece in an attempt to enter Europe, and required Greece to begin sending back migrants who are not eligible for asylum.

Yet processing centers on the Greek island of Lesbos and on several other Greek islands were not adequately staffed to comply immediately with the new measures, and officials said they were waiting for the European Union to follow through on a pledge to send at least 2,300 European police and asylum experts to help."

Hundreds of migrants arrive in Greece despite deal to return them - Boston Globe

"Greece is still awaiting the arrival of 2,300 European experts, including translators, to help carry out the agreement.

In the meantime, the EU said any new arrivals in Greece from now on will be subject to possible deportation.

At least 875 new refugees — mostly Syrians, along with Iraqis and Afghans — landed on four of Greece’s Aegean islands close to the Turkish coast between Saturday evening and daybreak Sunday."

Greece starts evacuation of Lesbos migrants - Liveleak

"Greek officials say more than 47,000 undocumented migrants are in the country. In March alone, more than 21,000 people arrived, according to figures from the United Nations refugee angency (UNHCR).

In recent days, the number of arrivals have increased again. One Greek Coast Guard suggested that migrants may fear the door to Europe is being closed by the signing of the EU-Turkey deal on Friday.

"They want, whatever it costs, to get to Greece and therefore the EU," said the officer on the island of Chios."

EU-Turkey deal fails to stem refugee flight to Greece

"Twelve boats had arrived on the shoreline near the airport by 6 a.m. (0400 GMT), a police official said. A government account put the number of arrivals across Greece in the past 24 hours at 875 people.

Under the European Union deal with Turkey, all migrants and refugees, including Syrians, who cross to Greece illegally by sea from March 20 will be sent back to Turkey once they are registered and their asylum claims have been processed.

That is expected to take effect from April 4, by which time Greece must have in place a fast-track process for assessing asylum claims. The EU has pledged to help Greece set up a task force of some 4,000 staff, including judges, interpreters, border guards and others to manage each case individually."

March 18, 2016

Merkel urges migrants at Idomeni to leave camp - Fox Carolina

"German Chancellor Angela Merkel says a deal between the European Union and Turkey to stem the flow of people to Greece will hit the smugglers' business model hard and send a "clear message" to dissuade would-be migrants to Europe.

The deal calls for Turkey to take back people who make the crossing illegally starting Sunday. Merkel said that means that "anyone who sets out on this dangerous route not only risks his life but also has no prospect of success."

She said European leaders "hope that, with this, irregular migration will end in a short time."

Merkel said of the deal: "The upshot of today is that Europe will manage to survive this difficult test, with all 28 (EU) members and together with Turkey."

March 17, 2016

A Journey Across Greece, a Bankrupt Land at Risk of Becoming a Refugee Prison - NYT

"For now, Idomeni is a locked gate, where refugees wait anxiously, hoping the border will reopen. Greece, itself nearly bankrupt, is at risk of becoming a refugee prison, with more than 44,000 people already trapped in the country, a number ticking upward each day, as aid groups warn of a potential humanitarian crisis by summer.

...The question is when frustration will boil over, whether by Greeks already embittered by the economic crisis or by refugees angry at being penned in. On Monday morning, hundreds of disillusioned refugees marched out of Idomeni — some of them shouting, “Going to Germany!” — and forded a river to enter Macedonia.

Several hundred people made it to Moin, a Macedonian village. There, the police stopped them, and returned them to Idomeni.

“...What do you mean ‘a system’?”

Anetta Karathanasi was amused that I thought someone was managing the refugees pouring out of the morning ferries arriving at the port of Piraeus from the Greek isles."

Greece demands no 'fortress states' on migrants - Fox

"Athens has repeatedly criticized fellow EU member Austria for capping the number of migrants it lets in, which had a domino effect through the Balkans and left nearly 46,000 migrants stuck in Greece.

That figure includes 14,000 living in a waterlogged tent city set up round the closed Idomeni border crossing with non EU member Macedonia."

Document shows Tsipras signed statement in France with name ‘Macedonia’ on it - Protothema

"A document reveals that Greek PM Alexis Tsipras had signed a joint statement with the President of France, Francois Hollande in Paris during the meeting of socialist leaders on March 12, where FYROM was referred to as ‘Macedonia’. The ‘de facto’ concession of the name ‘Macedonia’ without the use of quotation marks or asterisks in an official document is a grave political blunder by the Greek PM."

Refugee conditions in Greece 'deteriorating', says Angelina Jolie - eKathimerini

"The 40-year-old actress, dressed in a black T-shirt and trousers, spent around 30 minutes at the port, speaking to UN staff and refugees coming to Piraeus from the islands facing Turkey.

Some 4,000 people are packed in terminals and tents there. They are just a fraction of the number of people who are stranded in Greece after the so-called migrant trail, heading from the Balkans up to northern Europe, was closed off by national border controls."

More coverage:

Day two: Angelina Jolie on Lesvos- eKathimerini

I do not believe that the refugees' drama will end soon, says Angelina Jolie - AMNA

Danger of collapse of the middle class - Imerisia

"...[the current] model is not viable. Four employees pay taxes and contributions to pensions for three who are retired.

... [because of high tax rates] the average citizen is discouraged from trying to find better work and the result is a shrinking middle class. The subsequent collapse of social cohesion, of course, leads to economic stagnation and gradual political radicalism..."

NEWS ARCHIVE - March 2016


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