Athens Digest 14.03.2018

• Bailout exit equation worries Athens

• Talk of (football) Grexit is back

• Greek soldiers’ arrest, an issue for Greece and Turkey to resolve says NATO Secretary General

• Deutsche Telekom eyes for OTE stake

• Senior Thessaloniki notary public found dead

# To the alarm of official in Athens, Greece’s bailout exit equation is getting more complicated. The Finance Ministry is racing to have its post-August growth strategy ready in less than a month, creditors are reportedly back in a state of disagreement: Germany over the French-backed debt relief proposal tying repayment terms to growth rates without focusing on the reforms’ continuation, and the Europeans with the IMF over with post-bailout spending cuts on pensions and tax rates should be staggered or all heaped on election-year2019. Comments by Pierre Moscovici were met with relief in Athens, after the finance commissioner urged all creditors to take Greece’s improving economic performance into account.

# It was another day of high drama for Greek football: PAOK chairman, the Greek-Russian oligarch, Ivan Savvidis issued an apology for running onto the pitch with a gun on his belt. The Judiciary launched an investigation into the latest flare-up of violence. And FIFA sent a delegation of experts to Athens to underline the message that without urgent reforms, Greece would be expelled from international competition. Sound familiar? The local news media is already raising the possibility of an embarrassing “football Grexit.” But sports commentators reckon the situation will be straightened out long before the country fulfils its next round of bailout commitments _ anticipating an agreement that would hand greater league monitoring powers to the Greek Football Association along with UEFA and FIFA. Meanwhile, Greek and international media reports highlight that Savvidis is a president Putin’s friend and he has been a supporter of the Greek government.

# Greek opposition leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis met with a senior national security official at the White House, as Greece continues to grapple with its tense relationship with Turkey and an effort to reach a FYROM-name compromise. Mitsotakis met Fiona Hill, President Trump’s special assistant for European affairs and Russia, and a member of his National Security Council. While visiting the United States, the conservative leader has repeatedly called on Turkey to release two Greek soldiers who were arrested in Turkey earlier this month after straying over the border. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg refused to make any further comment on the issue yesterday, telling Turkey’s Anadolu Agency that it remained an issue for Greece and Turkey to resolve.

# Offers for a 5 percent stake in dominant telecoms provider OTE must be submitted by Thursday, in Greece’s latest privatization venture. Germany’s Deutsche Telekom, currently owns 40 percent of the former state monopoly, and has right of first refusal in the upcoming sale, which the government hopes will raise EUR 280 million, current market value of the 5 percent package.The sale by privatisations agency HRADF would leave Greece with just a 5 percent stake in the company.

# The head of the notary publics’ association in Thessaloniki has been found dead in an apparent suicide, according to early indications. The body of Ioanna Bilisi-Chrousala was found in the sea outside the northern Greek city, and police officials said they were examining a note found in her handbag. Bilisi-Chrousala had been at the centre of protests against foreclosed-home auctions but faced allegations of embezzlement that she had strenuously denied.

On our Radar: Greek media landscape. Mega goes under
Broadcast regulators have refused to issue a licence for Greece’s private Mega TV station to stay on the air. Licence board members voted 6-3 for the channel to cease broadcasting _ ending the station’s 29-year run. Mega was Greece’s first private national broadcaster and for years its top-rated station. The channel faced severe financial difficulties from 2012 and stopped regular live programming two years ago.