Athens Digest 06.04.2018

• Migration minister makes Turkey call as migrant deal faces cash crisis

• Greece’s 10-year bond yield at its lowest level since the start of the crisis

• Pension payments sill fractured, more protests planned

• Government, opposition at odds on FYROM talks, despite briefings

# Greece’s new migration minister Dimitris Vitsas has telephoned Suleyman Soylu, the interior minister of Turkey, amid mounting concern for the future of a two-year-old deal to stop migrants heading to the EU. Migrant and refugee arrivals on Greek islands have surged in recent weeks as the bloc faces a reported dispute with several member states on how money should be raised to pay an additional EUR3 billion pledged to Turkey to maintain the deal reached in 2016. Relations between Greece and Turkey have also soured this year. Greek military officials reported two mock dogfights over the Aegean Sea yesterday involving Greek and Turkish fighter jets.

# Greece’s 10-year bond yield has dropped below 4 percent, hitting its lowest level since the start of the crisis, following optimistic remarks by government officials on progress in debt relief talks. Yields of 10-year bonds on the secondary market dipped to 3.98 percent, while the 5-year bond yield fell to 2.99 percent. On Tuesday, government spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos said talks with creditors had advanced on the so-called French Mechanism to link debt repayment terms to annual projected growth rates.

# Pensioners’ associations have announced a series of protests in Athens against planned cuts, while a public retirement monitoring service published data showing that the pension payment system remains highly fractured in many cases. The central Athens protests were announced for April 25-June 19. The Social Security e-Government Department (IDIKA) said a small number of pensioners still received payments from as many as 10 different funds. If said the number of pensioners in Greece in February was recorded at 2,580,925 out of a national population of 10.7 million.

# The government and New Democracy have renewed a public spat over the FYROM-name negotiations, after Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias completed a round of briefings with opposition parties. George Koumoutsakos, ND’s spokesman for foreign affairs, said his party’s concern had only intensified after the briefing. The Foreign Ministry shot back, accusing the conservatives of failing to come up with a “serious and responsible position” on the ongoing talks. Opposition leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis, whose supporters broadly oppose a compromise, has accused the government of mishandling the talks by failing to seek adequate guarantees from Skopje and having missed an opportunity to reach out to opposition parties before the negotiations started.

On our Radar: Taxi monopoly hard to beat
Uber announced it will suspend its main service in Greece in the wake of recent legislation placing draconian operating restrictions on the company. In a statement, the company said it would suspend its UberX operations in greater Athens at midnight on Monday “until an appropriate resolution is found.” Uber will keep running its conventional taxi service. Yesterday, 200 Uber partners and drivers protested outside the Ministry of Transportation. Taxi drivers’ associations had lobbied hard for the new law, and thanked the parties in the governing coalition for making the legal changes.