Athens Digest 07.05.2018

• Not the time to discuss postponement of fiscal measures, government insists

• Stress test results of Greek systemic banks lauded as sign of recovery

• CEO of National Bank of Greece steps down

• Turkey is number one national threat, Greeks say

# As Eurogroup Chairman Mario Centeno insisted to Kathimerini newspaper that Greece must continue to implement and own reforms, Government Spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos stressed again that now is not the time to discuss postponements in the enforcement of planned fiscal measures, namely pension cuts. “If the country’s fiscal course allows it we could, later on, take measures to ease austerity policies,” he told Athens Radio. He dismissed calls by socialists Movement for Change (former Pasok) for early elections and accused the socialist party of pursuing a strategy to back conservatives New Democracy, whose leader has also called for early elections. Socialist leader Fofi Gennimata’s remarks last week raised sparking speculation of snap polls in October.

# The resilience demonstrated by the country’s four systemic banks -Alpha Bank, Eurobank, National Bank of Greece (NBG) and Piraeus Bank- in the ECB’s stress tests has been lauded in Greece as an indication of the sector’s improvement. Stress tests showed average capital depletion of 9 percentage points in adverse scenario. The results released on Saturday were welcomed by their administrations.

# Piraeus Bank also reiterated in its announcement that it is executing a capital-strengthening plan. “The results of the Stress Test Exercise confirm that the market environment in Greece is tangibly improving, even under the conservative assumptions applied in such a robust regulatory exercise. We remain committed to the execution of “Agenda 2020” to further strengthen Piraeus’ financial position and support the country’s ongoing economic recovery,” Christos Megalou, the bank’s CEO said.

# Meanwhile, the CEO of the National Bank of Greece (NBG), Leonidas Fragkiadakis, tendered his resignation on Friday. According to media reports his resignation followed the recent negative developments in selling the bank’s subsidiary, Ethniki Asfalistiki. The Hellenic Financial Stability Fund -which holds 40.39 percent of the NBG- announced that it supports the Board’s decision to accept Fragκiadakis’ resignation. His temporary replacement until a new CEO is hired is Deputy CEO Paul Mylonas.

On our Radar: Turkey is number one threat, Greeks say
With tensions between Athens and Ankara on the rise in recent months, most Greeks consider Turkey as their country’s number one enemy and threat, according to a survey conducted by the ‘Prorata’ polling company on behalf of the Sunday issue of the ‘To Ethnos’ newspaper. More specifically, Turkey is considered an enemy by 87%, while 78% feel it poses a threat to Greece’s territorial integrity. The poll also showed that 67% said they fear a military incident due to Turkey’s aggressive stance. 61% expressed anger at the Erdogan government, while an equal number said it was disappointed by Greece’s inability to deal with the tension.