Athens Digest 15.05.2018

• Ex-stats chief Georgiou back in legal peril

• Debate over debt relief measures as inspections resume

• Greece digs in on terms for FYROM name talks

• Migration bill aimed at islands


# Greece’s former statistics chief Andreas Georgiou has been landed back in legal jeopardy after a senior panel of judges dismissed a recommendation to drop charges against him. Following a third reversal, the 58-year-old Georgiou faces a possible trial on allegations of making false statements regarding the country’s 2009 budget deficit, despite taking up the position of statistics agency director after Greece had already requested international rescue funding. A former IMF official, Georgiou returned to Greece in 2010 to reorganize the Greek agency as an independent body. EU officials have repeatedly credited him with rescuing the troubled agency.

# Technical teams from creditor institutions returned to Athens, as Greece was reminded of its pressing deadlines. With mission chiefs due tomorrow, the government is expected to deliver swift progress on prior actions by a May 24 Eurogroup meeting _ a message underlined at yesterday’s Euroworking group. Daniele Nouy, Supervisory Board chair at the ECB, is also in Athens to meet senior bankers grappling with Greece’s non-performing loan crisis. A leadership-level debate will be held in parliament on May 23 on the state of Greece’s negotiations with creditors.

# Meanwhile, today’s reports are focusing on the different stance between Berlin and the IMF as far as the mid-term Greek debt relief measures are concerned. The IMF is reportedly asking for a more automated procedure while Germany and other Eurogroup members are asking for political approval before the implementation of each debt relief package.

# Government officials say Greece’s position remains unchanged regarding talks to resolve the Macedonia-name dispute, ahead of an expected meeting this week between the prime ministers of Greece and FYROM. The officials said the new name would have to apply for domestic and international use _ the so-called “erga omnes” condition that has been rejected by Skopje. Athens also insists that the name change must be guaranteed by constitutional amendment, in exchange for its support to join NATO and advance accession talks with the EU. Prime Ministers Tsipras and Zaev are due to meet Thursday on the sidelines of a Western Balkans summit in Sofia.

# Parliament is to vote on draft legislation today to boost asylum service staff and revise restrictions for migrants entering the EU through the Greek islands. The bill is aimed at easing severe overcrowding at camps on the islands, following violent protests by asylum seekers and local residents. Under the changes, migrants brought to sites on the mainland would remain under geographical restriction _ a controversial practice used to cement the 2016 EU-Turkey agreement to limit the number of migrants traveling to Europe.



On our Radar: Looming election heaps pressure on centre-left
Socialist parties and political groups in the newly-formed Movement for Change have fallen into open disagreement over possible post-election alliances, as Greece’s two largest parties, Syriza and New Democracy, steered their battle towards the political centre. Pasok and allies in the Movement are split on overtures made by the Syriza-led government for political collaboration on issues including constitutional and election reform. The government yesterday said it was seeking cross-party support to break up the country’s largest electoral district, which supplies 44 of the parliament’s 300 seats. New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis also took a swipe at the Movement’s Potami Party, arguing that the reasons for its foundation in 2014 are no longer relevant.