Athens Digest 28.05.2018

• PM courts Thessaloniki Mayor, dismisses speculation of early elections

• Conservative leader promises sweeping tax reforms

• Greek debt talks to resume at G-7 Summit

• After New York, FYROM name talks to resume in Brussels

# With next year’s elections in mind, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has thrown ruling Syriza’s weight behind Thessaloniki’s liberal-minded mayor Yiannis Boutaris, urging him to lead a center left democratic front in the local elections. Tsipras, who met Boutaris on Friday in the wake of the attack against him by right wing extremists, dubbed the mayor a symbol of the “anti-far right front.” He also dismissed speculation of early elections. “The government’s term ends in 2019,” he said.

# Opposition New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis has vowed to slash taxes if his party comes to power, and dismissed the government’s narrative of a clean bailout exit. “My non-negotiable commitment is to reduce taxation,” he told Skai broadcaster yesterday, adding that corporate taxes will be initially reduced to 25% and then to 20%. He also pledged to slash the unpopular EΝFIA property tax by 30% and to reduce taxes on dividends. He said that if his government’s investment-friendly policy allows it “we will also discuss contributions cuts.” He derided talk of a clean bailout exit for Greece as the government, he said, has signed on for EUR 5.2 billion in “additional measures.”These are not included in the third memorandum,” he said.

# European creditors and the IMF will, reportedly, seek to resolve their differences over Greece’s debt at the G7 summit meeting of Finance Ministers in Canada on Thursday. Speaking to John Papageorgiou of the Athens Digest, Miranda Xafa, a former IMF representative, noted that the Fund wants debt relief to also include bilateral loans that Greek got from its EU partners in 2010. The IMF has insisted that it wants clarity on what sort of debt relief measures will be granted to Greece before the end of the month, so its board can decide whether or not it will activate its Greek program.

# With a new name reportedly on the table, negotiations between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia will continue today in Brussels. Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias will take part in a working breakfast between his EU counterparts and his opposite number from FYROM Nikola Dimitrov on the sidelines of the EU foreign Affairs Council. Media reports said a new name is being discussed – apart from the four proposed by UN mediator Matthew Nimetz, as both sides scramble for a deal before the June 28 EU summit. Nimetz said after trilateral talks in New York on Friday with Kotzias and Dimitrov that “we still don’t have a final resolution of the issues,” but they have been “narrowed.”

On our radar: Three in the battle over Greek paid TV platform
Three suitors for telecom firm Forthnet have reportedly progressed to the final stage of bidding for the Greek provider. According to sources cited in the Greek media, the consortium of Vodafone Greece and Wind Hellas, the ANT1 group and the Athena-Odyssey group led by veteran international telecommunications market leader Stan Miller, have made it to the second round. The latter has reportedly strengthened its position after, the same sources said, incorporating Dutch firm Reggeborgh Invest within its ranks. The sale procedure is being coordinated by Nomura International.