Athens Digest 04.06.2018

• No agreement in Canada between the IMF and the Eurozone on Greek debt relief measures

• Greece’s IMF representative expects positive mid-term results in Fund’s upcoming DSA

• Tsakalotos hints at tax cuts in 2019

• Athens lowers expectations of imminent deal with Skopje over name

• New Democracy maintains double-digit lead over ruling Syriza, poll says

# After the failure of the Eurozone and the IMF to agree on debt relief measures for Greece at the Washington Group in Canada, Greek officials say that the Fund may stay on board as a technical consultant without activating its Greek programme. Reportedly, talks on the debt issue will continue until the next Eurogroup meeting (June 21) aiming to a common debt sustainability approach. Moreover, Greece’s IMF representative Michalis Psalidopoulos said in an interview to the Athens News Agency, that he expects the Fund to describe the debt as sustainable in the medium term in its debt sustainability analysis (DSA). “Given that macroeconomic data in Greece has improved compared to 2017 and that the European institutions’ debt measures will be announced, I suspect that debt sustainability will expand chronologically compared to last year,” he claimed.

# Meanwhile, Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos has hinted that permanent tax reductions could be on the cards by next year. In an interview to the Ethnos newspaper yesterday, Tsakalotos said that there will be increasing fiscal scope to achieve this as of 2019. He also insisted that the country doesn’t need a credit line after the end of its bailout programme.

# Hopes that a deal between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia over the latter’s name was imminent were dashed on Friday by government officials who said that the possibility of an agreement in the coming days was receding as Skopje was unwilling to uphold everything agreed between the two foreign ministers. Government Spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos said the “ball is in their court.” FYROM’s VMRO-DPMNE opposition held a rally against a deal on Saturday, while similar demos will take place in Greece on Wednesday.

# New Democracy maintains a 10.3% lead over ruling Syriza, according to a poll by ‘Rass’ on behalf of the Action 24 TV channel. A similar poll by Rass in March gave the conservatives a 10.2 lead over the leftist party. In the survey of voter intentions published on Friday, 29.7% said they would back the conservatives compared to 19.4% for Syriza. The center-left Movement for Change was third with 9.7%, ahead of extreme right Golden Dawn with 7% and Communist party KKE on 6.8%. Junior coalition partner the Independent Greeks got 2.5% – below the 3% threshold to enter Parliament. Furthermore, 49.1% said they believe Greece’s situation will deteriorate after its bailout exit in August.

On Our Radar: Corbyn calls for return of Parthenon Marbles to Greece
Britain’s Labour Party leader, Jeremy Corbyn, has called for the return of the Parthenon Marbles to Greece. The sculptures, which are housed in the British Museum, were hacked off the Parthenon temple on the Acropolis in the early 19th century by Lord Elgin when Athens was part of the Ottoman Empire. In an interview to Ta Nea newspaper, Corbyn said the sculptures “belong” to Greece as they adorned the Parthenon for thousands of years before Lord Elgin removed them, and he called for “constructive” discussions with the Greek government.