Athens Digest 12.06.2018

• Bailout bill debate starts with pledge from Tsakalotos to oppose credit line

• “One way or another” IMF to remain engaged in Greece

• FYROM’s name talks take “decisive step” forward

• Mitsotakis speaks at global Jewish forum in Jerusalem


# MinFin Euclid Tsakalotos has accused political opponents of using an outdated narrative against the government as debate got underway in parliament for the final bailout-era reform bill. The finance minister stressed that Greece would not be seeking a precautionary credit line. He told conservative lawmakers: “You have not been following the developments and you don’t understand what’s happening … You haven’t been following talks on the debt which are constantly improving as you will see (at the Eurogroup meeting) on June 21.” Parliament is to vote on the bill with the prior actions of the last programme review on Thursday.

# “We will certainly remain engaged one way or the other with Greece. That will probably come to a (conclusion) which will be much clearer on June 21 at the Eurogroup meeting,” IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde told reporters in Berlin, after meeting Chancellor Merkel. Germany is reportedly advocating a debt relief deal that would allow for a 15-year extension on bailout fund loans, as long as Greece leaves its cash buffer untouched. Speaking to a Greek financial news website, European Commission Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis said all sides involved in the negotiations were pressing for a conclusion on June 21, but that “the date is not carved in stone.” He added: “We must ensure that Greece has significant fiscal reserves and that there are upfront debt relief measures that will limit Greece’s exposure to the markets in the first years after the program. We must ensure a gradual return to the markets”.

# Talks on the “Macedonia-name” issue have taken a “decisive step” forward, according to Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias, raising hope for a breakthrough. After weeks of hot-then-cold negotiations, the prime ministers of Greece and FYROM Alexis Tsipras and Zoran Zaev spoke on the phone and are to follow up with another call today. Zaev told local news media that the two leaders spoke about reaching a “historic agreement.” In Athens, junior coalition partner Independent Greeks called an unscheduled news conference for this morning concerning only “party matters” as claimed. According to Syriza sources, “no negative surprises” are expected.

# Greek opposition leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis held hour-long talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and pledged to further strengthen ties between the two countries in the future. “It is my personal commitment to further strengthen this relationship,” MItsotakis said. He traveled to Jerusalem to speak at the American Jewish Committee’s annual global forum. The AJC honoured Mitsotakis’ father, Constantine Mitsotakis, who as prime minister recognised Israel in 1990 on behalf of the Greek government in his first act of foreign policy.

On our Radar: Anarchists tried to storm into the Public Order Ministry
Protests against police have intensified as a jailed terrorist gunman completes two weeks on hunger strike. Dimitris Koufodinas, the lead assassin of the far-left group November 17, began the protest after being denied his third prison leave, following a challenge by a public prosecutor. Members of the anarchist group Rubicon tried to storm into the Public Order Ministry building in northern Athens, scattering leaflets near the entrance. They were all detained for questioning. Koufodinas remains under guard at a state hospital.