Athens Digest 15.06.2018

• Last bailout bill approved in the Parliament

• After “North Macedonia” name deal, no-confidence vote tests coalition

• Dombrovskis: Prior actions broadly on track

• Terror gunman granted prison leave after hunger strike


# With no dissenting vote, parliament has approved a final battery of bailout reforms before the program ends in two months. Lawmakers voted 154-144 in favour of the 500-page bill that introduces a wide range of new measures from cracking down on untaxed tobacco sales to boosting incentives for overseas movie productions in Greece. Prime Minister Tsipras said the government’s strong performance in improving public finances had restored the country’s international standing. Kyriakos Mitsotakis, the opposition leader, maintained the government narrative was “based on a lie … that is tearing up the middle class” and heaping tax debt on most Greeks.

# Directly after the vote, parliament members began to debate a censure motion submitted by the Conservatives in the wake of a proposed agreement to rename Greece’s neighbor as North Macedonia. Despite praise of the breakthrough by the European Union and NATO, New Democracy has vowed to try and scupper the deal. “Tsipras-Zaev agreement is a bad deal. The concession of Macedonian language and ethnicity is unacceptable,” Mitsotakis said. Tsipras’ coalition partner, the Independent Greeks, opposes the compromise but is unlikely to topple the government. The debate also exposed growing divisions within the newly formed Movement for Change, with constituent parties at odds with the alliance leader PASOK on how collective decisions should be made.

# In Athens, European Commission Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis, asked by Athens Digest’s John Papageorgiou in an interview for Athens Municipal Radio whether this could affect the programme exit, he said: “We hope not in a sense of today’s parliament vote towards exit. There is some work to be done on the government level to meet all prior actions. But broadly speaking, this work appears on track (…) This motion is related to a separate topic, to the issue of potentially ‘Northern Macedonia.’ The European Commission welcomes the agreement and the leadership shown by the two prime ministers and considers it important to close that chapter, to solve the name issue, which can be politically and economically beneficial for the whole region.”

# Judicial officials have granted a 48-hour prison leave to terror group gunman Dimitris Koufodinas after he went on hunger strike to demand the furlough. The 61-year-old Koufodinas, who was a leading member of the armed far-left group November 17, remains hospitalised after ending the 15-day hunger strike. Earlier, members of an anarchist group displayed a large protest banner at the Acropolis to demand that his right to prison leave be granted.



On our Radar: Cash and praise from creditors
The ESM approved the release of a EUR 1 billion loan sub-tranche for payment of private sector arrears. “If Greece stays determined in maintaining the reform momentum and in implementing the remaining reforms, I am optimistic … Greece can make a successful exit in August, as planned,” ESM Managing Director Klaus Regling said. Yesterday, institutions’ representatives, participating in an Economist Congress panel in Athens, praised Greece’s efforts to regain fiscal stability which paved the way for the country’s adjustment programme exit. Declan Costello (EC), Francesco Drudi (ECB), Nicola Giammarioli (ESM) and Philip Gerson (dep. Director, IMF European Department) referred to the remarkable Greek efforts but highlighted that the country must continue implementing reforms in order to achieve sustainable recovery.