• After bailout exit, PM Tsipras says focus shifts to corruption. Government promises “targeted and permanent relief measures” in 2019
• “Real success will come if cash buffer remains intact” says to Athens Digest Panos Tsakloglou, the former representative of the country in the EWG
• Greece calls for fair distribution of burden at informal EU summit on migration
• Northern Greece overwhelmingly opposed to Macedonia name deal, poll shows
# Basking in the aftermath of a “historic” bailout exit deal at Thursday’s Eurogroup, PM Alexis Tsipras said in a televised event on Friday that it made Greece “normal” again and its debt sustainable. He claimed that his government’s top priority now in the remaining 15 months is to tackle corruption and reform the justice system. His pledge was seen to pave the way for a period of intense political polarization in the run up to general elections, whenever they occur. New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis derided Friday’s event as a “fiesta” saying Greece got less than it expected and that he will table a proposal today for a House debate on the economy.
# The Eurogroup deal was better than anticipated and will allow “targeted and permanent relief measures” in 2019 which will be outlined in the next budget, according to Dimitris Liakos, a close aide to the Prime Minister. Meanwhile, according to claims made in government-affiliated newspapers, the deal also will allow for negotiations with creditors to put off the planned reductions in pensions and the tax threshold in 2019. In his speech on Friday, Tsipras pledged to stay the course of reforms and vowed to raise the minimum wage and bring back collective labor bargaining.
# Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras reiterated Greece’s standing positions on migration at the informal mini EU summit in Brussels yesterday, emphasizing the need to revise the European asylum policy for a fair distribution of the burdens created by the refugee crisis. He also called for more support to transit countries and reinforcements for countries of first arrival, as well as the replacement of Frontex by a strong European Coast Guard and Brigade forces. “I put forward the view that we must see as equally seriously the protection of the EU’s borders and the external dimension of the migration crisis,” he said after the summit’s conclusion, adding that the EU should focus on the sharing of responsibility so that the burden doesn’t fall on countries of first arrival.
# Almost nine out of 10 people polled in northern Greece expressed their opposition to the recent name deal struck by Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. In a survey conducted by the ‘Interview’ polling company across the northern Greek province of Macedonia – 86% percent said they thought the deal was a bad one. The poll showed that 71% were annoyed at the concessions made by the government, namely the recognition of a Macedonian identity and language and the inclusion of the term Macedonia in FYROM’s name
On our radar: What does the Eurogroup agreement mean?
Speaking to Athens Digest, Greece’s former Eurogroup representative Prof. Panos Tsaklogou answers:
“Unlike the expected celebratory declarations of the government and the Institutions about the end of the Greek Economic Adjustment Programs, all the components of another such program are in place (fiscal consolidation measures, structural reforms, conditionality, cheap financing, enhanced supervision).
The envisaged extension of maturities of EFSF loans and, particularly, the corresponding extension of grace periods make the Greek debt sustainable till 2032. At that time, one can reasonably expect another kick of the can down the road. Unfortunately, the automatic adjustment mechanism for debt repayments envisaged in the French proposals and an IMF statement about the sustainability of the Greek debt that could have given a substantial boost to Greece’s prospects in the capital markets are missing. Most importantly, the restructuring of the debt was not accompanied by a decrease in the required high primary surpluses that are likely to hinder the growth prospects of the Greek economy.
The strengthening of the country’s cash buffer is welcome. However, unlike what is often heard, the real success of Greece will come if the cash buffer remains intact and the country covers her financing needs in the international capital markets at reasonable interest rates.”