Athens Digest 25.07.2018

• Fire death toll rises as rescuers check charred homes

• EU’s Stylianides in Athens as firefighting aid arrives

• Fire-stricken to get tax relief

• Credit standards unchanged in Q2

• Frontier cooperation: Greece, FYROM ready gas grid link

# Flags flew at half-mast over parliament and the Acropolis as Greece declared three days of mourning and the death toll from fires outside Athens continued to rise. Rescuers checked damaged homes at Mati, the scene of the worst destruction, and found more bodies, bring the number of casualties to 74 dead, injured to 164, with many still missing on land and at sea.

# EU countries have committed additional resources to help Greek firefighters under the bloc’s civil protection mechanism. Spain sent two water-dropping planes and Cyprus sent 60 firefighters. Help was also offered by Israel, Turkey, FYROM, Bulgaria, Romania, Croatia, Italy and Germany. EU Commissioner Christos Stylianides arrived in Athens, after the protection mechanism was activated.

# The government has announced an initial set of measures to support victims of this week’s forest fires. Primary needs are expected to be settled with a budget of some EUR 20 million to be transferred to an account of the Ministry of the Interior. Further, this year’s property tax (ENFIA) has been postponed for owners of affected properties.

# In the second quarter of 2018, credit standards and terms and conditions for loans to non-financial corporations (NFCs) remained broadly unchanged compared with the first quarter of 2018 _ in line with expectations expressed in the previous quarterly survey round. Moreover, banks expect that credit standards will remain broadly unchanged during the third quarter of 2018, although credit standards for long-term loans will tighten to a certain extent. You may find the Lending Survey (BLS) here.

# Greek gas network operator DESFA and MER Skopje, FYROM’s energy resources utilization corporation, have the ambitious aim of connecting the two countries’ gas grids. Last week, MER officials visited DESFA installations in northern Greece. They attended presentations on the operation and maintenance of the installations as well as the management of the natural gas pipeline construction projects.

On Our Radar: Solidarity
Over time, the state response to natural disasters in Greece has not always proven to be well organized. The mayor of fire-stricken Rafina lost his home in the blaze and noted that evacuation orders had not been given. But he paid tribute to support shown from across the capital, asking Athens residents to hold off on food donations because too much had been given. Across the city, donors waited patiently at public hospitals to give blood needed for the fire relief effort. Solidarity: Just something we’d like to point out in today’s radar.