Athens Digest 22.10.2018

• PM Tsipras sworn in as FM, lauds FYROM House approval of name deal

• Kammenos suggests MPs were paid off to vote for Macedonia agreement

• Conservatives maintain steady lead over Syriza in nationwide poll

• Piraeus Bank signs multi-million deal with Thomas Cook Hotel Investments

• Tsitsipas wins Greece’s first ever ATP crown in Stockholm

# Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras was sworn in as foreign minister on Saturday after the resignation last week of Nikos Kotzias due to a clash with Panos Kammenos, the leader of the coalition’s junior partner, the Independent Greeks (ANEL) over the Macedonia name deal. During the handover, both Tsipras and Kotzias expressed satisfaction with the successful vote on Friday night by the parliament of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to amend its constitution so that the Balkan nation can change its name.

# Meanwhile Kammenos, a staunch opponent of the agreement, reiterated his party’s decision to remain in the coalition until it goes to Greek parliament. Referring to Friday’s vote in FYROM, Kammenos suggested that lawmakers in FYROM were bribed to approve the deal. “Who would have thought that in the Europe of values and democracy those who vote against the orders they are given are imprisoned and those who comply get a EUR 2 million bonus in black money,” he tweeted. FYROM’s government accused Kammenos of peddling fake news.

# Despite opposition to the deal from Kammenos, ruling Syriza has received support from other MPs. On Saturday, the independent lawmaker and former general secretary for public revenues Haris Theocharis said in an interview with the Athens News Agency: “Since the changes made to the constitution clarify what is obvious, that the Slavic language and the Slavic people have nothing to do with Greek history and Alexander the Great, then the agreement is indeed in the interest of the country and I could vote for it.” On the other hand, he denied he is in talks to join Syriza.

# Conservative New Democracy (ND) has a 9.7 point lead over governing Syriza according to a nationwide survey conducted by ‘Rass” on behalf of Action24 TV. More specifically, 30.4-percent of respondents said they would vote for ND against 20.7-percent for Syriza. Center-left KINAL got 9.8-percent, ahead of extreme right Golden Dawn with 7.4-percent and communist KKE with 7.2-percent. Junior coalition partner ANEL was below the 3-percent threshold to enter Parliament with 2.1 percent. A previous poll by Rass in September gave ND a 9.5 point lead.

# Piraeus Bank has signed a financing agreement of EUR40 million with Thomas Cook Hotel Investments (TCHI), a joint venture between Thomas Cook plc and LMEY Investments AG. Piraeus Bank is the sole financial partner of TCHI in Greece and the financing will be used to invest in local hotel properties.

# Stefanos Tsitsipas became the first Greek to win an ATP crown after winning the Stockholm Open yesterday. The 20-year-old beat Latvia’s Ernests Gulbis in straight sets 6-4, 6-4. Tsitsipas, who was ranked 16th going into the tournament, is the youngest player in the ATP’s top 20.

On Our Radar: Chinese plans at Piraeus port take on political dimension in light of US-China trade war
COSCO’s ambitious plans at Piraeus, one of Europe’s largest ports, do not only seek to carve out new trade routes to the West but have a political dimension as well in the wake of the US-China trade war, according to Germany newspaper Handelsblatt. “The trade war that the man in the White House has declared against China gives this project weighty importance,” it said. Citing the rapid rise in container traffic from 434,000 in 2008 to 4.15 million last year, Handelsblatt described Piraeus as the world’s fastest growing port.