Athens Digest 19.11.2018

• Greek banking system in need of a further boost, analyst says

• Collection of social security arrears bolstered by seizure of bank accounts

• Student uprising anniversary marred by street clashes in Athens, Thessaloniki

# The Greek banking system will require a further boost, despite the progress that has been made, due to its extremely high levels of NPLs, according to Professor Emilios Avgouleas, a chair in International Banking Law and Finance at the University of Edinburgh. Speaking to Athens Digest’s John Papageorgiou, he said that there will be no need to draw money from the cash buffer, he said as “there are EUR 10 billion in the ESM that are lying dormant.” Part of this amount could be used as collateral by the Greek state to deal with NPLs, he maintained, adding that Greece should try to negotiate an extension to the time frame to reduce NPLs. Last week, Yannis Stournaras, the central bank governor, briefed senior executives from Greece’s four leading banks and Attica Bank on plans to speed up the reduction on non-performing loans exposures.

# Revenues of the Center for the Collection of Social Security Arrears (KEAO) have shot up to EUR 1.15 billion in the first ten months of the year, and are expected to beat the target of EUR 1.2bn for 2018. The collection of money has relied heavily on the seizure of bank accounts. Projections for 2019 are even higher at EUR 1.5bn. KEAO seeks to collect debts to the tune of EUR 800mn owed to social security funds since 2016.

# Six people have been prosecuted out of 19 people that were arrested during clashes on Saturday night in Athens and Thessaloniki between self-styled anarchists and riot police. Among those arrested was a 28-year-old member of the Rouvikonas anti- establishment group and four foreign nationals. The clashes erupted after the end of events commemorating the November 17 student uprising in 1973 against Greece’s military dictatorship. Rioters destroyed sidewalks and erected barricades in the streets around the National Technical University of Athens and the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki.

On Our Radar: Turkish intentions in the East Med
With drilling operations having started last week by Exxon/Mobil in plot 10 of Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone, the Kathimerini newspaper said yesterday that is has seen Turkish maps that essentially redraw the maritime boundaries in the Eastern Mediterranean. More specifically, the delineations on the maps only take into consideration Turkey and the mainlands of other countries facing its shores – disregarding the islands in between, such as Cyprus and the Greek isles of Rhodes, Karpathos and Crete. According to Greek diplomatic sources yesterday, the maps are nothing new and contain known Turkish claims. The maps suggest that any country in the region that wants to delineate its maritime borders would have to consult with Turkey first.