Athens Digest 04.02.2019

• Costello decries “disappointing” mission in Athens

• Conservative ND edging closer to majority government, poll shows

• Rubicon’s anarchists target Italian Embassy in Athens

# In the wake of last Thursday’s EWG, the EC mission chief  Declan Costello said the round of contacts completed by creditor institutions in Athens last week  was “disappointing.” According to the Sunday issue of the Kathimerini newspaper,  Costello’s bemoaned the lack of progress in “fundamental banking issues.” “The main proposals of the Greek government are missing in order to make a proper assessment,” he said, adding that the lack of a legislative framework to replace the Katselis law regarding the protection of primary residences has had a significant impact on the payment culture of Greeks. He also referred to the large unilateral increase in the minimum wage saying that “not even the Greeks experts proposed such a large increase of 11-percent.” Costello also noted that progress was “not good” with regard to the list of the prior actions Greece has committed to implement and that there is still much to be done.

# A new poll published on Saturday showed  main opposition New Democracy (ND) edging closer to forming a majority government and predicted a five party Parliament after elections. More specifically, the poll by Metron Analysis – conducted after the ratification by Greek Parliament of the Prespa name agreement with FYROM – gave the conservatives a 12.1 point lead over the leftist party, with 37.2 percent and  25.1 respectively. The poll, published in To Vima newspaper, also showed gains for the extreme right Golden Dawn party which came in third with 9.1-percent.  The centrist KINAL alliance was in fourth with 7-percent ahead of the Communist party (KKE) with 6.1-percent. A new far-right entry, the “Greek Solution” party got 2.8-percent, very close to the  3-percent threshold to enter Parliament while the Union of Centrists  was on 2.7-percent.

# The Italian Embassy in central Athens was targeted yesterday by members of anarchist group “Rouvikonas” (Rubicon) who threw paint at the walls before taking flight. According to reports , the incident occurred shortly after 5.30 p.m. and at least 12 people had been  detained. The group claimed responsibility for the incident in a post on anti-establishment website. Rouvikonas has earned notoriety for targeting state offices, foreign embassies and private businesses.

On Our Radar: Tsipras to meet Erdogan in Ankara
Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is due to meet with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan tomorrow in Ankara, at the start of his two-day visit to Turkey. The agenda will include bilateral relations and exploratory talks on a possible new peace push for war-divided Cyprus. Tsipras is also expected to raise the issue of Turkish overflights in the Aegean. Media reports suggested that Greek diplomats do not have particularly high hopes and that Athens is concerned over Turkey’s activities in the Eastern Mediterranean near Cyprus. Last week Erdogan said   Ankara will continue to pursue people it accuses of taking part in the failed coup attempt in 2016 – including the eight servicemen Greece has refused to extradite. Tsipras is scheduled to meet on Wednesday with Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomaios.