Athens Digest 14.02.2019

• Valentine’s Day vote for Constitutional change

• Greece, Turkey return to 30-year-old peace blueprint

• New Democracy: Macedonia name deal ‘damaging’ but binding

# Lawmakers will hold their first major vote on revising Greece’s constitution this morning, following a three-day debate dominated by political calculation. Parliament will vote on which proposals from the two largest political parties to accept for review and submit them for a two-round approval process: with a vote on each amendment to be held before and after the next election. Syriza is seeking changes to parliament voting rules for the President of the Republic, while New Democracy is also pressing to end a state monopoly on higher education. Voting alliances between political parties are based on possible outcomes produced by this year’s general election. If a proposal gets 180 votes (super majority) in the upcoming vote, then it will only need to be approved by 151 MPs (simple majority) in the next parliament. In such case, the next government is may avoid a potential collapse due to the vote for President in early 2020.

# Greek and Turkish defence ministers, Evangelos Apostolakis and Hulusi Akar, held talks in Brussels on the sidelines of a North Atlantic Council meeting at NATO Headquarters and agreed to return to a 30-year-old roadmap aimed at avoiding accidental armed conflict in times of tension. The guidelines were hammered out in 1988 – months after the two countries had come to the brink of conflict – by then foreign ministers Mesut Yilmaz of Turkey and Karolos Papoulias of Greece. The measures include, providing advance notice of planned military activity in the Aegean Sea, and instructions to air force pilots to avoid actions that could be considered hostile when using international air space. Apostolakis also met with Radmila Sekerinska, the defence minister of North Macedonia, and promised support from Greece for the country’s integration into NATO.

# Billboards at the border were covered up yesterday with large adhesive banners reading “Republic of North Macedonia” as the name-change agreement with Greece officially took effect. In Athens, New Democracy spokeswoman Maria Spyraki conceded that the party, while opposing the deal, would observe the new name. “The agreement is damaging for the national interest and it is damaging not because of the compromise reached on the name issue  but because on the same piece of paper, there is the recognition of a Macedonian identity and a Macedonian language,” she told state TV. “Those are vital issues for us. But clearly, when we are referring to the neighbouring country, and when I see Nikola Dimitrov in Brussels, he will be referred to as the Foreign Minister of North Macedonia.”

On our Radar: Sticking with Tradition 
Greeks’ love affair with coffee is going strong. Greek coffee (once known as Turkish coffee) remains the country’s favourite, according to a consumer survey by Alco _  preferred by 32 percent of coffee drinkers. That’s followed by espresso at 25 percent, cappuccino (17%), iced coffee or frappe (12%), instant (8%) and filter at just 6 percent. The results also showed that 42 percent drink up to two coffees a day, 32 percent stick to a single cup, 20 percent have three and, 6 percent have four or more. Greeks have cut down on spending but still buy coffee at cafes regularly. The overall weekly expense on coffee broke down as: up to EUR 5 for 41 percent, EUR 6-10 for  35 percent, EUR 11-20 for 15 percent, and more than EUR 21 for 9 percent of consumers.