Athens Digest 15.02.2019

• With eye on elections, parties mull results after vote on Constitution

• Banks, government reach agreement on property protection

• Re-exports banned for dozens of drugs amid fears of shortages

# Lawmakers have selected articles in the Greek Constitution for revision, ushering in potentially major changes as well as a new round of mistrust between the two leading political parties. MPs backed with a super majority a proposal to avoid general elections if a parliament vote for the election of the country’s president is deadlocked. But they rejected his direct election by popular vote.
Yesterday’s result must be confirmed in another vote next month. If so, the next parliament _after the upcoming general elections_ may submit and approve a new legislation with a simple majority needed (151), But New Democracy has openly questioned the government’s commitment to that reform ahead of the parliament confirmation vote, next month. A Conservatives’ proposal to allow non state owned universities was voted down.

# Major banks and the government reached agreement last night on new guidelines on property protection with the deadline for the changes fast approaching. According to multiple reports in the Greek news media, the new guidelines lower the maximum value of primary homes that can be awarded protection to EUR 250,000 from EUR 280,000 _ with remaining principal capped at EUR 130,000. Relief measures include principal and rate cuts, as well repayment extensions.

# Drug authorities in Greece have issued a temporary ban on the export of dozens of drugs under the parallel pharmaceutical trading, fearing shortages in the local market. The National Organisation for Medicines, EOF, issued the ban for 77 drugs to be sold on the parallel market that re-exports medicines within the European Union to exploit price difference between countries. EOF said the ban was temporary and would be lifted when market conditions return to normal. Parallel drug exports have raised concerns in the past in Greece were drug prices are relatively low.

On our Radar: ‘Blue Homeland’ 
Turkey and Greece are working out a mechanism to avoid a military accident, but tension in the region is not going away any time soon. Turkey is preparing to hold its largest ever naval exercises, the 10-day ‘Blue Homeland’ manoeuvres starting on February 27 with support from the other branches of the armed forces. Bloomberg wrote that the exercises are being held as Turkey appears determined to stop what it sees a unilateral moves to develop oil-and-gas exploration by Greece and Cyprus. At the same time, according to reports, ExxonMobil is going to announce a large discovery of gas reserve in plot 10 of Cyprus’s Exclusive Economic Zone, next week.