Athens Digest 22.04.2019

• State arrears to private sector continue to rise

• Bank of Greece: Current account deficit slashed in February

• Northern Greek club PAOK crowned champions after 34-year wait

# Finance Ministry figures released last week showed that the state’s outstanding debts to the private sector rose in February for a second consecutive month. More specifically, the general government’s arrears rose by EUR 104.7 million, climbing to EUR 1,669 billion from EUR1.578 billion in January. Moreover, outstanding tax refunds remained almost unchanged at EUR 480 million from EUR 488 million. Greece has committed to reduce arrears to zero according to the latest Eurogroup statement.

# According to the latest data announced by the Bank of Greece, in February 2019, the current account deficit came to EUR 990 million, down by EUR 407 million year-on-year, as a result of the improved services balance and primary income account. By contrast, the deficit of the balance of goods recorded a small increase and the secondary income account turned to a deficit, from a surplus in February 2018. The deficit of the balance of goods grew, owing to a worsening of the non-oil balance of goods, while the oil balance improved. Exports of goods rose by 10.7 percent. At the same time, imports of goods rose by 7.7 percent. The surplus of the services balance increased, mainly as a result of an improvement in the transport balance, which is mostly due to a year-on-year rise of 18.2% in net sea transport receipts.

# PAOK Salonika football club, owned by Greek-Russian oligarch Ivan Savvidis, were crowned Greek champions on Sunday for the first time in 34 years. The team from Thessaloniki, Greece’s second largest city, beat the already relegated Levadiakos 5-0 at home to wrap up the title in the penultimate round of the Greek Super League.  If PAOK do not lose their final game of the season they will become the first club to win the title undefeated since 1964.  PAOK had started the season with minus two points as punishment after Savvidis had stormed the pitch during a match last year with a gun on his hip. He is currently serving serving a three-year stadium ban for the incident.

On Our Radar: Die Welt – Why is Athens is asking for war reparations now
The German newspaper analyses the decision by Greek Parliament last Wednesday for Greece to formally seek reparations from Germany for Nazi war crimes highlighting that Poland is also making similar demands. It added that Berlin, which says the question has been conclusively settled, will reject a note verbale that Greece intends to send it. According to the article, this could potentially open a case in the Hague Court of Justice, as some legal experts say.