Athens Digest 09.05.2019

• Creditors cautious on handout package

• Attacks turn personal at pre-election debate in parliament

• Italy’s PM halts Poseidon pipeline at Greek shore

• A throw into the record books

# European institutions wrapped up their three-day enhanced surveillance monitoring trip to Greece, expressing caution over the pre-election handout package announced by the prime minister. “We’ll need some more in-depth discussions with Greek authorities on what exactly they have in mind,” European Commission Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis told Bloomberg, and stressed that is important to stick with agreed post-program fiscal targets. The mission staff in a statement added: “The mission took note of the announcement of new measures, which will be assessed with a view to compliance with agreed fiscal targets and consistency with Greece’s post-programme commitments to the Eurogroup.” The European instituitions are expected to include their comments on the measures in Greece’s third Enhanced Surveillance report which will be released in early June, after the European elections.

# In a bad-tempered confrontation marked by frequent personal attacks, Prime Minister Tsipras and Kyriakos Mitsotakis, the opposition leader, squared off at the start of a three-day debate in parliament. The government has called a confidence vote, countering a censure motion against Deputy Health Minister Pavlos Polakis, backed by New Democracy. The vote, held less than three weeks before the European elections, is due tomorrow night. Given the relevant procedure, the government is not expected to face difficulties conforming the parliament’s confidence.

# Plans by Greece’s DEPA and Italian energy firm Edison to build an undersea pipeline connecting the two countries that could bring Russian natural gas to western Europe have been halted by the Italian government. The final stage of the Poseidon gas pipeline would connect northwest Greece to the south Italian port of Otranto. “The government is certainly not interested at present in building the final tract of Poseidon as originally planned,” Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte was quoted as saying by Reuters. The United States is urging western governments to give the distribution of Russian gas a lower priority and allow other suppliers to challenge Russia’s dominance.

On our Radar: Historic Throw
It was at a national championship in Crete in 1982 when Sofia Sakorafa threw 74.20 meters and shocked the sporting world for a world record in the women’s javelin competition. She went on to have a career in sport and later in politics and became a left-wing member of the European Parliament as well as a vocal supporter of the Palestinian cause. Thirty-seven years later, another Greek javelin thrower has made history: 16-year-old Elina Tzengko threw 65.90 meters at an under-18 tournament in Ioannina to claim a world record of her own. She beat the 65.44 m mark set by Marisleisys Duarthe of Cuba two years ago.