Athens Digest 20.06.2019

• Greece seeking help from EU leaders over Turkey spat

• Mitsotakis to meet Merkel over East Med tension

• Juncker: The Greek lesson learned

• Piraeus Bank secures capital boost with Tier II bond issue

# In Brusselsthe European leaders are expected to discuss discuss Turkey’s current illegal drilling activities in the eastern Mediterranean. The European Council is expected to call on Turkey to show restraint, respect the sovereign rights of Cyprus and refrain from any such actions. The Greek and Cypriot governments are pushing their EU allies to take a tougher position against Turkey’s decision to drill for natural gas in an offshore area controlled by Cyprus. Before traveling to the EU meetings, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras warned Ankara that any effort to drill in Greece’s exclusive economic zone would be actively thwarted. “Turkey won’t do it. We won’t let Erdogan drill in the Greek EEZ. Greece has a deterrence plan and will not step back from it,” he told Open TV.

# Opposition leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis says he will hold talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel at a meeting of the European People’s Party in Brussels to press conservative leaders to back sanctions against Turkey. “The issue concerns Europe because it has an energy policy, it wants to expand its energy sources to the Eastern Mediterranean, so what is happening in the EEZ is of direct concern,” he told Star TV. He urged the government and main political parties to leave the dispute with Turkey out of election campaign confrontations.

# “Failure to give more independence to Eurostat was a major mistake. Would we have done the right thing, we would never have experienced the Greek crisis as we did,” Jean-Claude Juncker said at an event organised by the European Central Bank to mark 20 years of the Economic and Monetary Union. “The (Greek) government admitted that official statistics had misrepresented the real debt and deficit figures for years (…) The truth is that Eurostat had sent 10 delegations to Athens with a view to improving the reliability of Greek statistics from 2004 to 2010. However, Member States had been resisting tighter EU rules on statistics for years,” he stressed. “This is why I push for intergovernmental solutions inherited from the crisis years to be incorporated into the institutional framework of the European Union over time,” Juncker added.

# Piraeus Bank has announced that it successfully priced EUR 400 million of Tier 2 10NC5 subordinated capital securities, placed in the international debt capital markets, increasing its total capital ratio by c.90bps. Total orderbook was managed by Goldman Sachs International and UBS Investment Bank and reached some EUR 850 million. “This is the first public Tier 2 issuance by a Greek bank since 2008. The high level of investor demand is a clear vote of confidence from the market in the overall progress we have made at Piraeus Bank,” CEO Christos Megalou said. More than 135 investors from more than 20 countries participated in the transaction.

On our Radar: Balkan Plea 
Former foreign ministers of Greece, Cyprus, Albania, and Bulgaria have expressed disappointment at a delay by the European Union to start accession negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania. In a joint statement, former foreign ministers Nikos Kotzias of Greece, Ditmir Bushati of Albania, Daniel Mitov of Bulgaria, and Ioannis Kasoulides of Cyprus argued that the talks should start immediately. “Despite being arguably the EU’s most successful transformational policy, never before has enlargement policy been the subject of so much ambivalence within the EU,” they wrote.  “The socioeconomic growth of Albania and North Macedonia in their path towards EU accession will decisively contribute to stability, security and the development of a democratic statehood, justice and freedom of press in both of these countries.”