Athens Digest 09.10.2019

• Greece’s raises EUR 1.5 billion on record low-interest bond

Budget differences narrowed with institutions, Greek officials say

Parliament backs probe against top former justice official

Tusk, Stoltenberg head to Athens

# Greece has raised EUR 1.5 billion after reopening a 10-year bond issue to exploit historically-low interest rates. The yield from the latest market exit was just 1.5 percent _ marking a significant improvement from the previous round in March when EUR 2.5 billion was raised at 3.9 percent. The auction was reportedly five times oversubscribed.

# Greek sources say that differences between Athens and institutions over the 2020 Budget fiscal gap have been narrowed in ongoing negotiations without considering the implementation of a tax case closure. The fiscal gap had been seen as a potential sticking point between the two sides ahead of the October 15 submission deadline for euro area members.

# Parliament has voted to set up an investigative committee to examine the role of the powerful former deputy minister Dimitris Papangelopoulos in the Novartis pharmaceutical scandal. In a post-midnight ballot, lawmakers voted 172-84 in favour of the probe into whether Papangelopoulos as part of the previous leftwing government acted unlawfully against political rivals in implicating them in bribery allegations. Papangelopoulos, a 68-year-old former top prosecutor and intelligence service chief, angrily denied the charges while speaking in parliament, describing the probe as “wretched and absurd.” Ten politicians were initially implicated in the investigation into whether Swiss drugmaker Novartis paid bribes to boost prices and public health care use of its products. The politicians include former prime minister Antonis Samaras, the outgoing EU Home Affairs Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos, and Bank of Greece governor Yannis Stournaras. All vehemently denied any involvement.

On our Radar: Tusk, Stoltenberg head to Athens 
European Council President Donald Tusk is due to speak in the Greek capital today at the annual Athens Democracy Forum. Tusk travels to Athens a day after taking aim at British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, accusing him of deliberately backing unworkable proposals to avoid an 11th hour Brexit deal.
Jens Stoltenberg, the NATO Secretary General, meanwhile, is due in Athens tomorrow and will meet President Prokopis Pavlopoulos and Prime Minister Mitsotakis. He is also traveling to Rome today and Istanbul on Friday, as the alliance grapples with Turkey’s expected military push into northern Syria and its internationally-condemned drilling activities of the northern coast of Cyprus.