27-08-2018 | EYE ON GREECE | EU

27-08-2018 | EYE ON GREECE |

Monday, August 27, 2018

Tsipras promises higher monthly wage scale, return of collective bargain agreements

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras continued his late summer “political offensive” from another island on Friday, this time from the central Cyclades isle of Syros, speaking on the occasion of the resumption of work at a local shipyards recently acquired by a US-based and Greek-American controlled company.

https://www.naftemporiki.gr/story/1384485/tsipras-promises-higher-monthly-wage-scale-return-of-collective-bargain-agreements

Isle of Hydra without power, water supply on Sun.

The popular Saronic Gulf island of Hydra remained without electricity and water supply for much of Sunday, the last weekend in the high season tourism month of August. The interruption was blamed on a malfunction at a mainland substation the town of Kranidi.

https://www.naftemporiki.gr/story/1384885/isle-of-hydra-without-power-water-supply-on-sun

Release of convicted executive in major embezzlement case, pay-for-hire murder attempt generates sharp reactions

Another high-profile release of an infamous inmate in Greece, this time on health reasons, generated a firestorm of reactions and criticism on Friday, as a 39-year-old man serving felony convictions for fraud and moral complicity in an attempted assassination was set free.

https://www.naftemporiki.gr/story/1384650/release-of-convicted-executive-in-major-embezzlement-case-pay-for-hire-murder-attempt-generates-sharp-reactions

Rouvikonas attacks business HQ in north Athens

Members of the Rouvikonas anti-establishment group attacked the headquarters of the Mytilineos business group in northern Athens on Saturday night and went on to post a video of the operation online.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/232028/article/ekathimerini/news/rouvikonas-attacks-business-hq-in-north-athens

Former Kurdish MP from Turkey to appeal for asylum in Greece

A former MP for the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) in Turkey has expressed her intention to apply for asylum in Greece.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/231985/article/ekathimerini/news/former-kurdish-mp-from-turkey-to-appeal-for-asylum-in-greece

Greeks were poorer, prices remained high in 2017

Though Greece slipped to 24th place on the list of the wealthiest countries in the European Union in 2017 from 14th a decade ago, it remains the 19th dearest state in the bloc, data from a Eurostat report on prices for consumer goods and services showed on Friday.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/232008/article/ekathimerini/business/greeks-were-poorer-prices-remained-high-in-2017

Profit-taking pushes Greek stocks lower

Greek stocks posted losses on the Athens stock exchange on Friday as traders cashed in on the gains of the two previous sessions, during which the general index rose 3.69 percent.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/232000/article/ekathimerini/business/profit-taking-pushes-greek-stocks-lower

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SUNDAY PAPERS

KATHIMERINI: The Memorandum is gone, over-taxation remains

TO VIMA: Tsipras is hostage to hatred and division

REAL NEWS: Spy games in the Aegean Sea

PROTO THEMA: The government ‘bows down’ on the pension cuts issue

AVGI: The next day is here

MONDAY PAPERS:

ETHNOS: Three scenarios for the pension cuts

TA NEA: The government is ‘incorruptible’ only as far as statements are concerned

EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: They want to cause chaos during the upcoming Thessaloniki International Fair

KONTRA NEWS: Businessmen, bankers and kickbacks-taking politicians to be prosecuted

DIMOKRATIA: New bomb regarding the pension system explodes!

NAFTEMPORIKI: How funds are pricing red loans

In memoriam: Toomas Hendrik Ilves, the former president of Estonia, remembers “the greatest transatlanticist of the post-Cold-War era” — John McCain. “It would be easy to write off McCain’s passionate support of the countries in Europe that freed themselves from communist rule as simply a response to his own nearly six-year ordeal in prisoner of war camps in Vietnam, to the torture inflicted upon him in violation of the Geneva Conventions. But that was not John.”

OETTINGER’S BASTA: “We should correct the figures,” EU Budget Commissioner Günther Oettinger told me, referring to the Italian government’s claim that it gives “€20 billion” annually to the EU (and to its threat to pull payments if countries don’t accommodate its demands on migration). “It’s not €20 billion a year. Italy pays in €14, 15, 16 billion a year. If you take into account what they get out of the EU budget, that leaves a net contribution of €3 billion a year,” Oettinger said. “€20 billion is a travesty.”

The EU itself isn’t allowed take up debt, Oettinger said pointedly. “We have to finance our daily expenses through daily income,” he said. “And also for the expenditure we are spending in Italy, on cohesion programs, on research and infrastructure — think of the Brenner Base Tunnel — one look at the treaty is enough: the member states have committed themselves, and it’s not us who have forced them, to pay on time for the EU’s expenditure.”

Pay for play: “Nobody likes to pay. But if you order, you have to pay,” Oettinger said. “And the member states have ordered and are ultimately the beneficiaries of European budget policy. That’s why we expect their payments to come.”

Alert, not alarmed: Oettinger also had a response to Rome’s threat to veto the next budget framework if the EU doesn’t accommodate Italy’s migration demands. “We take note of this, but have no intention of reacting on a daily basis,” he said. “We’d have a lot of work to do if we did.”

Confessional: “Until two years ago, Europe gave too little support to Italy in its geographical responsibility to receive refugees,” Oettinger admitted. “But the Commission has been doing what is within our means, our resources and money to support Italy ever since. In addition, following the last European Council, we have been coordinating the reception of refugees, boat after boat, between the member states in order to come to voluntary solutions based on solidarity. That is why Italy and its administration have a partner in us,” he said.

Don’t politicize human rights: “What is clear is that the refugee convention and human rights apply to people and are therefore indivisible,” Oettinger said. “At sea, one is obliged to help. This must apply to everyone, especially to a country with Italy’s rich culture.” That’s what the Italian judiciary is saying too: League leader and Interior Minister Matteo Salvini is being investigated for his decision not to let more than 170 migrants disembark from a coast guard ship.

WONDROUS ALPBACH 

HISTORY IN THE MAKING: Aleksandar Vučić, president of Serbia, and Hashim Thaçi, president of Kosovo, both vowed at an Alpbach forum panel on Saturday to find a way to end their conflict and agree on a historic peace settlement. “Kosovo is determined to reach a binding legal agreement with Serbia. The time to do this is now,” Thaçi said. “And we have a short window of opportunity. It is not easy at all; it is very, very difficult. That’s why everybody has to be behind it.” More here from Andrew Gray and Ryan Heath.

Of war and peace: Vučić told reporters at a press conference Sunday that “frozen conflicts can’t last forever” — because “someone one day will de-freeze it, and then we’ll have war.” The stakes are high, both for the two nations — Vučić admitted that any solution will be “painful for both sides” — and for European politicians, who are concerned about possible instability that any border changes between Serbia and Kosovo could spark. “We need the stability of the whole region,” European Commissioner Johannes Hahn said. “This is where the international community needs your reassurance.”

Vučić and Thaçi know war. They were on opposite sides of the 1998-99 war that ended Serb control of Kosovo. Despite the old hostility remaining — Vučić told the Alpach audience that Thaçi didn’t like him and that “I don’t like him at all” — they performed something of a double act in Tyrol, to the honest surprise of other key players (and yours truly, who had the pleasure of chairing Saturday’s panel).

Side note: Of course, who else but two strongmen with some influence over their electorate could get this sort of change across the line? Vučić modestly downplayed their chances of success: “I’m not certain that Serbian people will support an arrangement but we’ll do our best.” Commissioner Hahn praised Vučić’s pointed pessimism as a good thing for expectations management.

Next steps: Van der Bellen showed his grandfatherly side and advised his friends from the Balkans to ignore a general (and my personal) curiosity about what exactly a deal could look like. But as a facilitator of the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina, the Commission will want to know how the sausage is being made in order to avoid walking into a diplomatic trap. It won’t want to try to sell a deal to EU countries and the world if it doesn’t understand it in its most granular detail. Both Serbia and Kosovo said it was absolutely crucial to get the EU behind any agreement. For that, the Commission needs “institutional guarantees,” as Hahn said — while the EU may trust Vučić and Thaçi, who knows how long they’ll be at the helms of their respective countries.

The hardest sell … may well be to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who earlier this month knocked back the mere idea of Balkan border changes.

AROUND THE EU

WHAT LITHUANIANS ARE TALKING ABOUT— #WHYNOTSWASTIKA: Walmart’s hammer-and-sickle T-shirts aren’t exactly flying off the shelves in the Baltics. (H/t Ryan Heath)

RACE FOR THE MOST IMPORTANT JOB IN EU BANKING: Paul Taylor highlights in his latest Europe at Large column what’s at stake in choosing the next head of the European Central Bank’s Single Supervisory Mechanism.

BREXIT — WON’T ANYONE THINK OF THE DATA? Maintaining the free flow of data between Britain and the EU is vital after Brexit, Mark Scott writes. So why is nobody talking about it?

No-deal Brexit will break up the UK, warns ex-Council President Herman Van Rompuy.

SWEDEN — FEAR AND LOATHING ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL: Divisive and deliberately provocative, the far-right Sweden Democrats (SD) are shaking things up ahead of a September 9 general election, reports Charlie Duxbury.

FRANCE — MACRON TO TARGET WELFARE SPENDING IN NEXT WAVE OF REFORMS, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe told Le Journal du Dimanche.

AROUND THE WORLD

ANOTHER MASS SHOOTING IN THE US: A gunman killed two people and wounded several on Sunday when he opened fire at a video game tournament in Jacksonville, Florida. More from Reuters.

NEW AUSSIE PM PAYS PRICE FOR COUP: The first Newspoll since Malcolm Turnbull was deposed from the Australian prime ministership by his own party is out, and it ain’t pretty for the ruling Coalition government. Support for the Liberal-National tie-up has crashed to its lowest level in a decade, with new Prime Minister Scott Morrison now behind opposition Labor Party leader Bill Shorten as preferred prime minister. On a two-party preferred basis, Labor now leads 56 percent to 44 percent, up from 51 to 49 two weeks ago. It seems voters don’t much like it when the prime ministers they elect are executed by their own parties. Whoever could have seen that one coming? More from the Guardian.