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  • Europe | Agora | MacroPolis
    link the refugee crisis and the pending bailout review Read more 0 Comments Categories Greece 229 Politics 155 Europe 104 2 Mar 2016 The refugee crisis and the beast within By Nick Malkoutzis As symbols go the imaginary pig s head in William Golding s Lord of the Flies requires little explanation Its meaning is summed up in one line of the unnerving classic Fancy thinking the beast was something you could hunt and kill says the fly infested head You knew didn t you I m part of you Read more 0 Comments Categories Society 29 Greece 229 Europe 104 4 Feb 2016 Search for solutions not scapegoats in EU s refugee crisis By Nick Malkoutzis For some years now and especially over the last 12 months Greece has acted as Europe s lifeguard first aid provider and gravedigger It seems though that the strain of the refugee crisis means Greece s European partners also want it to serve as a prison warden Read more 0 Comments Categories Greece 229 Europe 104 15 Jan 2016 Is Regling right to be concerned about Greek liquidity By Yiannis Mouzakis In the press conference following Thursday s Eurogroup Klaus Regling the head of the European Stability Mechanism the eurozone s bailout mechanism called for the first review of Greece s third bailout to begin and conclude as quickly as possible Read more 1 Comments Categories Greece 229 Europe 104 Economy 154 1 Jan 2016 Will Tsipras ride the waves in 2016 Alexis Tsipras rode into power in 2015 on a wave of support that then threatened to engulf him He somehow managed to survive but finds himself washed up on the beach and needing to secure his footing before the next waves come crashing down Read more 0 Comments Categories Greece 229 Politics 155 Europe 104 Economy 154 23 Dec 2015 Leaving Greece s annus horribilis behind By Jens Bastian No one inside or outside Greece will easily forget 2015 With the change of government and the appointment of Alexis Tsipras from the leftist Syriza party as prime minister in late January a six month period of profound uncertainty about the future course of the country only ended when a third financial assistance programme was reluctantly agreed with international creditors in August Read more 1 Comments Categories Greece 229 Politics 155 Europe 104 Economy 154 21 Dec 2015 No one has won in Spain By JM Martí Font Spain is not Portugal although we cannot completely rule it out Brussels and Frankfurt want Spain to look like Germany Read more 0 Comments Categories Politics 155 Europe 104 14 Dec 2015 Regling and Wieser The key points Two of the key participants in Greece s financing programme the European Stability Mechanism s Klaus Regling and the head of the Eurogroup Working Group Thomas Wieser gave interviews to two Greek Sunday newspapers in which they covered a wide range of issues relating to the latest developments in Greece Read more 0 Comments Categories Greece

    Original URL path: http://www.macropolis.gr/?i=portal.en.the-agora&c=5 (2016-04-27)
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  • Tsipras and the IMF: Another miscalculation? | MacroPolis
    to have the matter resolved given that the latest EU deal with Turkey and the closure of the borders effectively forced Greece to shoulder the refugees crisis on its own triggering a humanitarian crisis in the country Velculescu is also surprised that the refugees crisis did not act as the event that would accelerate matters and even wishes for the sake of Greeks that the discussions do happen soon at which point Thomsen suggests that the eurozone is just leading Greece on simply because there is nothing to force a decision Thomsen argues that the discussions could go on forever until eurozone leaders decide that there needs to be an agreement that will include both primary surplus targets and debt relief Velculescu believes that although politically it is difficult for Greece to fully deliver what the IMF wants for the 2 5 percent of fiscal measures the Greek government has given already enough ground from its original position Thomsen stresses that if there is a solid package of austerity that adds up to the 2 5 percent then the IMF would support the Greek side At that point Velculescu makes explicit the division in the troika which is obvious enough for the Greek side to try to use to its advantage and deliver less than what would satisfy the IMF since it knows the European Commission would go softer on Athens Velulescu also challenges the IMF strategy in the negotiations which have left it with little room to maneuver She believes that they should have agreed with the Commission a set of measures that would have been much worse and present to Greece as the minimum the IMF would be willing to consider a strategy that is believed to have been followed in the past when the troika was in unison Nothing new Overall there is nothing in this exchange that justifies Tsipras s assertions What was stated by the IMF officials is nothing but the obvious and in keeping with what those following the crisis were already aware of The way the eurozone has managed this crisis is to take lots of little steps before a major event forced it into sudden action to avoid a disaster It happened in the case of Greece for Ireland for Cyprus Spain the EFSF the ESM OMT the so called banking union and QE There is nothing in the WikiLeaks transcript that suggests the IMF is planning to engineer an event that would lead Greece to near default If anything it appears that the IMF was hoping the refugee crisis would act as catalyst for a decision which also counters the argument that it is playing delaying tactics It is no secret that the IMF and Thomsen in particular think that in order for Greece to reach the 3 5 percent of GDP target it will require massive fiscal effort in the volume of 8 5 to 9 billion euros or 4 5 percent of GDP He actually blogged about this roughly

    Original URL path: http://www.macropolis.gr/?i=portal.en.the-agora.3847 (2016-04-27)
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  • A misstep away from absurdity | MacroPolis
    tried to fulfil his role with any professionalism Also SYRIZA has maintained a much more conciliatory position on the name issue than other Greek parties and Tsipras s government has made efforts since last year to strengthen ties with Skopje including through confidence building measures One of his ministers letting slip the word Macedonia in an interview should never be a sackable offence in a Tsipras government if the prime minister has any regard for his beliefs Perhaps realising that they had overreacted to a relatively innocuous infringement by Mouzalas who after all is not a politician Mitsotakis and Kammenos attempted to bolster their cases by accusing the migration policy minister of having made other gaffes and failing to tackle the refugee crisis effectively Kammenos s criticism though may have been motivated by his personal dispute with Mouzalas who had in the past blamed the defence minister for failing to cooperate in the preparation of reception centres for arriving refugees and migrants Mitsotakis focussed his criticism on the dire conditions at the Idomeni camp on Greece s border with FYROM which he visited briefly this week and the apparent absence of the state from such facilities However this issue was addressed by Mouzalas in the Skai TV interview that prompted all of this week s kerfuffle It is doubtful though that any of his critics watched beyond the first few minutes when the M word was uttered He explained that the government did not create a proper camp at Idomeni because of legal complications linked to its status as a border area and informal crossing into FYROM and because authorities were concerned that a full blown facility would create a pull factor for refugees This led to Greek authorities asking the UNHCR and other NGOs to provide basic amenities for the refugees who gather there and for the state to remain on the sidelines as much as possible The minister also explained that the authorities are trying to complete other facilities to which the refugees at Idomeni can move but that many of them are refusing to do so because they fear they will miss their chance to cross the border when according to their hopes it will reopen This is something that is backed up by the numerous reports from journalists who have visited the camp Mouzalas and his actions have been far from faultless since he took the job last August To his credit he openly acknowledges the errors that have been made Also there must be questions about whether the government has failed to maintain the appropriate balance in terms of the state s presence in Idomeni and at other camps The absence of police officers soldiers and other state officials may help in the sense that professionals with experience of managing humanitarian crises unlike Greek authorities are given the space to do their job However a complete retreat also allows things to get out of control as was the case on Monday when hundreds of refugees

    Original URL path: http://www.macropolis.gr/?i=portal.en.the-agora.3805 (2016-04-27)
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  • Greek banks: Taking stock of a rough 2015 and looking at what lies ahead | MacroPolis
    the aftermath of the last round of domestic M A activity and the consequent closing of branches as well as implementation of voluntary retirement schemes Banks target further cost reduction in the next few years which has been incorporated in their updated restructuring plans They mainly aim to achieve this through further voluntary redundancies Three of the lenders Alpha NBG and Piraeus have already booked in their Q4 results the cost of the voluntary redundancy schemes they plan to be implement in 2016 Asset quality The deteriorating environment in the second half of 2015 coupled with the ECB s Asset Quality Review AQR results prompted banks tio increase their provisions for credit risk by 3 billion euros YoY to 12 85 billion in 2015 In Q4 in particular loan provisions almost tripled QoQ As a result the cumulative provisions rose by more than 9 7 billion euros to 57 9 billion at the end of 2015 from 48 2 billion a year ago The difference of around 3 billion euros between the rise in cumulative provisions and the 2015 P L provisions is largely explained by loan write offs Overall Greek banks provisions corresponded to almost a quarter of gross loans from a fifth a year ago The non performing loan NPL formation showed mixed trends in the course of 2015 It halved QoQ in Q2 than it doubled in Q3 amid capital controls and more than halved again in Q4 Overall the stock of group NPLs rose by more than 3 billion euros in the course of last year to 85 1 billion at the end of 2015 In addition the NPL ratio increased by 2 4 percentage points pp to 36 4 percent Despite the NPL rise the sharper increase in provisions led to the NPL coverage ratio improving by more than 9 pp to 68 1 percent in 2015 Both in absolute and relative terms Piraeus has the highest NPLs while NBG figures stand at the low end In addition NBG has by far the highest coverage ratio with Eurobank and Piraeus at the low end It is worth noting that Piraeus was the only bank that reported a reduction in its NPL stock last year even when stripping out Cyprus and Egypt figures that were included in its 2014 figure but not in the 2015 data The picture is different though if we look at the non performing exposure NPE where the stock reached 115 8 billion euros and the relevant ratio and coverage both stood at 50 percent Eurobank has the lowest NPE ratio 43 8 percent Alpha 51 3 percent and Piraeus 50 7 percent are at the high end Banks noted NPL formation in Q1 this year is broadly similar to that recorded in Q4 Most of them guided for a reduction in the NPL stock and ratio by the end of 2016 Following the last round of their recapitalization process last November their capital base was notably enhanced with their phased in

    Original URL path: http://www.macropolis.gr/?i=portal.en.the-agora.3796 (2016-04-27)
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  • EU-Turkey refugee plan: One for one and none for all | MacroPolis
    authorisation from Turkey to send them back Can Greece s asylum service which numbers less than 250 people cope with the load Will the Greek judicial system be able to cope with the weight of the appeals against readmission that refugees are allowed to file under local legislation If they can t Greece will be singled out not just by its EU partners but by Turkey as well as the weak link in the chain heaping more scorn on the country and strengthening calls for its isolation Then if anyone in the EU actually still cares about this kind of thing there are the moral and legal complications A series of rights groups including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have raised serious doubts about the safety and legality of sending back asylum seekers en masse to Turkey a country that neither properly recognises them as refugees since it does not fully comply with the Geneva Convention nor meets the criteria of what is considered a safe country The United Nations human rights chief Zeid Ra ad Al Hussein also warned last week that arbitrary expulsions from Greece could be illegal If any of these complications lead to the plan currently on the table unravelling in the weeks or months ahead it will undoubtedly be a major embarrassment for the EU not to mention a disaster for the refugees involved For Greece which appears to be backing the Merkel engineered scheme heartily it will be a nightmare Greece is the only one of those participating in the process that stands to lose if the mechanism breaks down If refugees are not resettled directly from Turkey Ankara can just turn a blind eye to their efforts to leave the country to reach Greece and reduces numbers that way If they arrive in Greece the countries to its north have already taken their precautions to keep flows across their borders to a minimum Albania and Bulgaria are already following the example of others in the Balkans by strengthening their border defences These limitations also benefit Germany indirectly as it reduces the numbers reaching its territory and makes the flow more manageable Greece though would be left isolated with the numbers of refugees trapped within its borders growing and nowhere for them to go Dealing with that would be some headache This article first appeared in last week s e newsletter which is available to subscribers More information on subscriptions is available here You can follow Nick on Twitter NickMalkoutzis Send with e mail Print this page 1 Comments RSS 15 Mar 2016 18 17 Posted by Klaus Kastner When only the slightest suggestion is made to rein in the flow of refugees the standard reaction is the reference to the 1951 Geneva Refugee Convention In view of this I am surprised that there really hasn t been much public discussion about what this Convention really says and how it could be legally contested After all the EU managed to contest Maastricht the

    Original URL path: http://www.macropolis.gr/?i=portal.en.the-agora.3777 (2016-04-27)
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  • When the refugee crisis met the bailout review | MacroPolis
    the government focussed solely on the negotiations with lenders and how this led to most arrivals not being screened properly An absence of presence from authorities currently with the border restrictions that are in place in the Balkans and central Europe would create absolute chaos Greece and the Greek people are paying a very high price for the problem they themselves did not create said European Council President Donald Tusk on his visit to Athens on Thursday I want to state here very clearly that the European Union will not leave Greece alone His remarks came just a few days after German Chancellor Angela Merkel caught everybody s attention with her comments in a TV interview regarding not abandoning Greece to its fate Do you seriously believe that all the euro states that last year fought all the way to keep Greece in the eurozone and we were the strictest can one year later allow Greece to in a way plunge into chaos she said indirectly linking the euro and refugee crises Perhaps it is a coincidence that a spate of such comments coincided with a series of meetings between Greece s lenders aimed at overcoming their own differences but there are indications of concern in some European capitals about the review not being completed and Greece in the meantime going from being a transit to a host country for refugees The question Greece has to ask itself though is what is driving the apparent concern of some of its European counterparts Are they worried that the EU s image as a progressive union of enlightened countries will be forever damaged by the creation of a humanitarian crisis in a member state that cannot fend for itself let alone thousands of new arrivals Or are they anxious that a tense Greek government distracted by another round of tense bailout negotiations will not be able to be the keeper of Europe s antechamber to which role many of its partners have now assigned it If it is the latter then Greece should not be under any illusions about its immediate future which would involve being kept alive economically in order to receive treat feed clothe and house tens of thousands of refugees so the flows towards central and northern Europe become more manageable If there are any doubts about what performing this assignment might look like then the European Commission s unprecedented decision this week to propose a humanitarian aid package of 700 million euros to assist refugees mostly in Greece over the next three years provides a good idea Until now such assistance has been reserved for use in conflict zones and never before deployed in Europe Just as it was in 2010 when the debt crisis erupted Greece may end up being a testing ground for Europe s response to a crisis the like of which it had never seen before This is not the connection between the refugees and the bailout that the Greek government would have hoped

    Original URL path: http://www.macropolis.gr/?i=portal.en.the-agora.3746 (2016-04-27)
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  • The refugee crisis and the beast within | MacroPolis
    far been a transit country It may have received close to 900 000 arrivals last year and more than 100 000 already this year but none of these people want to stay in Greece They understand that they will struggle to carve out a future for themselves in a country with high unemployment and few resources For them security is to be found further north in Europe I recently spoke to someone working as a translator for an NGO on one of the Greek islands At the height of the crisis last year this person spoke to as many as 100 refugees a day I asked him whether he ever fielded questions from the arrivals about the prospect of remaining in Greece His answer was emphatic Not a single one It is much more difficult to become agitated with a flow of people than a group that lingers Being a transit country also poses less complicated social questions Unlike Germany Sweden and others Greece does not have to consider how to provide housing welfare jobs and education for the people arriving on its doorstep While dealing with the humanitarian aspects logistics and security concerns of the refugee influx is no mean feat it does not create the same social flashpoints as the question of how to induct thousands of new arrivals into your society However the nature of the refugee crisis in Greece appears to be changing dramatically now An average of around 2 000 people a day have arrived by sea since the start of the year but the tightening of border controls by the countries to the north of Greece means that just a few hundred at the most are leaving on a daily basis This means thousands are being left behind and Greek resources are being stretched to the limit It also means migrants remaining in the country for longer which necessitates the creation of hot spots and transit centres These have become magnets for expressions of discontent from locals on Kos as well as in Athens and Thessaloniki In all these cases the protests have been spurred on by politicians On Kos the mayor has taken a hardline stance compared to his counterparts on other islands while neo Nazi Golden Dawn has also sensed an opportunity to stir things up Until recently the impact of the refugee crisis was largely felt on Greece s fringes its Aegean islands and northern border But it has now started to move to urban areas where the potential for political and social conflict is much larger especially if the media and opposition parties choose to address the issue in shrill maximalist terms An opinion poll by research centre Dianeosis published on February 28 suggests that Greek society is still showing substantial understanding It indicates that only 19 percent have a negative view of the island hot spots while 66 percent believe that Greece should not close its borders to keep out refugees even if this were possible on its sea

    Original URL path: http://www.macropolis.gr/?i=portal.en.the-agora.3730 (2016-04-27)
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  • Society | Agora | MacroPolis
    Greece Everything will be fine he said I walked home and bumped into my neighbour His view of the referendum was completely different We re doomed now he told me Read more 3 Comments Categories Society 29 Greece 229 Europe 104 6 Jul 2015 Divided we fall By Nick Malkoutzis Almost 11 years ago today tens of thousands of Greeks poured onto the streets in harmonious celebration of the national team s Euro 2004 victory That was another decade another time another world Today Greeks have little to celebrate and much that divides them Read more 2 Comments Categories Society 29 Greece 229 Politics 155 1 Apr 2015 Sowing the seeds of anomie in Greece By Nick Malkoutzis In his opening speech to Labour MPs after the party s historic election win in May 1997 Tony Blair implored the party s lawmakers to be whiter than white purer than pure Unfortunately it didn t quite work out that way Read more 1 Comments Categories Society 29 Greece 229 Politics 155 20 Mar 2015 Mentioning the war so we don t have to mention the war By Nick Malkoutzis Fawlty Towers was never a popular show in Greece and the concept of not mentioning the war is not one familiar with Greeks In fact Greece is a country where history is often viewed as a collection of unresolved issues such as the Asia Minor Catastrophe the Second World War the Civil War and the military dictatorship that continue to shape the present The sense that there has been a repeated lack of closure is prevalent at each new crisis each key turning point in the country s progression Read more 2 Comments Categories Society 29 Greece 229 Politics 155 Europe 104 8 Jan 2015 Samaras strays out of line in search for new normal By Nick Malkoutzis Prime Minister Antonis Samaras has a habit of defending his government by saying that his aim is to make Greece a normal European country Whatever he may mean by this and however genuine he may be in wanting Greece to recover from its long crisis this is an infuriatingly patronising comment Intentionally or not it aligns Greece s prime minister with all the cranks in Europe and Greece s misinformed critics beyond who view the country as some kind of basket case Read more 3 Comments Categories Society 29 Greece 229 Politics 155 Europe 104 31 Dec 2014 Our most popular stories in 2014 These are the stories that were read most in each of our four sections Politics economy society and The Agora during 2014 We thank you for your support and look forward to providing more top quality analysis in 2015 We wish you all a healthy and happy New Year Read more 0 Comments Categories Society 29 Greece 229 Politics 155 Economy 154 13 Oct 2014 Greece s biggest problem Society s lack of openness By Yannis Palaiologos I started writing my book The Thirteenth Labour of Hercules a couple of

    Original URL path: http://www.macropolis.gr/?i=portal.en.the-agora&c=3 (2016-04-27)
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