Tag Archives: Greece

Greece anticipated to push by means of remaining reforms on Tue-euro zone

BRUSSELS Greece has accomplished far more than half of the reforms agreed with euro zone creditors to get the subsequent, 1 billion-euro tranche of bailout loans and is to legislate the remaining methods on Tuesday, a senior euro zone official mentioned on Sunday.

Euro zone creditors have produced the payout of the next tranche of loans to Athens conditional on Greece adopting a set of 13 reforms and progress was discussed at a meeting of euro zone deputy finance ministers on Friday.

The reforms contain privatization as nicely as tax and structural measures, financial-sector and bad-loan reforms and changes to public administration.

“Seven out of the 13 are completed now,” said the official, who is familiar with the discussions of the deputy ministers on Friday but who spoke on situation of anonymity.

“All the rest and every thing else related is due to be adopted in the Greek parliament on Tuesday night. A compliance report by the institutions representing the creditors is to stick to on Wednesday,” the official mentioned.

After the report, euro zone deputy finance ministers, who also type the board of the euro zone bailout fund, are to hold a teleconferences at the end of the week to give a green light for the disbursement of the tranche, the official stated.

(Reporting By Jan Strupczewski Editing by Jonathan Oatis)

Migrant arrivals in Greece fell sharply in November: Frontex

BRUSSELS The number of irregular migrants arriving in Greece fell sharply last month, with probably fewer than one hundred,000 men and women recorded by the EU border agency, significantly less than half the quantity in October, a Frontex spokeswoman said on Friday.

Stressing that the information was not but totally compiled, she said far more than 200,000 men and women had arrived in October and that worsening climate appeared to be minimizing flows.

It was too early to establish any trend following an EU-Turkish accord in late November to try and limit the numbers of migrants leaving Turkey, the spokeswoman stated.

Arrivals in Greece in the last week of November had been a little far more than five,000.

(Reporting by Alastair Macdonald editing by Robin Emmott)

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Greece can tap markets in 2016 if reforms on track -EU aide

ATHENS Greece, which received a third international bailout this year, can begin to return to bond markets in 2016 if its reform program stays on course, a senior EU finance official was quoted on Saturday as saying.

The government is dependent on the euro zone’s rescue fund for most of its borrowing despite the fact that it continues to issue a limited amount of brief-term treasury bills.

“If the system is on track, as it is right now, and stays that way all of 2016, then I reckon access to markets is a feasible target and will be a logical consequence,” Thomas Wieser, chairman of the Eurogroup Operating Group, told Greek newspaper Realnews.

The government has begun to implement a difficult reform plan following a bailout of up to 86 billion euros ($ 93.61 billion) agreed in August but nonetheless faces politically sensitive overhauls of the pension and tax system and state administration.

Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos told Reuters in an interview this week he saw a 50-50 likelihood of tapping capital markets prior to the end of subsequent year.

(Reporting by Lefteris Karagiannopoulos Editing by Paul Taylor)

National Bank of Greece gets two.71 bln euro state aid by the European Commission

ATHENS The European Commission approved on Friday state aid of two.71 billion euros for National Bank of Greece (NBGr.AT), primarily based on a modified restructuring strategy.

The commission concluded that measures the National Bank of Greece has already implemented will enable it to safe a grant of credit to the Greek economy, according to the European Union’s rules on state help.

“With the completion of the recapitalization of the 4 systemic banks of Greece and the quite important participation of the private sector, one particular a lot more element of uncertainty was eliminated,” said European Commissioner Pierre Moscovici.

“This improvement is a good step to make sure the sustainable restoration of self-assurance in Greece.”

A European Central Bank well being verify in October found National Bank of Greece, the country’s biggest lender by assets, would have a capital shortfall of 4.six billion euros ($ 4.86 billion) beneath the most adverse scenario.

(Reporting by Lefteris Karagiannopoulos Editing by Catherine Evans)

With Schengen beneath threat, Greece accepts EU help

BRUSSELS/IDOMENI Greece asked for European support on Thursday to safe its borders and care for crowds of migrants, defusing threats from EU allies to bar it from the passport-totally free Schengen zone if it failed to get a grip.

Hours prior to EU interior ministers are to meet on Friday to think about what to do about Greece’s inability to stem the flow of refugees and others streaming toward Europe’s wealthy north, the Athens government ultimately heeded calls from Brussels and agreed to accept European aid and foreign border guards.

Although EU officials insisted publicly there was “no threat to expel” Greece from Schengen — a relatively symbolic punishment as it has no land border with the rest of the bloc — diplomats said Athens was beneath large pressure to show by Friday’s meeting that it was cooperating on EU migration measures.

Its acceptance of three offers — EU employees to assist on its northern frontier, foreign border guards on its Aegean islands and tents and supplies to home stranded migrants — was swiftly welcomed by the EU executive and Migration Commissioner Dmitris Avramopoulos, a Greek himself, referred to as for EU states to support.

Riots and the death of a young Moroccan electrocuted on a rail line as he tried to cross Greece’s northern frontier into Macedonia place much more human faces on a crisis that has poisoned relations amongst European governments and left their cherished Schengen program of open borders on life help.

The man was among some three,000 men and women, mainly from Pakistan, Iran and Morocco, stuck near the northern Greek town of Idomeni given that Macedonia began limiting entry to Syrians, Iraqis and Afghans probably to be provided asylum further north in the EU.

Half a world away, in Pakistan, the government’s refusal to let 30 of its own citizens get off a plane chartered from Greece to return them to Islamabad underscored the difficulties in enforcing a new EU determination to deport these of this year’s million arrivals who fail to qualify for asylum

Inside Europe, a Swedish strategy that could close the Baltic bridge linking it to Nordic neighbor Denmark in case of migrant emergencies rammed property how far disarray in coping with Syrian and other refugees — in numbers dwarfed by the EU population of 507 million — is taxing European unity.

South of the bridge, Danes voted No on Thursday in a referendum to a government request for a lot more power to cooperate with EU partners on policing — the most recent sign that fears of Euro-chaos are fuelling populist nationalisms.

On Sunday, Union co-founder France is most likely to hand huge electoral gains to the anti-EU National Front, three weeks soon after 130 individuals have been killed in Paris by Islamic State militants, some of whom might have arrived from Syria through Greece.

GREECE STRUGGLES

Handicapped by the financial crisis that practically saw it drop out of the euro currency zone, Greece has struggled to cope this year with nearly 600,000 men and women making the brief but perilous crossing from Turkey to Greek islands scattered along its coast.

Allies have grown increasingly impatient with Greek failures to even register and identify most of these arriving, let alone accommodate them and deal with asylum requests as EU guidelines dictate and that frustration has mounted sharply amid accusations that Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’s radical leftist-led coalition has refused to accept EU help, notably foreign border guards.

Whilst denying it had rejected aid and cooperation, the government said on Thursday that it would function with officers from the EU’s Frontex border agency to register those migrants trapped in the north given that Macedonia tightened frontier checks.

Sensitive to ideas Greece was losing sovereignty on its territory, a government spokeswoman stressed Frontex would only work on registration of individuals not documented additional south and not take element in “joint border controls”.

The European Commission, which below President Jean-Claude Juncker has been pressing Tsipras to accept more EU help, mentioned Athens had formally activated two other assistance applications.

The EU Civil Protection Mechanism, originally conceived to cope with all-natural disasters such as earthquakes, will offer EU supplies of tents, generators and other equipment to assist Greece accommodate folks more than the winter. And on the Greek islands, Frontex will organize a Fast Border Intervention Team (RaBIT), forcing other EU states to reinforce Greek border guards.

It is only the second time the RaBIT system has been activated after Greece utilized it in the winter of 2010-11 to check a surge in individuals crossing its land border with Turkey. That has because been sealed but healthcare charity Medecins Sans Frontieres, which is involved in saving people at sea in the Aegean, known as on the EU on Thursday to open new, safer routes to Europe.

EU leaders hope winter seas, and their new deal with Turkey to attempt to dissuade and avoid Syrian and Iraqi refugees and other migrants from setting off, can bring down the numbers and give them breathing space to organize a collective response.

Two weeks ahead of they sit down for a Brussels summit that could be stormy, there is no sign of divisions easing, notably in between German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who has led efforts to take in much more Syrians, and leaders in the formerly Communist East who oppose EU schemes to make them take in some asylum seekers.

The Hungarian government of Prime Minister Viktor Orban said it would follow neighboring Slovakia in filing a complaint at the European Court of Justice against the program.

The possible for immigration to wreck significant achievements of the European Union has fueled calls for tougher action. This week, Merkel has warned that even Afghans who do not meet strict criteria for asylum will be deported — even though that is not simple.

And in an interview published on Thursday, Donald Tusk, the former Polish premier who chairs EU summits, mentioned irregular migrants need to be detained for as lengthy as needed to verify their identities, up to the 18 months permitted by law.

Warning of safety threats and saying most migrants have been not fleeing war, Tusk mentioned: “It is as well straightforward to get into Europe … This wave of migration is as well large not to be stopped.”

(Writing by Alastair Macdonald Editing by Alison Williams)

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EU presses Greece over migrants, weighs Schengen threat

ATHENS/BRUSSELS Greece hit back on Wednesday at threats from some EU states to suspend it from the Schengen zone of open border travel since of its failure to handle huge numbers of migrants entering Europe.

Some central European officials, most prominently Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico, have suggested excluding Greece from Schengen. Diplomats and European Union officials say some governments have raised the possibility informally but it would be a largely symbolic move, with little impact on migration.

“It is not mentioned officially, but there is pressure,” Greek Migration Minister Yannis Mouzalas told reporters, denying a Financial Times report on Wednesday that Athens had, amongst other factors, refused an EU supply of devices developed to share the identity data of incoming migrants about the bloc.

“These are quite common lies for Greece … This blame game towards our country is unfair,” he stated.

The Financial Times said Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn had conveyed a suspension warning on a go to to Athens this week, but Mouzalas and a spokeswoman for Asselborn denied the report. Many diplomats said it had not been formally discussed by EU governments.

“We are functioning to preserve Schengen and make it function properly,” an EU official mentioned. “The moment of truth will be the December European Council,” the official said, referring to the subsequent meeting of EU leaders in Brussels in two weeks’ time.

Clashes erupted on the Greek-Macedonian border on Tuesday when Macedonian riot police fired tear gas to repel up to 1,000 mainly Pakistani migrants trying to force their way across a newly erected border fence, a Reuters witness mentioned. 1 Macedonian officer fired warning shots in the air.

Frustration has risen in current weeks in the European Commission, the EU executive charged with ramping up controls on the external borders, and among EU governments that Greece is failing to make use of obtainable EU funds and personnel to guarantee individuals arriving in the Schengen region are documented.

With no land borders with the rest of the 26-nation Schengen area, Greece has permitted hundreds of thousands of men and women, several of them Syrian refugees, to travel from its islands off the Turkish coast across Greece to the northern border with non-EU Macedonia as they head for Germany.

Mouzalas said that as extended as Turkey did not shut down men and women smugglers operating on its coastline, Athens could not quit frail boats packed with refugees from landing on Greek islands in the Aegean Sea. He mentioned he had taken EU ambassadors out to sea to watch arrivals and asked what Athens must do.

“They do not dare to ask us ‘drown them’, but if you do push-back on a plastic boat in the middle of the sea with 50 or 70 refugees aboard, you’re asking me to drown them,” the minister stated.

“TOOL” TO PUSH GREECE

EU diplomats mentioned suspending Greece from the open-border rules – activating Report 26 of the Schengen treaty so that individuals arriving at ports and airports from Greece had been treated as coming from outdoors the Schengen zone – could be discussed at a meeting of EU interior ministers on Friday.

Even so, some also said that Greece appeared to be moving now to implement EU measures to handle migrants and so a common front against Athens was unlikely as early as this week.

“It is a tool for pushing Greece to accept EU aid,” 1 senior diplomat said. Since migrants and refugees have rarely employed airlines or international ferries, the principal influence of other Schengen states imposing passport checks on arrivals from Greece would be on Greeks and tourists who are important to the Greek economy.

Yet another senior EU diplomat said: “The Greek position is moving in the necessary direction.” As a outcome, a discussion of suspension from Schengen this week may possibly not be required.

A Luxembourg government spokeswoman mentioned Asselborn’s newest visit to Greece was to verify on the functioning of EU-agreed measures, such as processing migrants via “hot spots” for identification. Greece is meant to have 5 such “hot spots” by the end of the year but appears likely to have two at most.

Asselborn asked Greece to accept help supplied by the EU, which includes cash and border guards from the bloc’s Frontex agency and discussed why a program to move migrants from Greece to other EU states in an orderly style is not but functioning.

EU officials accept Greek criticism that other states have failed to organize facilities to take in refugees but say Athens, regardless of the economic issues that saw it nearly drop out of the euro zone this year, could do a lot more.

Mouzalas stated Greece had spent 1 billion euros in further unbudgeted funds from its strained budget this year on coping with the refugee influx, and had received a mere 30 million euros so far in EU assistance due to bureaucracy on each sides.

He welcomed Frontex help to register refugees but said that beneath Greek law, only Greek forces could patrol its border.

Estonian Prime Minister Taavi Roivas told Reuters that EU states must show Greece understanding and that suspending it from Schengen would not be valuable: “The problem is undoubtedly there and I do know that we need to operate with each other to resolve it. But creating fences among us is not a lengthy-term resolution.”

(Reporting by Alastair Macdonald in Brussels, Paul Taylor and Karolina Tagaris in Athens and Alexandros Avramidis in Idomeni, Greece @macdonaldrtr editing by David Stamp)

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Greece to lift capital controls by mid-2016 -deputy fin min

ATHENS Dec 1 Greece expects to completely lift capital controls imposed at the height of the euro zone crisis in July by mid-2016, deputy finance minister George Chouliarakis mentioned on Tuesday.

He told visiting correspondents the controls would be eased progressively when Greek banks successfully full a recapitalisation this month and confidence returns to the economy with the start of talks early subsequent year on debt relief.

“It would be secure to say that all controls will be removed by the end of the 1st half of 2016,” said Chouliarakis, who is Athens’ chief negotiator with international creditors.

“We want to be cautious. We can not do it speedily since we don’t want a setback,” he added.

The government imposed capital controls and ordered a three-week bank holiday to stem deposit outflows right after Greece rejected a bailout deal with euro zone lenders at the end of June.

It at some point reached a new three-year bailout agreement in August and is now in the process of implementing agreed reforms that will pave the pay for debt relief negotiations subsequent year.

(Reporting by Jan Strupczewski and Paul Taylor Writing by Paul Taylor)

Latvia urges Greece to tighten border to ease refugee crisis

RIGA The president of Latvia has urged Greece to demonstrate a “changed attitude” on border safety to stem a flow of migrants, but sees no want to re-erect Europe’s internal frontiers in response to the refugee crisis or Paris attacks.

President Raimonds Vejonis told Reuters he also backed European help to help Turkey deal with more than 2 million refugees from Syria, even though expressing concern about Russia’s growing involvement in Syria’s civil war.

Hundreds of thousands of migrants fleeing conflict have poured into Europe from the Middle East and Africa this year, straining external borders along Europe’s southern flank.

“This is the cause why we genuinely require a changed attitude of Greece and other people on border safety. They want stronger control and checks of documents on their border since they are the initial country that asylum seekers are reaching,” Vejonis said.

Amid deep divisions more than Europe’s worst refugee crisis considering that Planet War Two, officials from Baltic states have voiced related issues about Italy, whose islands have also faced an influx.

Hundreds of Latvians protested in August against a government decision to accept 250 asylum seekers more than two years as portion of a European Union plan to deal with the migrants.

Vejonis dismissed calls for the Schengen agreement, a free of charge border zone of 26 nations which includes 22 from the EU, to be frozen in light of the refugee crisis or the Nov. 13 attacks in Paris, carried out partly by militants who traveled freely from Belgium.

“I don’t believe that we want to close borders due to the fact in reality these individuals who are involved in terrorism are already mostly European citizens. It indicates our security institutions need to perform more very carefully and intensively to recognize such people and detain them if essential,” he mentioned.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has stated the open border system would only endure if EU member states accepted a permanent, mandatory quota method for sharing out refugees.

But Vejonis mentioned the EU have to initial shore up its external frontiers, specially in the south, establish successful techniques of returning non-war refugees and combat human trafficking.

“If the EU does not solve all these crucial troubles, it will be very difficult in the future to discuss new choices on reallocation and resettlement. It will be a really hot subject for us and if there are no options on these 3 points, it will be extremely tough to continue.”

RUSSIAN RESURGENCE

The EU is due to hold a summit with Turkey on Sunday to talk about help for the two.three million Syrian refugees there, but differences remain more than what Ankara must offer in return.

“From a European point of view we need to have to organize very good border manage, but at the exact same time uncover the mechanisms for helping Turkey handle the two million or more people who have already arrived from Syria,” Vejonis stated.

Latvia is also examining what it can contribute to an anti-Islamic State coalition proposed by France, soon after sending a senior officer to the U.S. command center for the Middle East.

But Vejonis, a former defense minister who is also commander of Latvia’s forces, mentioned Riga’s priority would be to preserve its personal security amid what Western officials have described as Cold War levels of military activity in the Baltic.

“The initial task of our armed forces is to develop new capabilities here since relations militarily among the Baltic states, and between NATO and Russia, are nonetheless quite difficult and we really feel day-to-day the effect of Russian military activities along our borders on land, sea and air.”

With ties in between Moscow and Western capitals thawing following the Paris attacks, some of Russia’s neighbors fear Europe’s commitment to sanctions against Moscow over the Ukraine crisis may be waning as they co-operate in fighting Islamic State.

Vejonis said the EU’s priority in dealing with Russia need to stay complete implementation of a deal to finish fighting in east Ukraine, beneath the terms of the so-known as Minsk agreement, which set a deadline of the end of 2015 for Ukraine to regain full handle over its eastern border.

“No implementation, no good relations with Russia. My opinion is we need to continue negotiations to see how we can preserve sanctions against Russia, but I hope that all parties will actually implement the Minsk Agreement,” he said.

(Added reporting by Gederts Gelzis Editing by Alison Williams)

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