|Wednesday, 8 April 2020|
Athens Macedonian News Agency: News in English, 16-05-25
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From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 Cyprus issue, energy, regional developments dominate Tsipras-Anastasiades' meetingThe intercommunal talks for a solution to the Cyprus issue, energy issues, regional developments and joint cooperation of Greece and Cyprus with third countries dominated a meeting between Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades on Wednesday, at Maximos Mansion.
During the meeting Tsipras and Anastasiades also discussed the refugees issue, aspects of EU-Turkey relations as well as the contacts of the two leaders during the United Nations World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul.
"I welcome you at a crucial and interesting period for our region, for Europe, for Greece and Cyprus, especially lately that they are a pillar of stability in a widely troubled region," Tsipras said. "Our close cooperation and the promotion of initiatives of tripartite cooperation have turned Greece and Cyprus into an essential pillar of economic cooperation, peace and stability and I think that this role give us an advantage to see better conditions in the effort to solve the Cyprus problem always according to the rules of the international law," the prime minister said, however, noting that "this is a road with ups and downs."
"I am pleased that we are able to follow a policy with cautiousness as well as determination. I think that we will succeed to focus on those critical goals, because a solution must, above all, be a fair solution," Tsipras underlined.
On his part, Anastasiades praised Greece as it closes a long chapter of uncertainty and difficulties and underlined that if the government continues with the same determination, then the days of hope are ahead. He added that during his meeting with Tsipras he will have the opportunity to discuss the role Greece and Cyprus can play as partners.
 Eurogroup outcome 'ends vicious cycle of uncertainty and recession,' Gerovasili saysGovernment spokeswoman Olga Gerovasili on Wednesday welcomed the outcome of a Eurogroup meeting that decided to disburse 10.3 billion euros in loans to Greece, to be given in two instalments. Gerovasili said the decision reached by Eurozone finance ministers marked a successful conclusion of the first review of the Greek programme and an end to a "vicious cycle of uncertainty and recession," ushering in a new era of economic stability that would allow a return to borrowing from the markets.
"From these instalments, 3.5 billion euros will be paid over the coming period into the real economy, providing valuable liquidity, Gerovasili told reporters.
"The agreement does not only concern the review and the structural reforms but also the debt," she pointed out, noting that a clear and binding road map for debt relief, outlining specific goals and interventions in the short-term, medium-term and long-term, now existed for the first time.
"The financing of the economy has been secured for a very long time on very favourable terms, proving wrong all those that invested in the country's failure for petty political gain," she commented, predicting that Greece would now enter a phase of economic stability that will boost the confidence of investors and allow a return to growth.
At the same time, she added, the government had proved that its primary concern was to share the burden fairly among Greek citizens and promised that this same "progressive, social slant" will continue during the times of economic recovery.
"The days when the many were burdened so that the few could enjoy is gone for good," she said.
 Loan tranches to Greece will last until 2nd review starts at end-October, Eurozone sources sayBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/ M. Aroni) The 10.3 billion euro tranche that the Eurogroup decided to disburse to Greece will fully meet the country's financing needs until the end of October, when the second review of the Greek programme is set to start, Eurozone officials said on Wednesday.
Describing the events behind the scenes at Tuesday's Eurogroup, the sources said that the IMF and Europeans had reached a compromise in spite of their different initial positions, while confirming that the IMF will participate. According to one EU official, this was not so much a "power play" but more that all sides moved from their initial position, with the IMF fully understanding that the Eurozone operates in a different way from the fund.
Regarding the measures for the debt, the European sources said that there were no "immediate decisions" but this was not a surprise, since there were no debts maturing in the short term. In the medium-term, the Eurozone countries said they will examine the possibility of buying up debt to the IMF early, or the bilateral loans with Eurozone countries, using the unspent funds (approximately 20 billion euros) originally destined for the recapitalisation of the banks. This would, however, require the approval of some national parliaments.
According to Eurozone officials, the chances that Greece can return to borrowing from the markets at reasonable interest rates at the end of the programme are much higher following the agreement at Tuesday's Eurogroup. They said that Greece's access to the markets can begin to be restored gradually, in the second half of 2017, and that the aim is to restore full market access by the end of 2018.
The more credible Greece's economic policy, including its success in delivering primary surplus targets, the smaller the spreads on Greek bonds will be, though borrowing from the Eurozone will always be cheaper, the same sources said. The second review of the Greek programme would begin at the end of October, they added, noting that the measures that remained to be taken will not be as difficult as those required by the first review.
 'Europe is playing Russian roulette with Greece' on refugee crisis, ESI Chairman Gerald Knaus saysThe European Union was failing to grasp that the refugee issue is a European problem, the head of the the European Stability Initiative (ESI) - a think-tank credited with designing the EU-Turkey deal of March 20 - said in a press conference held in Athens on Wednesday. In scathing criticism of the EU's stance, ESI founding chairman Gerald Knaus accused Europe of "hiding behind Greece" and "playing Russian roulette" with Greece as the potential victim.
Knaus, who was in Athens as the guest of the Konrad-Adenauer Foundation and the Netherlands Embassy, defended the March 20 deal with Turkey as the "best that could be done" to defend human rights.
"People aren't drowning, they don't have to pay traffickers, they are not trapped in Greece for years," he pointed out. He criticised Greek delays in examining asylum applications, however, and the lack of any management mechanism, as well as the EU's failure to implement the resettlement system and take responsibility for implementing the agreement with Turkey.
"This is an extremely dangerous moment when all that's been achieved can fail. And if the agreement fails, things will be much worse than they were the previous year," he said. He pointed out that the services for examining asylum applications on the Greek islands were very understaffed, even with the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) reinforcements, and that the number of interviews conducted each day was woefully inadequate when compared with the thousands of asylum seekers.
"If this is a mission that must succeed, then we are playing Russian roulette and taking risks. Turkey has agreed to take back all the migrants whose applications are rejected by Greece yet no case has reached conclusion in the last two months, he added.
 Idomeni railway track cleared of migrants; inspection to restore line's operation on Thursday, Kyritsis saysThe railway track at Idomeni has been cleared of squatting migrants and refugees and an inspection by the Greek railway services operator TRAINOSE has been scheduled for Thursday to restore its operation, the migration crisis coordinating committee representative Georgios Kyritsis said on Wednesday in a post on his Twitter account.
"Idomeni: the removal from railway line is complete. An inspection by TRAINOSE tomorrow to restore its operation," Kyritsis said.
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