Daily Update


16-09-2020 | EYE ON GREECE 

Monday, October 26 2020

Motion of censure against minister fails

The Parliaments has rejected, 158-133, a motion of censure tabled against Finance Minister Christos Staikouras by main opposition Syriza.


Athens insists on Turkish arms embargo

With Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan making clear his plans to continue exploratory activities within Greece’s continental shelf over the next two months, Athens is pressing its case for an arms embargo against Turkey.


Al-Sisi to Athens & Nicosia: Watch out for Ankara’s liaison with Islamist terrorists

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi drew the attention of Athens and Nicosia to the Islamic terrorism and the way it is part of Tayyip Erdogan’s plans.


Ankara announces naval exercises despite ‘moratorium’

Turkey issued a navigation warning (navtex) announcing naval exercises in the eastern Mediterranean for Oct. 27-28, hours after NATO’s Secretary-General announced that Greece and Turkey agreed on Friday to cancel military exercises that were scheduled on each other’s national holidays on October 28 and 29, respectively.


Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to be in Athens on Monday, October 26th

Developments in the Eastern Mediterranean, Middle East and Cyprus are expected to be the focus of talks between Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and his Greek counterpart Nikos Dendias in Athens on Monday.


790 new coronavirus infections, 10 deaths reported on Sunday

Greece announced 790 new coronavirus infections on Sunday, of which 76 relate to known clusters and 29 were identified at entry points to the country.


S&P and DBRS affirm Greek rating and outlook

Two of the world’s four main rating agencies, Standard & Poor’s and DBRS Morningstar, have affirmed their rating and outlook for Greece.


ATHEX: Stock week ends with small gains

Stocks at Athinon Avenue headed higher on Friday after another quiet session, with traders harboring little hope of any significant shifts in the rating reports by Standard & Poor’s and DBRS, due late on Friday. Pressure is set to resume in the new week, unless there is a dramatic deterioration in public health situation across the country.








KATHIMERINI:  Behold the armaments that Athens asks to be included in an embargo against Turkey   

TO VIMA:   General lockdown if Greece records 2,000 COVID-19 cases per day     

REAL  NEWS:  Estimations about 4,000 COVID-19 cases per day    

PROTO THEMA:  Block against COVID-19 with 3 measures   

AVGI:  Vulture-government    


TA NEA:   Erdogan isolated   

EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON:  The government is being cynical like a pawnbroker    

KONTRA NEWS:  The Oruc Reis will sink    

DIMOKRATIA:   ‘Heist’ instead of retroactive payments   

NAFTEMPORIKI:  The US elections are a barometer for global commerce    


EVEN FEWER MEETINGS: The sharp rise in the number of coronavirus infections in Brussels and the Belgian, erm, response to the crisis have further affected the engine room of the European Union: In light of the situation, “the German Council presidency is considering a further reduction in the number of physical sessions and an even greater concentration of work on core European issues,” a presidency diplomat told Playbook. The issue “will be discussed on Monday by the EU ambassadors.”

GOOD MORNING. The move in Brussels follows Chancellor Angela Merkel’s second weekend appeal in a row to her fellow German citizens. In her video podcast, she urged folks to “meet far fewer people,” adding firmly that last week’s advice “still applies, word for word.” (Last week’s video was then replayed, for those who may have needed a refresher.)

New measures across the Continent: Infection numbers are rising across Europe, with several governments forced to tighten restrictions over the weekend. For example, Spain’s new measures include a nationwide curfew; in Italy, cinemas and theaters, gyms, swimming pools and ski resorts will have to close from today until November 24 — and more radically, restaurants across the country will shut their doors at 6 p.m. Over in Sweden, Uppsala has gone into a voluntary lockdown.

Belgian whiplash: Meanwhile, Brussels inhabitants went from a few extra restrictions issued by the federal government Friday morning, to an effective standstill, including a curfew between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. (effective today), issued by Brussels region premier Rudi Vervoort Saturday afternoon. Vervoort asked for “public support.” This isn’t Playbook asking, but the respectable Le Soir newspaper: “What the hell is this country?”

Latest politicians to test positive for the coronavirus: Bulgarian PM Boyko Borissov and Polish President Andrzej Duda.


CONSERVATIVES WIN IN LITHUANIA: Homeland Union is on track to win Sunday’s general election, with Finance Minister Ingrida Šimonytė’s center-right opposition party winning 49 of parliament’s 141 seats, according to preliminary results. The main party in the coalition of incumbent Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis, the Farmers and Greens, came second with 32 seats. Charlie Duxbury has the latest.

SOCIALIST SHOCK IN PORTUGAL: The governing Socialist Party came first in Sunday’s Azores regional election but lost its absolute majority, a blow for Prime Minister António Costa in his first ballot-box test since the coronavirus pandemic. Paul Ames with this report.


BELARUS LATEST: Sunday’s protests in Minsk were massive — tens of thousands took to the streets ahead of the opposition’s deadline for Alexander Lukashenko to go, which lapsed at midnight. Police used stun grenades to break up the protests (video here) and arrested over 200 people, according to media reports. Opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya called for a nationwide strike to go ahead today, saying: “The regime has once again shown Belarusians that violence is the only thing it is capable of. Therefore tomorrow, October 26, a national strike will begin.” Sergei Kuznetsov has more from Minsk.

HOW TO LOSE FRIENDS AND ALIENATE THE EU: High Representative Josep Borrell tweeted that Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s insults targeting Emmanuel Macron are “unacceptable,” after the Turkish president questioned his French counterpart’s mental health. “I call on Turkey to stop this dangerous spiral of confrontation,” Borrell said, reminding Ankara that EU leaders had made Turkey “a real offer to relaunch our relationship.” But, he warned, “political will from the Turkish authorities is needed on this positive agenda. Otherwise, Turkey will be even more isolated.”

Dubious diagnosis: Erdoğan on Sunday declared (again) that Macron “has lost his way” and “really must be checked up.” It was an apparent reference to the French president’s recent vow to fight radical Islam. Paola Tamma has more.

Those denying there’s a threat to France or Europe: The French (and American) left and several commentators. French teachers, meanwhile, feel abandoned in their attempts to defend secularism in the face of radical Islam and threats of violence and verbal attacks, Elisa Braun reports.

So what should Macron do? John Lichfield has some advice in this op-ed: “Macron needs to return to the sensible, considered approach to France’s relationship with its 5 million Muslim citizens that he adopted in a speech two weeks before the murder of Samuel Paty.”

TAKING A LEAF OUT OF ERDOĞAN’S PLAYBOOK … is Fidesz MEP Tamás Deutsch. In a piece of unsolicited advice, he suggested that European People’s Party President Donald Tusk’s “problems with us certainly go far beyond the world of politics and belong to another profession — psychology.” The comments came in response to an interview Tusk gave to Radio Free Europe, in which he criticized Hungary’s leadership. “This attempt to build a new ideology, which is called by Viktor Orbán an ‘illiberal democracy,’ means in fact ‘degenerate democracy,’” Tusk had said.

TRANSATLANTIC REPOSITIONING: German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer reiterated her country’s strong commitment to “the West as a system of values” — which “is at risk in its entirety.” Saving it will require acknowledging some uncomfortable truths, AKK said in a speech over the weekend — including that Europe needs the U.S. for its safety, and that any American president will continue to push for more European — and German — engagement.

Key lines: “Only America and Europe together can keep the West strong, defending it against the unmistakable Russian thirst for power and Chinese ambitions for global supremacy,” Kramp-Karrenbauer said. Germany “continues to depend on America’s strategic protection. We cannot provide our own nuclear deterrence, nor do we want to … At the same time, we Europeans will have to do ourselves much of what America has largely done for us so far, by diplomatic and by conventional military means.” She added: “Both, the giving and the receiving, is not always easy to accept.” Full speech here.

Happening today: The CDU will decide this morning what to do about a congress that is meant to elect a successor for Kramp-Karrenbauer, the party’s departing leader. It was meant to be an in-person event on December 4, with 1,001 delegates in one room. That won’t happen, not least after Merkel’s most recent admonishment. It could turn into either a virtual or hybrid congress — or they’ll just wait until next year, with Kramp-Karrenbauer carrying on until then.


BUBBLE OPTIMISM: The pandemic may be upending all kinds of certainties in Europe, but it’s not enough to disturb the institutional optimism of the Brussels bubble, judging by a new survey among EU officials, think tankers, lobbyists and other stakeholders in town, exclusively previewed by Playbook. Asked about the consequences of the pandemic for the EU’s policy priorities, respondents said there should be new powers for the EU in health, better crisis response mechanisms and more.

Any negative impact? Nah. The bubble is sold on the “ever closer” mantra: Only 7 percent of respondents were concerned the crisis could have an impact on the future of the Schengen area — an “unexpectedly” optimistic view, as the authors of the study note, given the recent border closures. But the “respondents seem to interpret this development as a short-term consequence of the crisis,” the study says, while “in the long term, they express faith in the stability of the EU’s open border system.”

Stronger together? Actually, respondents seem to reckon the coronavirus crisis will actually strengthen cohesion among EU countries — 48 percent said it will bring Europeans closer together, while only 16 percent indicated the opposite. Twenty-four percent were undecided — one litmus test has yet to be passed, after all, because while EU leaders may have agreed on the huge new EU budget among themselves, an agreement between Council and Parliament has yet to be found.

Which raises expectations for … Angela Merkel. Almost two-thirds of the respondents said the German Council presidency would set the course for a major strategic reorientation of the EU; only 27 percent said crisis management would prevail. A vast majority of 79 percent expect an integration-friendly German presidency for the remainder of the year.

Further reading: The Konrad Adenauer Foundation and the European Policy Centre survey on “Brussels’ perspective on the future of Europe after COVID-19” was conducted among a few hundred stakeholders. Here’s the whole study for you, ahead of its presentation later this week. And here are some of the early results, which Playbook reported on in September.


POLES PROTEST ABORTION RULING: Women’s rights activists protested outside and inside Polish churches Sunday in response to a top Polish court’s ruling that abortions undertaken because of fetal defects are unconstitutional. AP has more.

SPAIN’S JUDICIARY IN THE DOCK: A standoff between the two largest parties in Spain over the appointment of judges has come to a head, reports Guy Hedgecoe.