By Furkan Naci Top
Greece Letter, week beginning March 21

-    Greek bailout talks

Greece and its creditors have failed to reach a deal regarding its bailout program after two weeks of talks to review the reforms. The quartet of creditors, including European institutions and the IMF, require the Greek government to take certain decisions on its pension system, taxes, privatization and management of bad loans. The head of institutions; European Central Bank, European Commission, European Stability Mechanism and IMF left Greece on Sunday to return after the Easter holiday in late March. According to the European Commission, this phase was closed by important progress on income tax and pension reforms. Also, the head of Eurogroup Jeroen Dijsselbloem announced that talks will restart on April 2.

-    Expulsion of Mouzales

In politics, the coalition government partners are headed for a possible break up. The small partner of the coalition ANEL’s leader and Defense Minister Panos Kammenos called for the resignation of the Alternate Migration Policy Minister Yannis Mouzalas following the latter’s “gaffe” in a TV program.

Mouzalas called the neighboring country simply ‘Macedonia’ instead of its internationally recognized name; Fyrom (Former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia) - the officially accepted term for the country. The right-wing leader Kammenos claimed that the party would stay in government although without Mouzalas in the cabinet.

-    Refugee crisis

Another topic on the agenda was the refugee crisis and the EU-Turkey deal on handling the flow of refugees. Greece is now under considerable burden to register new refugee arrivals and prepare legal paperwork and arrange logistical operations for them. More than 50,000 refugees are stuck in the country after the Balkan countries blocked their passage to developed European countries. Greece has to evacuate the refugees and migrants in the Aegean Islands and make room for the newcomers as of March 20, the date by which the newcomers will become eligible for their return to Turkey under the deal. The Syriza-led government often laments the cost of hosting the refugees in the country, while its creditors demand that the Greek authorities take the necessary measures to create a primary budget surplus equal to 3.5 percent of its GDP by 2018.

22 Mar,2016