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Boutaris among ten top mayors globally

Thessaloniki Mayor Yiannis Boutaris joins the ranks of the best mayors around the globe as he was named yesterday one of the top 10 award winners for the 2014 World Mayor Prize.

Mayor Boutaris, who has been the mayor of Thessaloniki since January 2011 - elected for a second term with 58% of votes in May 2014 - competed with 26 mayors around the world and came in eighth.

According to World Mayor's website, Mayor Boutaris has been praised by European institutions for his policies and attitudes during the crisis years between 2010 and 2012, reduced the number of city council departments and staff and brought the budget under control whilst protecting important services.

He has set a timetable for phased reductions in local taxes. "Yiannis Boutaris has promoted ethnic and religious inclusivity by, for instance, reaching out to Jewish people and across borders to communities in neighboring countries," it is noted on World Mayor's website.

Instead, it will now be up to Greece's central bank to provide those banks with Emergency Liquidity Assistance (ELA), a step it takes at its own risk, ring-fencing those banks' funding problems from the rest of the euro zone.

Were the central bank to run into difficulties as a result, it would be up to the debt-strapped Greek government, which can ill afford it, to step in.

The unexpected move followed an appeal from Greece's new leftist government to the ECB to keep its banks afloat as it seeks to negotiate debt relief with its euro zone partners.

The ECB has now effectively refused this request, adding to Greece's problems as Germany rejected any roll-back of agreed austerity policies.

The ECB move was a setback for Greece's Varoufakis, who had earlier pledged speedy talks with international lenders on setting up a new programme of reform after abandoning its earlier aid plan.

It puts Greek banks in a difficult position. Two Greek banks had already begun to tap emergency liquidity assistance from the Bank of Greece after an outflow of deposits accelerated after the victory of the hard left Syriza party in a general election on Jan. 25, banking sources had told Reuters.

The health of Greece's big banks is central to keeping the country afloat.