Greece: Athens vies for Azeri and Chinese investments

Baku and Beijing crucial for Greek economic recovery

23 June, 11:10

    Aerial view of the new port for yachts and small ship of Athens [ARCHIVE MATERIAL 20070516 ] Aerial view of the new port for yachts and small ship of Athens [ARCHIVE MATERIAL 20070516 ]

    (by Demetrio Manolitsakis) (ANSAmed) - ATHENS - Recent trips to Athens by Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang are the best demonstration that Greece is re-conquering international credibility and that the government formed after elections two years ago - the first coalition government in the country's recent history - has so far obtained important results in economic recovery, although there are still many difficulties.

    The government knows very well that with unemployment at 27% (over 50% amid youths) and public debt at 180% of GDP, it cannot be easily considered a normal country. China and Azerbaijan are among the strongest protagonists of the world economy and their support will be crucial for the Greek economy.

    Azerbaijan, which the Ukrainian and Middle Eastern crises have made a key country for energy provision to Europe, has for this reason been defined as a ''milestone for the diversification of European provisions'' by European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso. And it is in excellent economic relations with Greece where it has already invested 400 million euros to buy 66% of Desfa.

    ''Energy security has strategic importance and the construction of the gas pipeline Tapis is not only an energy operation but also the re-evaluation of relations between Azerbaijan and Greece'', said Aliyev during his visit to Athens.

    The authority in charge of regulating energy (Rae) has already sent to the European Commission the certification that Desfa will be independent, will not trade gas and will not intervene in the internal administration of the company.

    The atmosphere during the visit of Chinese Premier Li Keqiang was definitely hotter. Economic relations between China and Greece are increasingly stronger and cooperation sectors with Beijing are expanding as China is ready to invest in many areas, including airports and railways while many big Chinese firms already operate in Greece.

    The companies Friedmann Pacific Asset Management Limited (Fpam) and the Shenzhen Airport Group already own 55% of shares in Athens airport Elefterios Venizelos and have promised to turn Greece's top airport into ''China's door into Europe''.

    Fosun Group for its part has expressed an interest in exploiting the capital's old airport, Hellinikon, and is also interested in building and managing the new airport of Kastelli near Iraklion (Crete).

    The Chinese presence in the port of Piraeus is even more important. Maritime logistics giant Cosco of China, which already controls dock 2 and the eastern part of dock 3, holds 70% of the port's commercial activities and wants to gain control of the western part of dock 3 so it can be in charge of over 80% of the port's trade activities.

    The port of Piraeus is today the third-largest in the Mediterranean and some major international companies like Zte, Huawei and Hp mean to use it to transport their products to Europe. (ANSAmed)

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