Still staggered by the withdrawal of one of his coalition partners but rebounding with a Cabinet reshuffle and an alliance with the PASOK Socialists, Prime Minister and New Democracy Conservative leader Antonis Samaras had a good day on June 26 with the signing of a deal that sees Greece as a transit country for EU gas, and the Chinese company Closco inauguaring a new container terminal at Piraeus.
Samaras, who brought in PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos as Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, spent the rest of the day in a series of meetings with business executives, looking to put behind him the closing of the national broadcaster ERT which precipitated a political crisis.
The big hit was the signing of the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) to bring gas from Azerbaijan to Italy and central and Western Europe, which will pass through Greece, create 2,000 direct and 10,000 indirect jobs and bring the economy a 1.5 billion euros ($1.95 billion) boost, authorities said.
Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras said, “I believe this will bring jobs to Greece … it will help Greece become an energy hub in the wider area.”
In Piraeus, Samaras said Greece could be a hub for trade between Europe and China as he joined Captain Wei Jiafu of Cosco to cut the red ribbon on the new container terminal at the port. Samaras called on the Chinese group to deepen its involvement in Greece.
“We invite you to more successful cooperation in transport, trains, ports and ship repair,” said Samaras, adding that further development of the port by Cosco would create 500 new jobs, ultimately making Piraeus one of the five biggest cargo ports in Europe, and employ about 3,000 people.
He visited China in May in a bid to get more investment and tourists as part of plan to bring in more foreign businesses to help the Greek economy get out from under a $390 billion debt without relying only on international bailouts and harsh austerity measures.
Samaras also said that his government would in the next few days announce the privatization of TRAINOSE, the state company that manages Greece’s rail network. He suggested that there were investment opportunities to be gained from linking Piraeus with the rail service.