Eldorado Gold President and CEO George Burns said this week that the upcoming general elections in Greece will be the catalyst for the mining company’s investment in the country.
The statement was made during a teleconference with analysts in regard to the fourth quarter financial report of the Canadian company.
The mining company CEO reiterated that “We see the elections as a potential catalyst in order to find a constructive way for our investments to move forward in Greece.”
Burns appeared optimistic that this year’s elections “will bring a major change in the way investments (in Greece) are viewed, but we have to wait until they are completed.”
In September, Eldorado Gold‘s Greek subsidiary, “Hellas Gold,” filed for compensation of approximately €750 million in damages from the Greek state.
This move came after delays in the issuance of permits for the Skouries mining project, including damages for out-of-pocket costs and loss of profits.
The application for payment is a non-judicial request for payment and does not initiate legal proceedings.
Eldorado Gold halted work at the Skouries and Olympias gold mines of Northern Greece in November of 2017, after the Greek Ministry of Environment and Energy delayed the issuance of certain permits.
The environment minister at the time, Panos Skourletis, claimed that the company’s operations threaten the environment, while the mining company insisted that they had followed all applicable environmental protection regulations.
At the time, Dimitris Dimitriadis, the Managing Director of Hellas Gold, had stated “As long as the largest direct foreign investment in the country does not progress, Greece appears as not being friendly to investments, and this is a wrong message the country is sending.”
International investors and the upcoming elections
It is obvious that the Eldorado Gold chief implied that another government (i.e. conservative New Democracy, based on opinion polls so far) would grant the mining company the permits needed.
International investors are ambivalent about investing in a country which sends mixed signals. The high yield of Greek bonds after the completion of the third bailout program reflects their reluctance.
On the one hand investors see a prime minister declaring the goal to attract investments as the most crucial in bringing Greece back to the path of growth. On the other hand, they see particular ministries putting up barriers on investments.
A recent case in point might be the total denial of the Greek government to allow the establishment of private universities in Greece, which was made without any solid argument in favor of the ban.
The area of investments is a battlefield where the two major political forces will clash in the upcoming elections. The ruling SYRIZA party has just now made the development of the area of the former Athens airport at Hellinikon a priority — a project which has been stalled for almost four years.
On the other hand, the conservative opposition pledges that if they come to power, the two major direct investments, by Lamda Development at Hellinikon, and Eldorado Gold, will be top priorities of their new government.
Still, the question is not who is in power in regards to foreign investments. Political stability is more important than who resides at the Maximos Mansion. Who can guarantee that if New Democracy does comes into power after October, that the conservative party will manage to maintain political stability?
And perhaps most importantly of all, who can guarantee that the red tape which strangles and torments any kind of business activity in Greece, as well as individual Greek citizens, will instantly vanish with a change of government?