Just a day after Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras declared that Greece was “thirsty” for foreign investments, the Canadian mining company heading one of the biggest investments in the country threatened on Monday to suspend its Greek operations, citing government delays in issuing permits.
Eldorado Gold said it will suspend its activities in Greece from September 22 unless the required permits are issued without further delay. “It is extremely unfortunate to find ourselves at this impasse when we should be advancing an important commercial project in partnership with Greece and adding another 1,200 jobs to our current workforce of approximately 2,400 people in Greece,” the company’s president, George Burns, said.
“This is not a decision that we have taken lightly,” he said, noting that the non-approval of environmental impact studies and the government’s declared intention to resolve disputes through arbitration were also of concern. “Approvals must not be held hostage to political posturing or other agendas put forward by a vocal minority,” he said.
Noting that the Council of State has confirmed the legitimacy of Eldorado’s activities with 18 decisions, Burns said he was open to dialogue with the government.
The developments prompted vehement reactions across the political spectrum. Interior Minister Panos Skourletis said the move by Eldorado might be an attempt to “exert pressure,” while Nikos Karanikas, an adviser to Tsipras, wrote on Facebook that the company should “Go to hell!”
The leader of conservative New Democracy, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, said the government was sending a negative message to foreign investors. “SYRIZA has for years done everything to stop the investment,” Mitsotakis said. “The government, with its usual cynicism, is playing political games on the backs of ordinary people who are losing their jobs,” he said.
In an interview with Kathimerini on Sunday, Burns had said the company will “exhaust all legal means to get the necessary permits to operate in Greece.”
“If our differences cannot be sorted out in a friendly manner, I will do whatever it takes to defend our shareholders’ and our employees’ interests,” he said.