The new narrative being promoted by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras regarding growth and investment has taken a battering over the last few days, while the handling of the oil spill in the Saronic Gulf has further tarnished the government’s image.
According to sources, Tsipras had decided to start the new political season by trying to adopt a more centrist approach and moving toward the ground that is occupied by New Democracy and its leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis, particularly with regard to investment and growth issues.
However, the government had not expected a reaction from Eldorado Gold like the one last Monday, when the Canadian firm threatened to pull out of its Halkidiki project. Also, the repeated delays by the Central Archaeological Council (KAS) have put the investment at Athens’s former airport in Elliniko at risk.
Regarding the oil spill, which occurred after a tanker sank off the coast of Salamina, near Piraeus, government spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos defended how authorities have handled the accident.
“A major effort is being made and the situation is improving daily,” he told Skai TV yesterday. However, some 300 tons of fuel oil is estimated to have spilled into the sea, leading to swimming being banned on several beaches in southern Athens.
The environmental damage caused by the spill, as well as accusations that authorities did not react quickly enough, has led to calls for Shipping Minister Panayiotis Kouroublis to be fired. Tzanakopoulos, however, defended the cabinet member and Tsipras’s decision not to take action, saying the prime minister would assess matters once the cleanup operation has been completed.
“This is not the time to apportion blame,” said the government spokesman. “Mr Kouroublis did what he had to do: He initiated the mechanism as quickly as possible and I think that, operationally, the handling of the situation is the best it could be.”