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PASOK laments Astakos pullout

Despite apparent rifts it in its ranks, the government attempted yesterday to put on a brave face after the collapse of a multimillion-euro Qatari investment project in western Greece, insisting that this would not undermine another major deal with the Arab state. «The private investment in Astakos, which was unfortunately canceled, bears no relation to the memorandum of cooperation [for investments worth 5 billion euros] recently signed between Greece and Qatar in New York,» State Minister Haris Paboukis, who is in charge of finding foreign investment for Greece, told Kathimerini. Paboukis, along with Deputy Foreign Minister Spyros Kouvelis, had played a key role in setting up the deal in March. Two Qatari state companies had agreed to construct and operate a liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal and an electricity plant at the port. The investment was estimated to be worth 10 billion euros. However, a letter from the Qatari Energy Ministry on Tuesday said the firm no longer deemed the investment to be profitable. No further details were given but industry insiders said that the deal had been ill-conceived from the start as proper financial calculations had not been made and it was not clear who the LNG would be sold to. There were suggestions within the government that the Qatari firms had been put off by the concerns that Environment Minister Tina Birbili expressed about the environmental impact of the project. Yesterday, Birbili said the project was «a private investment that had not been prepared properly.» New Democracy and the Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) accused the government of failure, whereas the Communist Party and the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) celebrated, as they had been opposed to the project.

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