Merchant Marine Minister Manolis Kefaloyiannis announced yesterday the construction of jetty No 6 at the port of Thessaloniki, as part of a 98-million-euro program funded by a 3-billion-euro protocol that the ministry has signed with the European Investment Bank. The minister met in Thessaloniki with officials from Dubai Ports Worldwide (DPW) and P&O Ports, following meetings held in Dubai with United Arab Emirates’ officials and entrepreneurs about investments in Greece in shipping, trade and tourism. In Thessaloniki, the Arabs’ interest is focused on partnerships in investment to promote their interests in the region, one of which is to help in the development of a container station. The same officials earlier visited Crete and inspected the area of Timbaki where the ministry proposes the creation of an international transit center on an 8.5-square kilometer plot. «DPW is examining the possibility of boosting infrastructure for the development of the port of Timbaki,» the ministry stated. DPW is the biggest port management company in the world, handling more than 36 million containers around the world and managing more than 100 ports worldwide while making investments in tourism, energy, high technology and banking. The Timbaki port development plan is especially interesting as it can also be combined with air transport, as it includes the use of a 3.5-kilometer runway. In November, the China Ocean Shipping (Group) Co, also known as COSCO, stated it, too, had set its sights on Timbaki for the creation of a transit center. The Arabs have also expressed interest in Drapetsona, in Piraeus, where an international trade and shipping center is to be created. «Within this context, I think we have a unique opportunity to make Greece the center of transit trade, not only for the Balkans but also for Southeastern Europe, the Black Sea and North Africa,» Kefaloyiannis said. He added that «this includes Crete, of course, as we are seeking to develop the port of Timbaki as a place where commodities from the Middle East, the Far East and particularly China, will stop in transit throughout the Mediterranean and the whole of Southern Europe.» Asked about interest from any other country besides China, Kefaloyiannis said that in early June, on the occasion of the Poseidonia exhibition, many foreign officials are to arrive in Greece and that discussions on the development of Greek ports will continue. «We are very optimistic; we will have positive results for Greek development through further developing our ports,» concluded Kefaloyiannis.