PM’s Qatar trip seen as first step to major deals

On the second day of a visit to Qatar, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras on Wednesday sought to project an image of Greece as an investor-friendly country.

“We can give fresh momentum to investments and business opportunities,” Samaras said, adding, “We are in favor of entrepreneurship and against bureaucracy.”

He was speaking ahead of the first session of a new bilateral business council and a day after Athens and Doha agreed to put 1 billion euros each into a fund to support small and medium-sized businesses in Greece.

Samaras met with the Qatari Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani on Wednesday after talks on Tuesday with Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim Al Thani.

Government sources said the focus had been on realistic plans rather than ostentatious projects that might fall through, a clear reference to the decision by Doha to drop its bid for the development of the site of Athens’s former international airport at Elliniko.

The sources said the Qataris are interested in the construction and energy sectors as well as in developing regional airports and ports.

Athens is counting on European Union officials to show some flexibility on the issue of bilateral agreements and may seek its 1-billion-euro share in the bilateral SMEs fund from the European Investment Bank.