In a bid to bolster his new pro-investment narrative amid signs that two major foreign projects face serious obstacles, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras Wednesday chaired an “investment task force.”
The task force, the creation of which Tsipras had heralded during a visit to Athens last week by French President Emmanuel Macron, convened just a few hours after employees of Hellas Gold protested outside the Environment Ministry in Athens following threats by the Canadian parent company Eldorado Gold to suspend its operations in Greece due to government delays in issuing operating licenses.
The Hellas Gold projects were discussed by the task force on Wednesday, as was a stalled investment at Elliniko, the site of the capital’s former international airport in southern Athens, which a Greek-Arab-Chinese consortium aims to transform into luxury real estate.
Later in the day, the government approved two licenses for one of Hellas Gold’s projects in Halkidiki. Though several more licenses remain pending, particularly for a project in Skouries, the move was expected to ease tensions between the government and the company.
The Elliniko outlook remained unclear though, amid indications the Central Archaeological Council (KAS) aims to declare part of the site of archaeological interest, which would obstruct the consortium’s construction plans. KAS had been due to convene on Wednesday but the meeting was postponed, the second time in a week.
Commenting Wednesday, conservative New Democracy declared that the government is scaring away investors despite Tsipras’s claims that his administration is pro-investment. “In two days Tsipras is destroying the two biggest investments in the country,” ND spokesman Vassilis Kikilias said. “Yesterday it was Skouries, now it is Elliniko,” Kikilias said, noting that obstacles to the projects could put thousands of jobs on the line.