Qatar hasn’t turned its back on Greece

Just a few days after the collapse of a multimillion-euro Qatari investment project in western Greece, visiting officials from the Arab state yesterday reassured the government that they were keen to invest some 5 billion dollars (the equivalent of 3.7 billion euros) in other projects in Greece. A joint statement issued yesterday evening after a meeting in Athens between members of a newly established bilateral committee expressed Qatar’s «firm intention to proceed with investments in Greece of up to 5 billion US dollars.» The meeting was chaired by Minister of State Haris Paboukis, who is in charge of finding foreign investment for Greece, and Ahmad al-Sayed, chief executive of the Qatar Investment Authority. According to sources, the issue of the thwarted investment at Astakos was not broached during the talks. According to the original pact, two Qatari state companies had agreed to construct and operate a liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal and an electricity plant at the western port. The deal, which would have been worth some 10 billion euros, was called off by the Qatari Energy Ministry which said the two firms had concluded that the investment would not be profitable in the long term. Yesterday’s talks – which are believed to have touched on the possible development of the former Athens airport at Elliniko, south of Athens, as well as other likely projects – were also attended by Environment Minister Tina Birbili. According to sources, the government wants to ensure that any project agreed upon does not result in damage to the coastal environment. Speaking after the meeting, which lasted nearly two hours, Paboukis declared that Greece’s relations with Qatar «remain excellent despite everything that is being written and said.»

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