2013-05-15 18:09:19

Greek premier goes to China

(Vatican Radio) The Greek prime minister, Antonis Samaras, flew off to China today in what is being billed as a major effort to draw foreign investment into the faltering Greek economy.

Samaras said he was confident the Chinese would boost their holdings in Greece, as Greece in turn was offering more exports of olive oil, wine and feta cheese. Travelling with him are some 70 businesspeople determined to widen the Greek market in China. The biggest Chinese holding in Greece right now is the busy container terminal at the port of Piraeus.

Samaras’s trip comes at a time when his power-sharing government here in Athens insists that another corner has been turned in hopefully steering Greece out of its savage economic crisis, now in its sixth year. They point to a steady stream of bailout instalments that they say has all but eliminated the possibility of a Greek exit from the Eurozone.

International comment also has been moderately favourable to Greece lately, crediting the Samaras government with progress in much-needed economic reform, but urging a faster pace.

In response, Samaras this week gave the green light for the privatization of the Greek national power utility. The plan has been on the drawing board for some time, but it’s a tough nut to crack, because previous governments have shrunk from confronting the powerful electricity workers’ union which could paralyse the country with strikes. This time, under EU pressure, Samaras is gambling that his government can pull it off with the minimum disruption.

The media in Athens say that a lot hinges on Samaras’s trip to China. With Greek unemployment now well on the way to hitting a record 30 percent, and public patience with wrenching austerity now worn very thin, Samaras will have to return with a Chinese investment bonus – or face a long, hot summer of discontent.

Listen to John Carr’s report: RealAudioMP3

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