(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
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.
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.
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.