[MGSA-L] Greek business group invited Turks to acquire state assets’

June Samaras june.samaras at gmail.com
Tue Nov 29 22:28:33 PST 2011

‘Greek business group invited Turks to acquire state assets’


28 November 2011, Monday / TODAY’S ZAMAN, İSTANBUL

A key official from a powerful business group in Greece told a
visiting Young Executives and Businessmen’s Association (GYİAD)
delegation last week in Athens that Turkish entrepreneurs should take
advantage of extensive privatization tenders being held in the
financially troubled country as part of its search for cash, the
association said on Monday.

In a statement posted on its website, GYİAD said Athens-based Hellenic
Federation of Enterprises (SEV) International Relations Coordinator
Ioannis Patsiavos, extended an invitation for Turkish businesses to
take part in tenders to acquire Greek state assets including air and
naval ports as well as the country’s postal and telecommunications
services companies.

“We have held talks with Germany, Switzerland, Denmark and China in
relation to the privatization process but [we forgot] there is our
neighbor Turkey, which is highly important for us and standing closest
to us. Twenty-nine airports -- including Athens International Airport
-- public banks, a number of the 3,500 [Aegean] islands, ports,
marinas, highways, railways, energy facilities, telecommunications
firms, water purification facilities, natural gas, lottery and postal
services, mines, refineries, renewable energy production centers, golf
courses, hotels and 100 million square meters of real estate will be
privatized. Nothing will remain as it was in Greece. As Greece’s
largest business organization, we want the business world of our
neighbor Turkey to also benefit from this extensive privatization
opportunity, which includes everything from A to Z,” Patsiavos was
quoted as saying.

Talk of asset acquisition between Turkey and Greece has always been a
matter of heated debate as the neighbors had been each other’s
fiercest foes for a long time. Although their relationship has
progressed in a peaceful and much friendlier direction in the last few
years, they still remain at odds over certain foreign policy issues,
particularly the ongoing matter of Cyprus and the extension of
territorial waters in the Aegean Sea.

An earlier plan by a Turkish businessman to acquire some Greek islands
was met with sharp criticism from certain media outlets in the
southwestern European nation. Opposition newspapers and political
websites led the anti-Turkey rhetoric by expressing their belief that
“Greece will be conquered by the Turks.” Among them, Eleutheri Ora, an
ultra-nationalistic newspaper, argued this in its lead story shortly
after Fikret İnan, chairman of construction company FİYAPI A.Ş.
expressed his intention to buy at least three islands in the Aegean
Sea. The previous Greek government led by former Prime Minister George
Papandreou was accused collectively by the nation’s far-right media of
having a pro-Turkish foreign policy that had opened the door to
Turkish investors.

The planned sales -- from which Greece is expecting to earn 50 billion
euros by 2015 -- have been demanded by Greece’s lenders, the European
Union and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), whose financial
support is of crucial to the survival of the debt-ridden country.  At
present Greece cannot borrow in international bond markets because of
investors’ distrust of its ability to repay its debts on time.

Having so far raised less than 4 percent of the targeted 50 billion
euros in asset sales, Greece now aims to sell gas company DEPA and 35
state buildings by the first quarter of 2012, Costas Mitropoulos, head
of the Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund, the country’s
privatizations agency, said on Monday.

The ongoing market reaction to Greece’s financial capabilities coupled
with a referendum decision Papandreou made late last month over a set
of new austerity measures demanded by the EU and IMF eventually forced
him to resign on Nov.11. Lucas Papademos, a former European Central
Bank vice president, was appointed as the new head of the country’s
executive branch by President Karolas Papoulias the same day.
Papademos now has to show his country’s lenders that it is serious
about living up to its commitment vis-à-vis the substantial financial
assistance it has received from them.


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