Eldorado Gold treated as Conqueror. Left ambivalence to investors will be tamed by pressure and need.
The news about the major investment in Chalkidiki by the Canadian company is not encouraging about the other big projects going on in Greece through privatizations mainly.
However, in our view the investment will go on if the company finds it still attractive even if the stand off with the government had taking this week a highly political dimension. This have entered even the political game between the left government and the newly elected leader of the center right main opposition party.
Kyriakos Mitsotakis had summoned the government about its inconsistences in investment politics and reassured the company’s CEO who he had visited him prior to the the Minister that he would work in favor of the investment.
The infuriated Minister made consequently very aggressive declaration about the CEO behaving like a colon in a third world country etc.
According to the daily Kathimerini the meetiing between Environment Minister Panos Skourletis and Eldorado Gold CEO Paul Wright, in the wake of the firm’s decision to suspend some of its mining activity in northern Greece, failed to result in any progress. “We had an honest discussion with Mr Wright,” Skourletis also said he asked the Eldorado official whether the company, which he accuses of not having paid any tax in Greece since 2007, wanted to withdraw because of the falling price of gold. “We are here as investors and not to get involved in politics,” said Wright after the meeting, which is said to have taken place in a tense atmosphere. “We were given the chance to explain our decision.” There was no indication from the firm that it plans to reverse its decision and a plan was being put in place from Tuesday for 500 workers to be dismissed. Miners protested outside the Environment Ministry. Skourletis pledged that the pending license for the mine in Olympias would be examined within a legally acceptable timetable.
In any case the controversy about this particular investment that poses a high environmental burden for all stakeholders has been politicized from the beginning and part of the strategy of the left party in now in government. In the wake of the new politics of normalization of its relations with the creditors and European standards this investment will have a long way to go before its fully integration on the social tissue of the region and its acceptance by political forces still active in the SYRIZA party.
The ominous reaction of the minister can be interpreted as a showdown of resistance before giving the license to go on with the investment. The odds are not the best but the company seems to know from its experience in other countries how to deal with governments and social conflicts.