ATHENS, May 13 (Xinhua) -- Yannis Lagoudakis, Mayor of Greek municipality of Perama, was one of the locals who did not warmly welcome the change of hands at Piraeus port at first, fearing the privatization of the state-run harbor.
After the stunning upgrade of Piraeus Container Terminal (PCT) in recent years and the harmonious cooperation with Chinese investors, today he is convinced that Sino-Greek collaboration at Piraeus port is promising and beneficial, he told Xinhua in a recent interview at his office.
A large part of the port run by COSCO SHIPPING subsidiary PCT is within the boundaries of Perama municipality, a region suffering from unemployment and poverty long before the debt crisis hit Greece in late 2009.
For decades, many locals worked at the shipping industry, in particular shipbuilding. They feared that foreign investors would erase any prospect of revival of a once thriving sector.
However, the image of PCT seven years after the Chinese took over control has changed many peoples' minds. Brand new cranes set on extended piers and major multinationals who have chosen the port as a key transport hub for their products have breathed new life in the port.
A year after COSCO SHIPPING also acquired the majority stake in Piraeus Port Authority (PPA), Lagoudakis talks about an excellent cooperation with the investors.
According to the Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund, the total value of the PPA agreement amounts to 1.5 billion euros until the expiration of the concession in 2052.
PPA's privatization will help create 125,000 jobs, showed a survey of the Foundation for Economic and Industrial Research, one of Greece's leading think tanks.
As a member of the Board of Directors of PPA while it was still under Greek state control, Lagoudakis objected to the port's privatization, believing that local society would benefit more if operations improved with the port remaining under state control.
"Today thinking realistically after the completion of the sale of PPA, we must cooperate and act to the benefit of local economy and Greek economy. In this sense we are in contact with COSCO SHIPPING's managers from the start. Our cooperation is excellent and in many levels I would say promising," Lagoudakis told Xinhua.
"Shipbuilding is of vital significance to our region, since the local economy heavily depends on the development of the shipping industry and in particular the shipbuilding sector," he added.
The mayor voiced optimism that Greece can play an important role in the Belt and Road Initiative to the benefit of Greeks, Chinese and the world.
He said the revival of the Silk Road in this era of globalization will offer Greece the opportunity to become "a key hub between China and the rest of Europe."
"I believe that Greece's friendship with China can bring only positive results. I believe the Greek government is right when trying to deepen bilateral cooperation," he added.