Alexandroupolis, Greece (PortSEurope) October 9, 2019 – The Greek government plans to offer the privatisation (by concessions) of Alexandroupolis and Kavala ports at the same time in early 2020.
The reasoning is to allow any parties interested in both ports to join the process more easily. The two ports are just 150 km apart, and both located on the North Aegean coastline of Northeast Greece. Alexandroupolis is located close to the Turkish border and both ports are south of the border with Bulgaria.
Alexandroupolis has been in the news due to the recently updated Mutual Defence Cooperation Agreement (MDCA) signed last weekend by Greece and the USA. Washington is interested in an economic and military presence in Alexandroupolis to forward its geo-political interests in the Eastern Mediterranean, which if successful, would limit the political plans to China and Russia to have more influence.
Washington sees Alexandroupolis port as a key factor, a port which is linked to regional energy development – the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP), Gas Interconnector Greece-Bulgaria (IGB) and the Alexandroupolis LNG facility, which could become an entry point for U.S. liquified natural gas (LNG) into Europe – and the U.S. supports these projects.
The port also has a potential key political role – a port the U.S. sees as an alternative to the Bosporus Straits that connect the Black Sea to the Mediterranean. Washington would like to be involved in any expansion programme at the port and develop its local influence, as well as attempting to exclude any roles for Russia and China. Washington is likely to seek local port infrastructure for some of its miitary forces.
Moscow’s interest is to expand its influence in the Balkan countries and resist efforts by the western countries to develop alternative gas supplies, reducing their dependence on Russia. China has invested huge sums of money to acquire assets and rights of transport in the Mediterranean Sea, mainly ports, as it seeks to secure access routes for Chinese products in European markets. Chinese companies would be keen to have a role bpth ports’ expansion.
The privatised Piraeus and Thessaloniki ports have developed their container capacity to serve the main European markets. Alexandroupolis sees a more regional opportunity – developing itself as a port to serve northern Greece and other countries in the Balkans. This is helped by the recent increase in rail connections which facilitates intermodal cargo traffic.
Piraeus Port Authority is operated by China’s COSCO Shipping Ports Limited.
Thus, to achieve its aims, Washington would be keen to see U.S. companies involved in the Alexandroupolis port privatisation.
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