BDuring his visit to Athens, unde Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) justified the German government’s decision to approve the partial sale of a terminal in the port of Hamburg to the Chinese shipping company Cosco. This is a “good solution”, said Scholz on Thursday. He pointed out that Cosco was not allowed to take over 35 percent of the terminal, as initially desired by China, but only just under a quarter of the shares. This is “correct, because it is indeed a legitimate concern to say that there should be no false influence on infrastructures,” says Scholz. It’s just about “an operating company in a large port,” said Hamburg’s former mayor.
With the pending minority stake of 24.9 percent, there is “in no way a risk of a “false influence” from China. Hamburg port facilities are state property and “will always remain so and will never be privatized.” With a view to the German economy’s dependence on China, he pointed out that many decisions were currently being made to expand delivery routes.
Greece’s Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis added at the joint press conference that nobody is “naïve when it comes to relations between Europe and China.” Like all his predecessors since 2008, Mitsotakis defended the decision to lease the port of Piraeus to Cosco for up to 40 years leave. Greece stands by what was signed, Mitsotakis said. He pointed to the port’s tremendous growth since the Chinese ruled it. On the issue of political risk, he said, “If you ask me if I’m concerned, no, not particularly.”
Like Konrad Adenauer on his visit to Athens in 1954, Scholz began his stay in the Greek capital with a visit to the Acropolis, during which he was accompanied by Mitsotakis. On the foreign policy issue of tensions with Turkey, which has been dominant in Greece for months, Scholz said that open questions should be resolved “in accordance with international law”. It is not acceptable “that NATO partners question each other’s sovereignty,” said the Chancellor. He did not name Turkey, which has been doing exactly this with Greece for months.
In an interview with the Athens newspaper Ta Nea, Scholz previously criticized Turkey’s “more or less encrypted military threats” towards Athens. Ankara, led by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has repeatedly threatened to invade Greek islands in the Aegean.