The Greek Prime Minister returned from his trip to China, bearing a deal with the Chinese government for the extension of the ports of Piraeus and Thessalonica, to which 100.000 container-loads of Chinese goods are to be brought by sea. This is the same number of container ships that were supposed to arrive at a new harbour, to be built in cooperation with the Chinese government, in Tymbaki in southern Crete.
The construction of the harbour had been announced by government spokesmen and in the press, on several occasions before the Prime Minister’s trip to China. It had even been mentioned that Tymbaki harbour was among the items on his agenda for discussion. So what happened to the agenda? Was the subject discussed, and if so, what are the prospects for this project that raised southern Cretan hopes of much-needed development?
Shortly before the New Year, the Minister of Mercantile Marine, Mr Kefaloyiannis, visited the Mesara region and spoke at Tymbaki concerning the new harbour. Tymbaki is known for its greenhouses and early fruit and vegetables, which are exported to many European countries. Recently, the area was also mentioned in connection with Chinese government interest in the construction of a large harbour for Chinese goods, which would then be transported to the south-eastern Mediterranean.
During his visit to Tymbaki, the Minister spoke of a very important project, one of the greatest development projects in Greece over the next few years, and a “golden opportunity” for Tymbaki and the Mesara. The project was to boast a 500-million-euro budget, an amount already earmarked by the Ministry. The Minister also mentioned a free trade zone in the area, to which major companies could transfer their production lines. He added that the harbour would create 800 jobs and change the face of southern Crete, creating a development hub like the large cities in the north of the island.