Dimitris Routos, vice-chairman of the governing board of Thessaloniki Port Authority discusses his conclusions concerning the significance of Greek ports in the planning of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), in an interview with Athens-Macedonian News Agency (AMNA).
[Photo: Piraeus Port Authority Photo Gallery]
The conclusions he reached concerning the significance of Greek ports in the planning of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), discusses Dimitris Routos, vice-chairman of the governing board of Thessaloniki Port Authority, in an interview with Athens-Macedonian News Agency (AMNA).
Greece holds its own place on the map of the three ocean-based “blue economic passages”, recently characterized by Beijing as key to the success of the Belt and Road Initiative, notes Routos following the discussions and contacts he recently had in Ningbo, during the 3rd International port cooperation conference under the title “3rd Maritime Silk Road Port International Cooperation Forum”, which was also attended by Konstantinos Moutzouvis, maritime attaché at the Greek consulate in Shanghai. This is mainly due to the port of Piraeus. In contrast, the port of Thessaloniki remains largely unknown, with the prospect, however, of playing - in the future and under certain conditions - an important role as an access point for Chinese commodities to reach the markets of south-eastern Europe.
“In all the slides that the Chinese side presented at the conference concerning its planning, Greece featured on the map, through the port of Piraeus, which mainly interests them in terms of transshipment from large to smaller vessels with which commodities can reach their final destination. Unfortunately, they do not know Thessaloniki. I presented it as a port, which, due to its geographical location can serve the Balkan countries and they showed great interest. Indeed, it is quite possible that a Memorandum of Cooperation between the port of Thessaloniki and the port of Ningbo or that of Guangzhou may be signed in the future. In any case, Thessaloniki can claim such a role only if the port is upgraded technologically and acquires the necessary road and rail connections so that containers can immediately be loaded on trucks or trains,” notes Routos, speaking to AMNA.
The “blue economic passages” through which China seeks to implement the BRI initiative are three: the first is the China-Indian Ocean-Africa-Mediterranean passage moving westward; the second is the China-Oceania-South Pacific passage and the third will connect Europe with the Arctic Ocean.
The Forum at Ningbo, which was attended by representatives of Europe's most important ports (Hamburg, Antwerp, Rotterdam, Barcelona), as well as by executives from the largest companies in the port industry, was of wide interest as participants discussed the future of the world’s ports: “Cooperation and technological upgrading”, were the two key concepts, according to Routos.
“Great emphasis was placed on combined transport and cooperation - between different ports, between ports and shipping companies, between ports, shipping companies and carriers - so that a large ship would make precise calls at different ports without having to stay on the roads at all, thus saving time and money,” explains the vice-chairman of the Thessaloniki Port Authority.