Greece concludes the sale of Piraeus Port Authority to China COSCO Shipping Corporation, while striking dockworkers protest against the country's second major privatisation since late last year. As David Pollard reports, it comes as Greece and its creditors try to inch towards a deal to release the next tranche of Greece's bailout funds.
Greece and China seal the deal - for 368 million euros. The port of Piraeus handed over to China COSCO as part of Athens' move to privatise key assets. Though - after an airport leasing deal with Germany - this is only the second major privatisation since late last year. And in the eyes of striking dockworkers, it's more of a giveaway. (SOUNDBITE) (Greek) PRESIDENT OF GREEK FEDERATION OF PORT WORKERS, GEORGE GEORGAKOPOULOS, SAYING: "We want to say to them that they can sign and sell the cranes and the docks but they cannot sell the people and our souls." The sale was halted by prime minister Alexis Tsipras's government when it won elections last year - but then resumed as a condition of an 86 billion euro bailout tranche from creditors. SOUNDBITE (Greek) GREEK PRIME MINISTER, ALEXIS TSIPRAS, SAYING: "It comes at a crucial period for Greece, at the end of a very difficult era and at the beginning of a more optimistic one." Best known recently perhaps as a focal point of Greece's migrant crisis, Piraeus handled nearly 17 million passengers the year before last. And 3.6 million container units. Under the agreement, China COSCO will invest 350 million euros in the port over the next decade. Even if for economists, it still puts little gloss on Greece's bid to manage its debt crisis fallout. SOUNDBITE (English) IG SENIOR ANALYST, CHRIS BEAUCHAMP, SAYING: "We clearly see the next iteration of the Greek crisis coming through. We've had comments this week suggesting we might get a snap election - that could destabilise the situation all over again. We could be back to where we were last year where Greece is concerned." But hopes are high that an agreement on more economic reforms is close in talks between Greece and its creditors. That is if a reported rift between the IMF and the EU - on just how tough those reforms should be - can be settled first.