Silk Road Belt Shaping Up in Greece and Balkans

December 2, 2014

The Chinese are moving forward on the Greece-Balkans link in their New Silk Road and Maritime Silk Road policy. Last week the Chinese shipping company, Cosco, signed a deal with the Greek government allowing them to invest EU230 million euros into the Piraeus Port Authority, where Cosco is leasing the container port. The new investment will allow Cosco to start expansion work on its western side of the port that will raise the total capacity of its container terminal to 7.2 million teu per annum by 2021 (teu is an acronym for "twenty-foot equivalent unit," a measure used for container cargo shipping).

This expansion will make Piraeus the biggest Mediterranean port in terms of cargo traffic and Asia's main port of entry into Europe. The deal has to be ratified by the Parliament.

In addition to Piraeus, the New Silk Road will pass through the Balkans, where the Chinese are implementing projects worth over EU3.5 billion in Serbia, Montenegro, and Hungary to improve rail and road infrastructure.

The Greek daily Kathimerini reports on the

"Chinese plan titled 'New Silk Roads,' one of which, the `21st Century Maritime Silk Road,' passes through Piraeus. This will be the topic of discussion at a summit in Belgrade where China's Premier Li Keqiang will participate along with the leaders of Southeastern Europe in mid-December."

On the eve of the summit Prime Minister Li Keqiang was named honorary citizen of Belgrade. According to InSerbia news network, Belgrade Mayor Sinisa Mali said she appreciated Premier Li's efforts in supporting Belgrade's development. The Zemur-Borca Bridge, which has been financed by the Chinese government, will be opened at the end of December.