There is a word in Greek used to describe someone who can formulate compelling thoughts and persuasive arguments: Ευφραδής (pronounced ev – fra – THEES). Tsipras, Greece’s polarizing prime minister and also its youngest in 150 years, is one of these. Greeks call him an influencer, a go-getter and a charmer. For heads of states who have lent money to Greece or executives of resource companies with projects in the country, he has likely earned a less flattering label.
Despite his youth, he has been politically active for decades, joining the Young Communists Society in high school. After his undergraduate studies in civil engineering, Tsipras ran for mayor of Athens in 2006 and finished third. Within three years, he became leader of the radical left-wing party, Syriza, and gained a seat in Greek parliament. His rise to the prime minister’s seat in late January, despite being the first radical leftist to ever win the election, was not a complete surprise.
He wasted no time making an impression in mining circles by opposing Eldorado Gold’s projects in the country’s northeast, consequently jeopardizing thousands of jobs at a time when unemployment sits at 25 per cent. “After it wins the election, the Syriza government will stop the destruction brought on by Skouries,” Tsipras said last September. He also said lost jobs from the work stoppage would not be a problem because his party planned to create new jobs via special employment programs.
Nevertheless, said Eldorado Gold country manager Eduardo Moura, “We have no intention of leaving Greece.” Eldorado Gold has spent some US$450 million at its Skouries and Olympias projects since 2012 and generated jobs in the country. But the Tsipras government decided in February to revoke the company’s permit authorizing it to finish construction of the processing plant at its Skouries project. A ruling on that decision is pending. In April an estimated 4,000 miners and their supporters gathered in Athens to march against the government’s action.
Even if the ruling is not in Eldorado Gold’s favour, the company is determined to remain active in Greece. Said Moura: “We see Greece as a cornerstone of the company’s future growth and plan to continue our investments in the country.”