German deputy chancellor to visit following Putin, Valls

Germany’s Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel is scheduled to visit Greece on June 30 as part of the Greek government’s wider effort to draw capital and promote privatizations, two fronts in urgent need of momentum.

Gabriel, head of the Social Democratic Party, part of Germany’s grand coalition, will, according to sources, be joined by MPs and entrepreneurs interested in energy-sector deals, especially renewable energy.

Gabriel’s visit to Athens will be the third in a month by a top foreign government official following the recent visits by Russian president Vladimir Putin and French prime minister Manuel Valls. Though both Putin and Valls had included energy on their agendas, no groundbreaking developments were achieved.

Germany is particularly interested in wind energy investments. The country’s interest was made clear in 2011 when Greece’s ex-finance minister Giorgos Papaconstantinou had proposed an ambitious plan, dubbed “Ilios”, for export of Greek solar energy to Europe. Also, joint Greek-German RES investments had been discussed in 2014 during a meeting in Berlin between Greece’s former foreign minister Evaggelos Venizelos and Gabriel. However, no further progress was made. Former energy minister Yiannis Maniatis, in other Greek-German talks, had looked into the possibility of establishing a superfund to provide funds for eco-friendly upgrades of buildings. German bank KfW, Maniatis had noted at the time, was planning to contribute 100 million euros to this fund. However, national elections intervened and the initiative was halted.

Besides RES interests, German officials are also keeping a close watch on matters such as the TAP and IGB pipelines, the EU’s energy policy, as well as climate change issues amid the environmental targets set for 2030.