Cosco Shipping’s $675-million investment plan for the port of Piraeus was deemed to be a huge deal in Greece’s modern history, however ancient history may stand in the way. After a lengthy meeting on 2 April, Greece’s Central Archaeological Council (KAS) characterised a large part of Piraeus as an area of archaeological interest that must be protected.

The Council voted unanimously against Chinese plans to construct a mall next to a new cruise ship terminal, whereas restrictions were also placed on the construction of a 5-star hotel on the southern section of the central port beside the main cruise terminal. Another plan that is under threat includes the operation of a 300,000 tonne capacity dry dock in Psyttalia, an industrial area.

The extension of the archaeological zone now threatens relations between the Chinese multinational and the government. The decision will result in an 8-month delay to investments, say sources from Cosco. These will add to the two-and-a-half years worth of delays since the privatisation of the Piraeus Port Authority.

The port’s management may see the recent decision as a blow, however it has proceeded with the presentation of a new master plan to a Shipping and Island Policy-led committee that includes different parties including the Culture ministry. It can also appeal to the Council of State for the cancellation of the KAS decision.