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Meanwhile in Greece...

NEWS STORY
03/08/2012

As Greek minister gives his support to a Grand Prix in his country, Bernie Ecclestone makes a rare foray into political discussion.

In a statement on Thursday, Alternate Minister of Education, Religious Affairs, Culture and Sports, Costas Tzavaras, gave his support to the prospect of a Grand Prix in his country.

"In this critical point for our country, every effort that promotes Greece and attracts international interest is welcome and deserves our support," he said.

"The prospect of holding Formula 1 races in the Municipality of Drapetsona in Piraeus raises expectations for upgrading our tourism product through the promotion of the historic port of Piraeus and the reformation of the broader area. In parallel, such prospect shall contribute in the creation of new job positions and shall positively place our country anew on the international stage.

"The main priority of this Government is to create instruments of development - and similar initiatives move towards this direction."

Like Valencia (ugh!), Piraeus is a port city, located around 10 miles form Athens. With a history dating back to ancient Greece, Piraeus is the largest passenger port in Europe and the third largest in the world. In both 1896 and 2004 it hosted events as part of the Summer Olympics.

With a sporting heritage that stretches way back, today the city boasts a number of impressive venues and is host to a number of the country's leading sports teams.

Along with the press release from Tzavaras came a timeline indicating that the idea of an F1 race in Greece was first seriously mooted in June 2011. In October, officials approached the FIA with the proposal of a race in Drapestona, one of the harbours in Piraeus, officially presenting its bid a month later.

In December, Mr Vassilis Despotopoulos met with Bernie Ecclestone at the FIA Awards in New Delhi, at which time Greece's candidature for hosting a race in Drapestona was formally announced.

Due to the financial crisis in the country, all went quiet until May this year when the complete proposal for the event was presented to Ecclestone and the FIA by architect Thanasis Papatheodorou.

After his proposal was warmly received by Ecclestone and Todt, the Mayor of Keratsini-Drapetsona, Loukas Tzanis, told Espresso: "We are very optimistic and hopeful that all will end well. Building a F1 race track in our region is the best thing that could happen, since it would become a means of development for all of the country."

As can be seen from the latest press release, the project now has the blessing of the government.

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