Connecting the Cyclades islands with the power grid on the mainland is a project with an important role, not only for the Cyclades but also for Greek society as a whole, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said on Monday. The prime minister made the statement during a working meeting with the Mayor of Syros Giorgos Marangos, local government officials and the Employees' Association at the Neorion Shipyard in Syros.

The prime minister said he was particularly pleased that Greece was able to remove bureaucratic obstacles and accomplish a task that should have been completed decades earlier, greatly improving the development prospects of the Cycladic islands and decreasing the islands' environmental footprint.

With the completion in two years time of the next phases of the project, whose first phase is being launched on Monday, the estimated savings are forecast to reach 3.0 billion euros over a space of 20 years, Tsipras said. He noted that there would be considerable relief for consumers, as energy costs are shared among all residents of the country, and the savings generated will thus benefit the whole country, not just the residents of island regions. He also noted the environmental benefits, the prospects for tourism development and energy efficiency. When the project was fully completed and all the Cyclades islands were supplied by the central power grid there will be very significant growth momentum, Tsipras said.

The prime minister said that tourism will be a driving force for the economy, while the Cyclades islands play a leading role in Greek tourism. At the same time, he added, the Cyclades should not be about tourism only and action should be taken to strengthen the developmental advantages of the Greek islands. He pointed out that the regional conference on remodelling production in the South Aegean after Easter will provide an opportunity to discuss the region's potential and prospects, since only close cooperation between central and local government can create new prospects for Greece.

The prime minister also referred to the Neorion shipyard on Syros, saying he was pleased that "after great efforts and great difficulties, Greece managed to find a solution," for reopening them. He expressed optimism the shipyard will be able to resume production in 2-3 months, providing "tangible proof that we really are emerging from the crisis."

The mayor welcomed Tsipras and said that the project linking the islands to the main power grid will give them a new momentum. During the meeting, he raised a number of issues concerning Syros, including the reopening of the historic Neorion shipyard.