Microsoft will build technological infrastructure of strategic importance in Greece as Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and the President of the American group, Brad Smith, are expected to announce today.
In order to unlock American investments, especially from technology giants, the government completed several preparatory steps, with perhaps the most important one being the initiative that allowed Greece after many years to leave the "black" list of countries that do not protect copyright laws, allowing public services to use pirated Microsoft software.
Little has leaked about Microsoft's large investment, but what is expected is that Microsoft will install in Greece a data center for the provision of cloud services for central and eastern Europe. This is the continuation of the agreement announced in May 2019 with Deutsche Telekom, OTE's parent company, for the provision of cloud services in a total of nine countries, from Poland to Greece. Microsoft is growing very fast in the field of cloud services and already derives almost one fifth of its revenue from this field.
In Greece, in addition to the installation of the data center that facilitates the provision of services in several European countries in the private and public sector, Microsoft is also looking forward to securing a leading position in cloud services for the public sector.
According to the new Code of Digital Governance, the entire state with the exception of classified systems (Defense - Security) will switch to cloud computing systems, which are considered much more economical and efficient than maintaining internal structures. To this end, the Code provides that the Ministry of Digital Governance will create a digital marketplace for cloud services and applications, in which public sector operators and cloud service providers are registered.
Copyright protection is key
In order to unlock this large investment and other similar ones that will be launched in the near future, the government has been working for many months on creating the right ground. Microsoft, for example, could never place funds in a country that had been on the US government's blacklist of intellectual property issues for years. The government rushed in March to proceed with the legal supply of software to its services, closing this dark chapter, so that Washington could remove Greece from the black list.
Another strategic choice of the government, which indirectly facilitates US investment, was undoubtedly the decision to align the country with the US on the issue of 5G networks, excluding Chinese Huawei from the procedure. As US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced on June 26 after a meeting with the Chinese ambassador, "the current is turning" against Huawi, as eight European countries, including Greece, imposed restrictions to select only “trusted vendors".
The culmination of the upgrading of ties between the two countries in a way that facilitates investments in the country, was the Science and Technology Agreement (STA) signed a few days ago by Mike Pompeo and the Minister of Development, Adonis Georgiadis.
As announced by the US embassy, "the new agreement replaces an older, more general 1980 agreement and includes additional provisions that will protect the intellectual property rights of scientists and researchers." The agreement, according to the same announcement, "opens the way for closer scientific and technological ties between the United States and Greece and will create opportunities that will help address the potentially bad influence in the Greek field of science and technology." The "bad influence" in this case, the Americans define the penetration of mainly Chinese or Russian companies.
Based on the above, it becomes obvious that there are two factors that began to convince the American technology giants - and not only - that Greece is suitable for investment is the government's determination to secure intellectual property rights at all levels, from the field of research as the commercialization of products, as well as the commitment of Greece to curb "bad influences", for the Americans, the penetration of Huawei in the infrastructure of the 5G network. These institutional improvements now allow Greece to take advantage of advantages that could have established it years ago as a major investment destination for American technology companies, such as its strategic geographical location and membership in the European Union and the eurozone, its high level of scientific potential, etc