By DEREK GATOPOULOS Associated Press
ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Microsoft has announced plans to build three data center sites in greater Athens, providing a badly needed investment of up to $1 billion to the Greek economy which has been hammered by the pandemic.
The news was announced Monday by the U.S. tech giant and Greek Prime Minister Mitsotakis and follows nine months of confidential negotiations for an agreement that also includes digital-skills training programs for some 100,000 government and private sector workers as well as educators and students.
“This significant investment is a reflection of our confidence in the Greek economy, in the Greek people and the Greek government,” Microsoft President Brad Smith said at a ceremony held in the Acropolis Museum, facing the ancient site in central Athens. “It’s not something we do often and it’s not something that we do lightly.”
Greece recently emerged from a years-long financial crisis but its economy has been hard hit by the pandemic, suffering a 15.2% drop in output on the year in the second quarter. Unemployment in June climbed to 18.3% from 16.4% at the start of the year.
According to budget figures submitted to…