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Athens News Agency: News in English, 08-01-11

Athens News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] PM: Potential for growth of Greece-India relations
  • [02] Bush meets Jerusalem Patriarch

  • [01] PM: Potential for growth of Greece-India relations

    New Delhi (ANA-MPA/S. Goutzanis) -- The potential for further developing economic relations and trade between Greece and India was outlined by Greek prime minister Costas Karamanlis, currently on an official visit to India, during a luncheon in his honor hosted by the local business chambers.

    "Greece is an ideal business partner for those wishing to become part of the economic growth of Southeastern Europe. Greece can serve as the entrance gate for Indian enterprises wishing to acquire a presence in the region. In collaboration with Greek enterprises, Indian businesses can extend their access to a region that will show spectacular growth in the coming years," Karamanlis said.

    The prime minister also outlined Greece's advantages, noting its strategic position as it was at the crossroads among Europe, the eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East, and was also the oldest and most experienced EU member country in the region, and the only member of the eurozone.

    Greece, he continued, has evolved into a banking and business hub, and an ideal springboard for the development of investments and business activity in SE Europe, given that more than 3,600 Greek companies and in excess of 2,300 branches of Greek banks were operating in that region.

    As a member of the eurozone, Greece enjoyed a stable political, economic and fiscal environment, he said, adding that the country's deficit had been reduced from 7.9 percent to 2.6 percent, while the rate of economic growth exceeded 4 percent in 2007, and the tax rate on business profits was reduced to 25 percent from 35 percent in 2004.

    The premier further highlighted the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline project, adding that Greece held a strategic position on the East-West energy corridor.

    Further, as a result of its economic policy, unemployment in Greece declined in 2007, while exports increased.

    Listing the specific sectors in which the two countries could dynamically develop their bilateral economic relations, Karamanlis made special mention of the agricultural sector, with particular reference to olive oil production, in which Greece holds third place world-wide.

    Special mention was also made of the shipping sector, with Karamanlis noting that Greece wishes to increase the number of charters of Greek-owned ships for the transport of cargoes from India to markets around the world.

    In the tourism sector, the prime minister said that the target was to increase the flow of visitors between the two countries and to attract more Indian tourists to Greece, adding that a direct flight between Greece and India could contribute in that direction.

    Karamanlis also highlighted sector of renewable energy sources, in which he said Greece offered ideal environmental conditions for the attraction of new investments in 'clean' forms of energy.

    Political relations between Greece and India were excellent, while their economic relations were growing at a rapid pace, Karamanlis said, but added that large margins existed for further improving cooperation.

    He noted that the relevant institutional framework was being firmly and systematically formulated, adding that many agreements have been signed, such as the agreement for the protection and advancement of investments, and that on scientific and technological cooperation.

    The institutional framework between the two countries must be completed, while priority must be placed on the signing of a dual taxation avoidance accord, as well as cooperation on air transport services, Karamanlis continued.

    The target of doubling bilateral trade by 2010 was both feasible and viable, the prime minister concluded.

    Karamanlis, who is accompanied by foreign minister Dora Bakoyannis, minister of state and government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos, and the head of the prime minister's press office Yiannis Andrianos, is also scheduled to meet later with Indian vice-president Hamid Ansari, and his Indian counterpart Manmohan Sing.

    A scheduled meeting with Indian National Congress leader Sonia Gandhi was postponed after Gandhi was admitted to hospital.

    Karamanlis' itinerary further includes the laying of a wreath at the Gandhi Monument and a trip to Agra and the Taj Mahal, after which the prime minister's party will spend the night in Jaipur.

    Morning meetings

    The Greek premier, who arrived in New Delhi on Thursday afternoon on a three-day official visit to India, said earlier on Friday that his visit was an excellent opportunity for further development of bilateral relations and expanding cooperation between Greece and India in the political and economic sectors.

    "I place particular importance on Greece's cooperation with India, country of broad economic and political importance, with an outstanding role on the international scene," Karamanlis said, following his official reception by Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh on Friday morning.

    Karamanlis, who arrived in India on Thursday evening, said that there were many points of mutual interest, and that the two countries had exceptional cooperation in international organisations, adding that they could work jointly to further strengthen EU-India relations.

    "In recent years, our economic relations have entered a new phase, and my presence here will give new momentum to develop them further, to the benefit of both countries," the Greek premier said, adding that "we place great importance on strengthening our cooperation in the fields of education and culture."

    Following the official welcoming ceremony, Karamanlis met with India's external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee, and was received by Indian President Pratibha Patil.

    Caption: Greek prime minister Costas Karamanlis (R), on an official visit to India, with Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh (L) during an official welcoming ceremony. (EPA/H. Tyagi)

    [02] Bush meets Jerusalem Patriarch

    Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos III greeted visiting US President George W. Bush during the latter's visit to Bethlehem on Thursday, welcoming him as a pilgrim to the Holy Land and as a messenger of peace and justice in a land "afflicted with hardships and pain", as he said.

    The Patriarch also wished the US President a successful visit in his efforts to further justice, reconciliation and true lasting peace in the Middle East.

    "We assure you of our prayers for the success of your peace mission," Theophilos added.

    Caption:US President George W. Bush (R) listens to Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem Theofilos III during a visit to the Church of the Nativity, traditionally believed to be the birthplace of Jesus Christ, in the West Bank town of Bethlehem on 10 January 2008. ANA-MPA/EPA/KEVIN FRAYER/POOL

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