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Athens News Agency: News in English, 05-11-11

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] PM urges Japanese investments in Greece, import of Greek farm products
  • [02] KEDKE congress opens in Rhodes
  • [03] Congress on organic cultivations in the Mediterranean

  • [01] PM urges Japanese investments in Greece, import of Greek farm products

    Tokyo (ANA/A. Panagopoulos) -- Greek prime minister Costas Karamanlis on Friday (Greek time) invited Japanese entrepreneurs to invest in Greece, and urged the opening of the Japanese market to Greek farm products, during a lunch in his honour hosted in Tokyo by the Japanese business confederation Keindaren.

    Karamanlis, who outlined to Japanese businessmen the comparative advantages of Greece and the Greek economy, as well as the country's geostrategical position, stressed that "investments and business opportunities in Greece are particularly attractive", and noted the "new environment" that has evolved following the successful organisation of the Athens 2004 Olympic Games and his New Democracy government's political initiatives.

    "I am here, my Japanese friends, to invite you all to join this new environment, to invite you to investigate the opportunities offered by the Greek economy," Karamanlis said.

    He further highlighted Greece's comparative advantages as a European Union member country, the "penetration" of Greek businessses in the Balkan countries and the experience they have acquired, combined with the knowledge of the region's history, as well as the "stable monetary, political and economic environement, the trained labour force, and the modern infrastructures in strategic sectors such as combined transports, telecoms and energy".

    "If the labour-intensive investments in the countries of the Balkans, Black Sea, Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean are combined with capital-intensive investments in Greece, a significant number of business opportunities arise," the Greek premier said, adding that "Greek enterprises are the ideal partner for someone wishing to become active in the region."

    The prime minister spoke in detail on the tourism and shipping sectors while, turning to the agricultural sector, he said that Greek farm production "is characterised by top-quality products such as olive oil, wine and fruit, which comprise the basis of a balanced and healthy diet".

    Given the importance placed by the Japanese people on natural and healthy nutrition, Karamanlis said, "I am certain that the Greek agricultural products can earn the confidence of the Japanese consumers".

    Continuing, the prime minister explained that infrastructures were consistently being improved and upgraded, and made specific reference to the recent inter-state agreements signed by Greece for the construction of natural gas and oil pipelines which, he said, would "render Greece an energy hub".

    He further outlined the "steadily improving investment environment" which, together with the policies being followed by his government, aimed at giving impetus to productivity, increase exports, advance the country's regional development, and reduce inflation.

    "We seek to contain the consumer expenditure of the public sector, rationalise the Public Investments Programme, and substantively promote cooperation between public and private sector so as to boost growth and increase the state revenues," Karamanlis said.

    Outlining the risks and opportunities of the "globalized environment", the premier stressed that "the liberalisation of the markets, promotion of privatisations, use of modern technologies, and development of entrepreneurship compose a new framework of policies that is in a position to advance the dynamism of every economy, Greece's included".

    "The government's primary strategic goal is a State that is closer to the investor, the entrepreneur, the working person, the needy citizen," Karamanlis explained, adding that his government has advanced "a series of measures aimed at rendering the use of new technologies more efficient, to give impetus to productivity and transparency, to reduce bureaucracy, and to boost entrepreneurship".

    "An open, productive, flexible and socially sensitised economic system is the vehicle for attaining a noteworthy growth rate," Karamanlis said.

    He also spoke of a "closer collaboration", through joint materialisation of developmental projects in the developing world, given that Japan is a leading donor in the field of international developmental aid.

    Karamanlis, who also heads Greece's culture ministry, further spoke of cooperatin between the two peoples and between the two countries' academic communities.

    "The prospect of the operation of an Asian Studies Department at the University of Athens, and the promotion of Classical and Modern Greek Studies in Japan, are important cooperation steps," the premier said, adding that the prospect of establishing in Greece a branch of the Japan Foundation should also be examined.

    According to government sources, the Japanese entrepreneurs manifested interest in Greek shipowners continuing to order the construction of their new vessels from Japanese shipyards, while they also expressed interest in the upgrading of the Port of Thessaloniki's role as an "entry gate" for their products to the Balkan countries.

    The Japanese businessmen also spoke "warmly" of the government's speedy tackling of the problems that arose in the past concerning the investment in the Aeolic (wind-energy) Park in Laconia, and Karamanlis, in his address to the Keindaren, put great emphasis on investments in the energy sector (oil pipeline, wind parks, alternative forms of energy).

    The Japanese businessmen posed questions to Karamanlis on the prospect of establishing a direct air link with Athens, opining that such a move could quadruple the number of Japanese tourists to Greece, which is currently estimated at 70,000-100,000 annually.

    Karamanlis explained that a solution was currently being sought for the debt-ridden national carrier Olympic Airlines, but said the decision would be co-assessed on the basis of private-economy criteria.

    Also attending the Keindaren working lunch for the prime minister was a senior-ranking Greek business delegation -- the first such delegation to accompany Karamanlis on an official visit abroad -- comprising the presidents of the Athens and Thessaloniki Chambers of Commerce and Industry, the Federation of Greek Industries and the Federation of Industries of Northern Greece, the Association of Exporters of Northern Greece, the Union of Greek Shipowners, the Hellenic Investments Centre, the Hellenic Exports Promotion Organisation and the HELEXPO trade fair organisers.

    Greece's deputy foreign minister Evrypides Stylianidis, who is responsible for foreign trade and is also accompanying the prime minister on his official visit to Japan, met earlier with the Japanese deputy minister for European affairs and international economic relations, with whom he discussed matters concerning the avoidance of dual taxation, so as to reduce the counter-incentives to exports.

    Interest was also voiced in collaborations in the construction sector, and Karamanlis briefed the Keindaren on the basic principles of the new law on collaborations between public and private sector.

    The business delegation members also held bilateral talks of an "institutional nature" with their Japanese counterparts.

    Earlier, Karamanlis and his wife, Natasha, were received by Japan's Emperor Akihito, with whom he discussed the history of the two countries, their civilizations, the successful organisation of the Athens 2004 Olympic Games, and environmental protection issues.

    The Greek prime minister further met with the speaker of the House of Representatives, Yohei Kono, which, together with the House of Councillors, comprises the bi-cameral Japanese National Diet (parliament). Karamanlis and Kono discussed bilateral and international issues.

    On Friday afternoon (6:00 p.m. Greek time), Karamanlis will hold talks with his host, Japanese prime minister Junichiro Koizumi, and after the scheduled one-hour meeting the two prime ministers will make statements to the press.

    On Saturday, Karamanlis will give a series of interviews to Japanese newspapers and visit the historic city of Nikko. He is due to leave for Athens on Sunday.

    [02] KEDKE congress opens in Rhodes

    The sessions of the congress of The Central Union of Greek Municipalities and Communities (KEDKE) began on the island of Rhodes on Thursday morning with the participation of a record number of local government representatives.

    Taking part in the congress, which will last until Saturday, are about 3,000 representatives of municipalities and communities from all over Greece.

    Discussions will include issues of particular interest to local government, such as institutional changes, taxation decentralisation, metropolitan governance, the new Municipalities and Communities Code and the new electoral law.

    Internal Affairs, Public Administration and Decentralisation Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos opened the sessions of the congress while a greeting was issued by main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) leader George Papandreou.

    Pavlopoulos said the "historic" congress will constitute "the start of a new destiny for local government" and referred to to a series of major issues of concern to local government officials during this period.

    Responding to criticism by Papandreou, Pavlopoulos raised the issue of the election of mayors with 42 per cent from the first round, making it clear that the government did not bring in this adjustment in view of the local government elections in 2006 or by chance, noting that it was included in the New Democracy party's programme from 2003.

    Regarding the right of immigrants to vote touched by Papandreou, the minister said that "illegal immigration is what creates the eneormous problems of exploitation and unemployment." According to the minister, what must be done is a proper immigration policy and legalisation of the immigrants which means that the immigrant will have rights and can work.

    [03] Congress on organic cultivations in the Mediterranean

    The international congress on "organic agriculture in Mediterranean countries, problems and prospects", comes to a close in Hania, Crete on Friday with a visit by the participants to organic agricultural expanses.

    Within the framework of the congress, Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholeoms was honoured for his valuable contribution in ecology and the protection of the environment.

    In a wriiten message to the congress, Agricultural Development and Foods Minister Evangelos Basiakos said that the ministry, "in order to support organic cultivation, has adopted a series of measures and plans for growth per region, so that there may be a viable development of regions which have the suitable proconditions to develop organic agriculture."

    Taking part in the congress are delegates from 15 Mediterranean countries.

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