Dear Ministers, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is an honor to participate in this international trade fair for the World of Industry, where Greece, for the first time, is the official partner country. Moreover, it is with great pleasure that I welcome you as well to the Business Forum that is organised by SEV, the Federation of Greek Industries.
SEV International, the International Affairs’ arm of SEV, aims to actively contribute in strengthening and supporting the presence of Greek companies in global markets. Our goal is to create awareness, to identify opportunities for expanding trade, to intermediate in bringing together business partners and to facilitate synergies and investment flows between the parties. At the same time, we envisage to promote the attractiveness of our country as a destination for foreign investments.
After the successful organization of the Athens 2004 Olympic Games, Greece founds itself in the crossroad of global business interest. In the post Olympic era, international economic players are considering re-directing projects and ventures towards our country. Our objective is to increase this interest, maintain high growth rates and to achieve improved competitiveness standards.
WIN Fair 2005 enables us to present to delegates from all over the world the new profile of Greek entrepreneurship, which opens up to global competition under profitable grounds and terms. Today and for the following three days, Greece will be in the center of interest in an International Fair, successfully organized by Hannover Messe for so many years, which attracts visitors and professionals from Eurasian markets.
WIN Fair 2005 also gives us the opportunity to further strengthen existing partnerships and create new ones with our neighbors in Turkey for WIN-WIN relations. I am positive that the Business Forum, which will follow shortly and will be continued tomorrow under the moderation of Mrs. Mitrogiannopoulou, will succeed in both these objectives.
Turkey always represented an attractive market for Greece. During the last decade, the bilateral economic relations remained stagnant and beyond existing potentials due to the overall political climate. Fortunately enough, we have experienced in the recent years significant progress in the Greek – Turkish relations, which provide for a better platform for business cooperation.
Greek entrepreneurs have exploited opportunities to expand their activities in Turkey, by forming joint ventures with their Turkish counterparts and creating profitable collaborations. Nonetheless, until today, the Greek business community has not fully exploited the possibilities that the Turkish market has to offer. This is confirmed by the figures in our bilateral trade which show that Turkish exports to Greece are well advanced in relation to Greek exports to Turkey.
But why Turkey is an important partner in international economic relations? For many reasons. The most important ones are related to Turkey’s strategic position, its large domestic market and its European bonds. Like Greece, Turkey is the natural bridge between East and West, between Asia and Europe. On the other hand, addressing a consumer population over 60 millions and even a larger one, if you add the regional markets of Caucasus, can provide serious motivation and encouragement to overpass any obstacles and difficulties. It is worthwhile to mention that, according to recent survey among SEV’s members, the Turkish market is reportedly classified as one of the first expansion priorities for Greek companies.
Building closer economic and business ties between Greece and Turkey is essential, for practical and strategic reasons. Increasingly, bilateral agreements regulate important aspects of mutual relations by reducing barriers to trade, investment and travel. The most important one is the banning of double taxation, a reform that removed a significant obstacle for international business development which was pending for a long time. TUSIAD and SEV played a significant role in getting the respective Governments to agree.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Today, Greece and Turkey have to face increased challenges in the international business arena. New opportunities arise, new economic environments are formed. The Euroasian region, as a gateway between the new Europe and the East, has started to show an increase in investment and economic growth. Countries of this area have tremendous economic potential – important energy reserves, transit links, and educated and creative populations. Their decision to open markets will eliminate barriers and will create, step by step, a stable and predictable investment climate.
Therefore, this internationalization process is increasing opportunities for trade and investments for both Greece and Turkey. In a sensitive period of unpredictable factors in national and international politics in the eastern Mediterranean and in the wider region – the Balkans, the Black Sea and Caucasus and the Middle East, both countries can share a significant role in the Euroasian marketplace. They should only be reminded that their common interests lie in sustaining their rapprochement and building upon it.
In this Greek-Turkish economic partnership in the Euroasian region, both sides enjoy competitive advantages:
Moreover, Greece and Turkey are neighboring countries. This proximity means lower transportation costs, competitive prices, direct communication, easier connections, and frequent contacts, all of them being essential for business.
By joining forces, Greece and Turkey can play a prominent role in the modernization and economic growth of the Euroasian region. We are far more likely to achieve these shared goals if we work together. Our Forum today is a clear indication that our business communities already grasp this objective and are motivated by the desire to build stronger economic relations that benefit us all. We can be partners! Let us all commit to expanded cooperation and long-lasting partnerships.
I wish all the participants a successful and fruitful Forum.