by Konstantinos Kollias, Chargé d’Affaires a.i.Romania and Greece have diplomatic relations since the year 1880. The cultural bonds and friendship of the two nations, have been reconfirmed in many occasions throughout the centuries. Looking back into the past, it is not accidental that the first action of the national revolution of the Greeks actually began in the danubian principalities, when Alexandros Ypsilantis, on 22 February 1821, crossed the river Prut. In more recent times, emblematic example is the fact that Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, then Foreign Minister, was the first high-level official who visited Romania right after the revolution of 1989. Many Greeks have lived and prospered in the hospitable romanian land. Especially now the european integration process has given to Greeks and Romanians the opportunity to intensify exchanges and to work together, developing our friendship even further. The two governments continue to engage together and to join efforts to guarantee social and economic progress for the two peoples and to coordinate for the best promotion of their common interests.Romania and Greece are cooperating closely in bilateral, european, euro-atlantic and international level and within the framework of regional organisations and initiatives. Bucharest and Athens share similar positions on the E.U. agenda, such as the Multiannual Financial Framework along with the necessity for a strong Cohesion Policy and the deepening of the Common Market. Greece is one of the steady supporters of the accession of Romania in the Schengen acquis. Both countries, aiming to consolidate stability and development in their common neighbourhood, are carrying a pronounced interest for the Western Balkans and their european perspective and encourage the EU presence in neighbouring areas, especially that of the Black Sea. During the first semester of 2014, Greece will assume the rotating Presidency of the E.U. The Greek Presidency’s agenda, will be focused, among other things, on EU Enlargement, with particular attention to the European perspective of the Western Balkans and of course on further stimulating Growth and Jobs, with attention to the Integrated Maritime Policy, enhancing of competitiveness of the EU businesses, including SME’s, forging common European policies in energy matters and increasing the attractiveness of Europe as a touristic destination. Equal priority will be given also to the topic of Human Mobility, aiming to embed an open and secure European area serving the European citizens by pursuing an EU global approach to migration.
Greek – Romanian economic and commercial relations
Besides the traditional historical and cultural ties between the Romanian and the Greek people and the excellent political relations, the Greek – Romanian economic and commercial bilateral relations are of particular importance for both countries and have proved to be solid over the years. Moreover, Greece is among the top destinations for many Romanian tourists, offering a leisure season throughout the year. In Bucharest are operating a bilateral Chamber of Commerce and Industry and, in the field of tourism, an office of the Greek National Tourism Organisation.Investments – Romania is an important trade and business partner for Greece, which was the sixth largest investor in the Romanian economy at the end of 2012.
Greek companies came in Romania early, since the very beginning of the 90’s, during challenging years of deep changes, because they have trusted the potential of the Romanian economy and society. Instead of waiting for the optimal conditions that the EU entry created in the mid-2000s, they have proceeded to productive investments, investments in services and other economic activities, thus contributing to a faster modernization of the Romanian economy. At the same time when Greece offered a strong support to the accession of Romania to the NATO structures and the EU, the Greek direct investments to the Romanian economy played a positive and decisive role for the Romanian economy.The value of the direct investments (FDIs) from Greece to Romania at the end of 2011, period, for which data is available, was 2.934 billion Euros. According to the estimations of the Greek Embassy, the total Greek investments are higher today, reaching the amount of 4 billion Euros. The number of the registered Greek companies on the 1st of January 2013 was 5.520. In spite of the crisis, a number of 318 new companies with Greek shareholding were registered in Romania during 2012. The spectrum of their activities is broad, covering practically all sectors of the economy and employing over 30.000 people.The presence of Romanian companies with Greek shareholding is very strong in the financial sector, telecommunications, various branches of the manufacturing sector, the retail trade and distribution channels, agriculture and animal breading, health services and medical equipment, consulting, constructions etc.Many Greek companies are continuing their investment programs in productive activities such as food industry, aluminium products processing, agriculture, the health services sector, renewable energy projects etc., while the EU Structural Funds and infrastructure development offer new opportunities for successful business cooperation.Greek business presence in Romania remained stable and developed even further, over the last years. The companies of Greek interests and the Greek banks proved to be solid, resistant and kept their positions. Moreover, the Greek banks committed themselves, when that was necessary, to retain their exposure to the Romanian market and even increased their capital basis.Trade – As Greece and Romania were both affected by the global financial and economic crisis, they are reducing their trade deficit by intensifying export activity. One could say that bilateral commercial relations have become even stronger.
Bilateral trade is balanced and its volume has been stabilized on over 1 billion Euros the last few years.There is a constant interest, expressed every year by the business communities of both countries to participate to international exhibitions that take place in Romania or Greece, or to meet in the framework of business delegations and similar events organized by Chambers of Commerce or exporters associations, in an effort to develop business partnerships of mutual benefit. The historical background and the more recent developments in the relationship of Greece and Romania, show that bilateral relations still maintain a high potential. This dynamism can further be enhanced and organised through the exploitation of the possibilities that EU membership offers to the two countries. The features of the bilateral relationship and international multilevel cooperation, indicate the way to further develop our common political, economic, commercial and cultural agenda, with mutually advantageous results.