Greece celebrates the 195th anniversary of the outbreak of the National Revolution for Independence against the Ottoman rule, on the 25th of March. In Romania, this adds a special value for us Greeks, since the first heroic battles of the Hellenic Revolution took place here, in Dragasani and Focsani. Of outmost importance, indeed, is the fact that the struggle for the Greek Independence started in the Principalities, because it was planned and supported by “Filiki Etaireia”, a Hellenic patriotic association membered by the prosperous and influential diaspora. Nowadays, there remains a small but still flourishing Hellenic community, contributing remarkably to the progress of both our countries.
As a result of our longstanding friendly relations and our historic and cultural ties, our high-level political cooperation is growing stronger. Romania and Greece are working together in bilateral, European, Euro-Atlantic and multilateral level and also within the framework of many regional organizations and initiatives. Back to the 90’s and later, Greece shared no effort to stand by Romania in the latter’s aspirations to complete its meta –communist transition and access to NATO and EU. And we never regret it! Both Bucharest and Athens share close positions in the European Union (EU) agenda for a strong Cohesion Policy and a further use of the European Structural Funds to this end. Greece warmly supports the completion of the EU integration and foremost the right of free movement and residence. We remain a steady supporter of the accession of Romania to the Schengen area. Our countries aiming at consolidating stability and development in our neighbourhood, are also working intensively in the framework of the South East Cooperation Process (SEECP), the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) and the Southeast European Law Enforcement Center (SELEC).
On the field of economy, the continuous inflow of Greek Direct Investments, despite the crisis, represents one of the core characteristics of the economic and trade relations between the two countries. At the end of 2015, the invested capital of Greek companies was estimated around 1,79 billion euros. The number of registered companies of Greek capital or participation reached the amount of 5,000. The total value of the Greek Direct Investments in Romania exceeds the amount of 4 billion euros. According to these data, Greece ranks 5th or 6th among the foreign investors in Romania. About 40,000 job positions have been created in Romania by Greek businesses. The bilateral Chamber of Commerce and Industry, in Bucharest, contributes significantly towards the strengthening of the economic ties between the two countries.
Another very important field of collaboration between Greece and Romania is tourism. According to the Association of Tourist Offices of Romania, Greece steadily remains a summer destination of more than 1 million Romanian tourists. The flights between Bucharest and Athens are frequent, since 3 airplane companies are currently connecting the two capitals. We hope that the strong cultural links between our countries will inspire also more Greek tourists to visit Romania. The Bucharest Office of the Greek National Tourism Organization is at the disposal of travelers for any useful information.
Finally, but not least, our cultural and educational cooperation is flourishing. Together with the Bucharest Branch of the Hellenic Foundation for Culture, the Chair of Greek Studies at the University of Bucharest and the Lectorate of Greek Language at the University of Iasi, our Embassy works hard for enhancing our economic, educational and cultural relations. Additionally, it is worth mentioning that at least 1.000 Greek students study in Romanian Universities.
In conclusion, allow me to stess my optimism that our long standing friendship and our fruitful multilevel cooperation will create mutually advantageous results and more opportunities for a prosperous future that our two countries deserve.