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October 5, 2022

Sofia Grammata, Ambassador of the Hellenic Republic to Romania: I am determined to promote further our bilateral cooperation

This year marks the bicentennial since the eruption of the Greek Revolution of 1821, the war that Greeks fought to liberate themselves after 400 years of Ottoman occupation.

The struggle for freedom and independence commenced in Chisinau, on February 21st, 1821, from the residence of the merchant Michail Katsikas, the meeting place of the members of “Filiki Eteria”, a secret organisation that paved the way for the Revolution. The Revolution was proclaimed on February 24, in Iasi; it broke out in the Peloponnese, on March 17, and spread to the whole territory of what is nowadays the modern Greek state; it claimed hundreds of thousands of victims; it incited the European movement of philhellenism; finally, it succeeded in the creation and recognition of an independent Greek state, on February 3rd, 1830, through the signature of the London Protocol.

The preparations for this fierce, eight-year-long war, were largely undertaken by the communities of the Diaspora Greeks around Europe, inspired by the ideals of Enlightenment and Romanticism. This is the main reason that the first sparks of the Greek Revolution ignited in the territory of the Romanian Principalities: the Greek presence here, at first through commercial exchanges that date back to the 2nd millenium B.C., marked by the foundation of the ancient Greek colony of Histria, on the shores of the Black Sea, at the 7th century B.C., was further strengthened during the 17th and 18th centuries A.D. and the beginning of the 19th, through the presence of Greek merchants, scientists and scholars, coupled with the period of the Phanariot administration.

The outbreak of the war in the Peloponnese is celebrated every year on this day, March 25, the day of the Annunciation, the National Day of Greece.

The last battle of the War was fought victoriously by the Greeks in September 1829. The Struggle for Freedom had gone through sacrifices of unparalleled heroism, incredible victories, bloody defeats; it was reinforced by the battle of Navarino, in 1827, of the French, British and Russian naval forces against the Ottoman navy; it has left an indelible mark on Greek History and our collective memory of our National Heroes.

Their efforts were vindicated, first and foremost, by the creation of the independent Greek state and its recognition by the same foreign powers that, a few years before, on 20 October 1822, during the Congress of Verona, had refused to hear the petition of the Greek delegation and had issued a declaration against the Greek Revolution. Their sacrifices are vindicated on a daily basis, by the love us Greeks have of our homeland, a love tried and proven on numerous battlefronts ever since; but also by the need of Greeks for Democratic Values, that they wished to institute as early as the first years of war, with the Constitutions of 1822, 1823 and 1827, all particularly democratic and progressive for their time of writing.

Soon after its independence, as early as 1834, Greece established Consular Missions in the Danube Principalities. Gradually, consular missions in twenty-eight different cities of today’s Romania were established until 1880, a clear indication of the economic and political power of Greek merchants. Apostolos Arsakis became Minister for Foreign Affairs in Romania and the Zappa family was a great donor to the Romanian Academy and for the construction of the Athenaeum.

Bilateral diplomatic relations started in February 1880. Our countries and our bilateral relations have since followed an elaborate path, that has led to today’s common wealth, a close cooperation on all levels and in all fields, within the framework of NATO, the EU and regional organizations and initiatives.

The economic and commercial relations between Greece and Romania present a constantly increasing dynamism. Greeks rank high as investors in Romania and our country is at the top of tourist destinations of Romanian citizens. The economic cooperation between Greece and Romania deepens and the framework for more synergies, both in traditional and new fields of business activity, is being consolidated.

According to the latest ONRC data, 441 new companies of Greek interest were established in Romania during 2020 and the share of the total Greek invested capital as a percentage of the aggregated foreign invested capital in Romania reached up to 3,85%. By the end of August 2020, Greece ranked 8th among the countries that invest in Romania, with 7.773 companies at the Commercial Registry of Romania, with 15.000 employees and a total invested capital of over 1,75 bn euros.

Greek investments in Romania cover a wide spectrum of sectors: banking sector (Alpha Bank, Vista Bank), food and beverages  (Chipita, Olympos Dairy, Ifantis, KB Karamolegos, Best Foods, Golden Foods Coca-Cola HBC, Alexandrion Group, Valvis Holding etc.), wholesale, retail and distribution networks  (Genco Trade, Elgeka Ferfelis, Sarantis, Jumbo etc.), production of metallic products (ICME-ECAB, Alumil, Etem, Siderom, Aversa etc.), building materials (Black Sea Suppliers, Isomat,  Atlas Corporation, etc.), health services and equipment (Medsana, Sofmedica, Euromedics, Imedica, Cytogenomic etc.),  agriculture and livestock (FATROM, Minco etc.), consulting and legal services (ICAP, TPG Group, law firms Rokas, E. Navridis, Drakopoulos etc.), constructions, architecture and real estate development (Aktor, Bobotis, Alesonor, Evergreen, HBC Property Development etc).

As far as tourism is concerned, Greece is at the top destinations of Romanian citizens. According to official data, 1.378.100 Romanian tourists visited our country in 2019. Romanian tourists adore the beauty and diversity of the Greece’s landscape, our climate and coasts, our people’s hospitality, our cuisine, and relish experiencing different kinds of tourism. Greece is a destination for all seasons and all preferences and its important asset, as an investment and tourism destination, is its cultural property: the brand name GREECE-HELLAS.

My country enjoys political stability and security and, as years go by, consolidates its image as an economic success story, a trustworthy business partner, with large investments in South East Europe.

According to the most recent data of the Bank of Greece, the (net) inflows of Foreign Direct Investment in Greece for 2019 presented an increase of 33,3% compared to 2018. 2019 was the fourth consecutive year of increase of net foreign direct investment in our country, following an annual increase of 9.0% from 2017 to 2018, 23.5% from 2016 to 2017 and 118.5% from 2015 to 2016.

There are plenty of reasons why Greece is the ideal destination for investments: Its strategic location, with more than 3,000 islands in the Ionian and Aegean Sea, is ideal for investments in transport infrastructure, as well as in the field of tourism, including medical, conference and religious tourism. Greece has a developed infrastructure that allows for the uninterrupted implementation of investment activities (ports, road, air and railway transport, energy, telecommunications) and it is to be noted that Greece possesses the world’s largest commercial vessel fleet.

The Egnatia Highway connects the port of Igoumenitsa (on the Ionian Sea) with Alexandroupolis, near our land borders with Turkey. The PATHE highway system (connecting the southwestern port of Patras with Athens and Thessaloniki and continuing up to our borders with North Macedonia) and the Ionian Highway (which connects Patras with Igoumenitsa) are also of great significance.

Furthermore, the Mediterranean climate and the ample availability of renewable energy potential (wind, hydro, biomass, geothermal, solar & solar thermal) of my country attract significant investments in this domain. Volkswagen’s pilot project for a climate-neutral mobility on the Greek island of Astypalaia is a recent example.

Regarding the energy sector, large-scale infrastructure projects involving Greece (TAP-IGB-EastMed Gas Pipelines, Alexandroupolis INGS, EuroAsia Interconnector, hydrocarbons exploration and development) provide significant investment opportunities.

The domains towards which investors are oriented, apart from tourism and energy, are food industry and agriculture, ICT, logistics, life sciences, global business services and audiovisual productions.  Food and agriculture are traditionally among our major export sectors, with a strong presence in the European and a growing presence in the US food markets. Products like olive oil, honey, fruits, processed meats, bakery and dairy products, of exquisite taste and high nutritional value, are conquering the international gastronomic scene.

As regards human resources, with internationally recognized university faculties and polytechnic schools, a strong intellectual capital (scientists, researchers and academics), a remarkable number of highly skilled workers, and a large number of citizens that speak foreign languages fluently (ranking high among EU countries in this area), Greece is able to efficiently support any investment effort.

From the recent announcements concerning important upcoming investments in Greece, we stress the ones referring to Microsoft’s GR for GRowth huge investment project on the creation of data centers in Athens that will establish a Microsoft Cloud region in the country, and the Ellinikon complex of luxury residences, hotels, a casino and a yachting marina, within 10kms from the touristic center of Athens. They reflect big investors’ confidence in Greek economy and Greek people. I should also point out that, recently, Greece attracted bumper demand in its first sale of 30-year bonds since 2008, completing the country’s full return to debt markets. The sale was the most oversubscribed deal in Europe for over a month.

Romania is a country of great potential and brilliant prospects; the closest possible cooperation between Greece and Romania, both bilateral and multilateral, in all fields, could only hold mutual benefit for our countries and peoples. I consider myself privileged to be the Ambassador of the Hellenic Republic to Romania and I am determined to promote further our bilateral cooperation, focusing also on our economic and cultural ties.

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