Dear Chairman of the Ukrainian delegation Mr. Shpyrko!
Dear Chairman of the Hellenic delegation Mr. Ikonomou!
Dear participants and guests!
First of all, I would like to welcome all the participants with the beginning of Greek-Ukrainian Business Forum and to wish a fruitful and productive work. Unfortunately, given the urgent need to carry out my duties on foreign policy objectives, I had to stay at this time in Athens. However, I firmly believe that this event that takes part in such a difficult time for both our countries indicates about mutual aspirations and possibilities for development of mutually beneficial cooperation. The features of contemporary global and national development requires the formation of our relations for the strategic perspective exactly based on the economic foundation. Today’s unfavorable economic situation in the world should not hinder the development of our bilateral cooperation. Therefore, we have to take optimal advantages from the existing potential of our cooperation and to intensify it in areas where mutual interests coincide.
In this context the broadening and strengthening relationships at the regional level takes its particular importance. The regional cooperation is an important part of Greek-Ukrainian economic relations. Region of Northern Greece and its capital, Thessaloniki, are well known for its industrial, agricultural, tourism potential. The infrastructure of such cities of Northern Greece, as, indeed, Thessaloniki, Kavala, Alexandropoulos enable us to expand our transport communications, including ferry lines. I am sure that there will be increased demand in Ukraine for such products of the region as olives and olive oil, wine, fresh fruit, fur products. Cooperation at the regional level should also play a special role in such promising areas as processing and storage of agricultural products, introduction of new agricultural technologies, new products, such as raw materials for biofuels.
In this context, I expect that today's meeting with Odessa business elites in the region of Northern Greece – will expand existing and offer new opportunities for Ukrainian business. However, those of Greek companies who are already familiar with Ukraine may renew their knowledge of Ukrainian markets and open up new prospects in the light of the historical events of the last months - signing of the Association Agreement with the EU, and in particular, its economic part. The Ukrainian government is implementing a wide range of political and economic reforms to transform Ukraine into one of the most attractive and promising emerging markets in the European region. I hope that the outcome of this forum Greek businessmen find their business interest in cooperation with our country.
The trade relations between our two countries last almost 2500 years since the time when the Greek colonies on the Black Sea exported from the territory of present-day Ukraine wheat and other agricultural products and imported using modern terminology, traditional Greek products, such as olive oil. What is more interesting that these products are of great demand even now. However, I am sure that the development of our economic relations must meet the requirements of the modern world era of globalization.
For example, we have great potential for cooperation in agriculture, food industry, in such areas as shipbuilding, engineering, construction, transportation and infrastructure, IT, energy and tourism.
At the same time, I would like to point out that throughout the period since establishment in July 1993 of diplomatic relations between Ukraine and the Hellenic Republic, our cooperation is characterized by positive dynamics and has significant opportunities for implementation of new joint projects in various fields.
This is confirmed by the positive trend of our bilateral trade turnover. Thus, during the first six months of 2014, despite the global economic crisis, the trade in goods and services between Ukraine and Greece has managed to keep their positions and it is actually stayed in numbers of corresponding period of the last year - 244.1 million USD (January - June 2014) against 251.2 million USD (January - June 2013). With a positive balance for Ukraine by 2700 USD, this is an evidence of balanced and complementarity of our bilateral trade.
The main groups of Ukrainian merchandise exports to Greece in the first half of 2014 were: agricultural products, crude petroleum, metal. From Greece to Ukraine were imported petroleum products, pharmaceuticals, vehicles, food products.
Despite the difficult political, social and economic situation in Ukraine, many Ukrainian citizens could make a traditional summer holiday in Northern Greece, which is increasingly becoming more and more popular among Ukrainian tourist.
I am convinced that the deepening of bilateral relations between our two countries, regions and businesses will be the step that will create additional incentives and opportunities for growth in our economies during the global financial crisis, which, unfortunately, is still far away from been over.
I am confident that this event will provide you with a new stimulus to develop business relations between the region of Northern Greece and the Odessa region and will facilitate the conclusion of perspective contracts and deepen trade and economic cooperation between the countries.
I would like to wish sincerely again to our participants all success in implementing their business ideas and plans.
I would also like to thank sincerely to the organizers of this forum – the Greek - Ukrainian Chamber of Commerce of Thessaloniki and personally Mr. Ikonomou, the Odessa Regional Chamber of Commerce and personally to Mr. Shpyrko, the staff of the Embassy of Ukraine and the Consulate General of Ukraine in Thessaloniki and to all participants of this event.
Let me also assure you that the Embassy of Ukraine and the Consulate General of Ukraine in Thessaloniki will continue to provide maximum support to conduct such meetings and business forums.
Ambassador of Ukraine to the Hellenic Republic