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13 February, 2002
The first Conference of the Greek-Turkish economic cooperation ministerial committee opened Tuesday in Athens, a continuation of the 9 economic and trade agreements signed between the two countries in recent years.
Heading the two delegations are Greece's deputy foreign minister Andreas Loverdos and Turkish deputy minister for external trade Kursad Tuzmen.
Opening the conference, Loverdos said this was the first such meeting in the history of economic relations between the two countries and an important milestone in the efforts initiated by foreign ministers George Papandreou and Ismail Cem in New York in 1999 for cooperation on "low-impact" issues such as economic and commercial matters.
Loverdos said this had proved to be very positive, as bilateral working groups had drawn up 9 studies which have since been signed, creating an "adequate institutional framework" that "facilitates economic and commercial cooperation between the two countries".
Loverdos said that the goal of the present Conference was to expand this institutional framework, resolve unsolved problems in bilateral economic relations, and encourage businessmen of both countries to invest.
In that framework, he added, the signing of an agreement on the avoidance of double taxation of revenues would be advanced, while appropriate measures would also be taken to facilitate such cooperation.
Loverdos said that the Greek side, in that framework, proposed a "maritime link-up" between the two countries, which could take place as soon as this coming summer, so as to achieve better service for tourism.
Tuzmen, in turn, said that the conference topics were very important as they would contribute to further development of the commercial and economic relations between the two countries and would give greater incentives to foreign and Greek investors to invest in Turkey.
Today, he said, there were only 58 Greek businessmen active in Turkey, and Ankara desired expanded activity.
He said the overall volume of trade between the two countries was only one billion dollars, while the target of the two sides was to increase it to 5 billion dollars in the next few years.
Tuzmen referred in particular to the "activation" of construction companies of both countries for the joint assumption of projects in the Balkan countries and SE Europe countries. He also pushed the idea of activation of Turkish construction companies in Greece in view of the preparations for the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens.
Turning to the energy sector, Tuzmen said the two countries could collaborate on the transport of natural gas from central and Eastern Europe to the western European countries, noting that such collaboration would be very significant.
The Turkish official further noted that all obstacles hindering the speedy development of economic and trade relations should be removed so that the relations could reach the rates desired by both countries.
The two ministers also discussed cooperation in view of the two countries' joint assumption of the 2008 European Soccer Championship. Loverdos noted that although this was not an issue falling under their authority, it was discussed with the aim of better organization and better financial success.
Senior officials from the foreign, transports, economy, agriculture and development ministries of the two countries are taking part in the conference.
Source: Athens News Agency