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12 October, 2000
Visiting Greek President Kostis Stephanopoulos and his Estonian counterpart Lennart Meri expressed the political will for the further widening of bilateral relations between the two countries in talks here on Wednesday.
President Stephanopoulos, accompanied by Deputy Foreign Minister Angeliki Laiou and Deputy National Economy Minister Yiannis Zafeiropoulos, arrived in Estonia on Wednesday, second leg of his tour of Baltic States, and in his talks with Meri he reiterated Greece's assistance for Estonia's accession to Euroatlantic structures.
Reports said European Union enlargement (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania are seeking EU accession), the widening of trade and economic relations between Athens and Tallinn, as well as of cultural exchanges between the two countries, constituted the focal point of talks between the two presidents.
Meri announced that the establishment of a scholarship of 10,000 Estonian crowns was decided under the name of "Pytheas Massaliotis", to be given to a translator or researcher from Estonia who will have contributed with his writings to understanding between the Greek and Estonian people.
President Stephanopoulos said Greece intends to give a corresponding scholarship, which will contribute to the further development of relations between the two countries in all sectors.
Meri said in a statement he and President Stephanopoulos continued the discussion they had started in Athens, during his official visit to Greece over a year ago, concerning the future of the EU and the role played by small countries in it, as well as Estonia's plans to become a NATO member.
On his part, President Stephanopoulos said Greece is absolutely positive towards Estonia's claim, as well as towards those of Latvia and Lithuania, to join the EU, adding that future developments in the EU were analyzed with the prospects of its enlargement to east and north.
In addition, addressing an official dinner given in his honor by Meri later, President Stephanopoulos reiterated Greek support for Tallinn's accession to Euroatlantic structures.
President Stephanopoulos will inaugurate an economic forum between Greek and Estonian businessmen on Thursday morning and will meet with the Estonian prime minister, the mayor of Tallinn and the president of the Estonian Parliament, while he will also be visiting the Technological University in the Estonian capital.
Greece, Estonia see potential in developing economic relations:
Greek-Estonian relations are good and steadily developing, with Greece lending its support to Estonian efforts to become a member of the European Union and NATO.
Bilateral economic relations have great potential due to the fact that Estonia has been invited to the first wave of EU accession talks.
Greek businesses have shown an increasing interest towards the Baltic state and in particular in the fields of maritime transport, port construction, shipbuilding, high technology, science, forestry, agriculture, food, textiles and furniture.
Estonia is particularly interested in cooperation in the tourism sector.
The two countries have signed four agreements covering the promotion and reciprocal protection of investments, abolishment of visa requirements, maritime transport and international road transport.
Bilateral trade is steadily rising. Estonian exports to Greece has increased from 2.5 million kroons to 33.5 million in the period 1995-1999, while imports have grown from 13 million to 37.1 million kroons.
Estonian exports to Greece totalled 30.3 million kroons in the first half of 2000, while imports totalled 20.9 million.
Greece ranked as the 51st biggest trade partner and the 60th biggest investor of Estonia.
Source: Athens News Agency