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28 February, 2000
A two-day meeting between Turkish and Greek businessmen ended here on Saturday with a common desire expressed to increase trade between the two neighboring countries to five billion dollars over the next five years.
Greek entrepreneurs announced on the sidelines of the meeting their decision to establish a Greek-Turkish Chamber of Commerce based in Athens, aiming to attract European and primarily US capital for investments in the greater Balkan and Black Sea regions.
"The Greek-Turkish Chamber of Commerce will be established in about six months from now and will be governed by a nine-member council comprising, seven Greeks and two Turkish business people," Panayiotis Koutsikos, the president of the Greek-Turkish Business Council told reporters.
Turkish entrepreneurs of the Committee of External Economic Relations (DEIK), present at the Istanbul meeting, will not participate in the Greek-Turkish Chamber as they reiterated their proposal for a corresponding committee in Greece, Turkish business circles underlined later.
A prominent Turkish business leader said on Saturday that his country's candidacy for EU membership would contribute to an improvement in Greek-Turkish relations and create new opportunities for joint economic programs in the Black Sea region, the Mediterranean and the Balkans.
"Turkey's relations with the EU are directly related to all its policies in the region. Its candidacy for EU membership will contribute to an improvement in Greek-Turkish relations. EU funds could be distributed to support joint Greek-Turkish investments. There are significant opportunities for cooperation in the construction sector in the Balkans, the Mediterranean and areas of the Black Sea region," said Tuncai Ozilhan, vice-president of the Association of Turkish Industrialists and Entrepreneurs (TUSIAD) during Saturday's session.
Antonis Foscolos, of the Hellenic Bank Association, said the two countries' banking sectors were well placed to cooperate in their internal and regional markets, particularly in tourism, telecommunications and transport.
Panagiotis Koutsikos said he was confident Turkey would follow a steady path towards Europe and that its progress would have beneficial results for Greece too.
"The cooperation between Greek and Turkish businessmen must be maintained and entrepreneurs must act independently of politicians," he stressed.
Sariq Tara, Turkish co-chairman of the Council, said that apart from beneficial economic results, the conference would also boost cultural, social and sports exchanges. He forecast that trade between the two countries could increase from $1 billion to $5 billion in five years.
Source: Athens News Agency