Over the last few years, through different governments in Greece, Israel – Greece relations, have enjoyed, major progress, from cordial to warm intimate cooperation in different spheres. As the two countries are located on the Mediterranean and are so close, they share a common regional interest in stability, prosperity and peace. “Over almost two decades now we are witnessing an upgrade in strategic-security cooperation, intimate diplomatic exchanges through periodical summits, meetings of heads of governments, Ministerial, Government to Government meetings and senior working levels” Mr. Yossi Amrani, Israel’s Ambassador to Greece said.
“I do believe that our two countries enjoy close cooperation and mutual respect and the people-to-people friendship is the engine for more cooperation.”
Greece and Israel have forged, in the past decade, a durable relationship of a strategic nature, based on the strong ties of friendship and mutual respect between their peoples, their common vision for a stable and secure wider neighborhood, as well as their common interests and converging views on the many challenges the region is faced with. The successful visits of Prime Minister, Mr Kyriakos Mitsotakis, on December 2021, as well as that of President Herzog to Athens, last February, were once again, proof of the long-standing ties. “Current economic relations are following the deepening of political Greek-Israeli relations and are based on the major potential for mutually beneficial cooperation in a wide range of sectors, such as trade, investments, technology/innovation/start-ups, tourism, energy /environment, cyber security, defense and agricultural development” explained Mr. Ioannis Smyrlis, Secretary-General of International Economic Affairs for the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In terms of bilateral trade, it is to be noted that during the last years, the volume of our commercial exchanges increased significantly. The value of the overall trade volume reached the amount of €942 million. “During 2021 Greek exports to Israel marked a historic record of almost €550 million, while the imports from Israel reached a value of €393 million, both having increased by 48% compared to 2020” he added. “Despite the perfect storm we faced due to the pandemic COVID-19, our bilateral trade relations have shown remarkable resilience and rapid growth. We are still planning, though, to join efforts to exploit the untapped potential in order to further expand our trade exchanges.”
“Our two countries are anchors of democracy and stability in a challenging world and region. It’s therefore natural and logical that we cooperate in aspects beyond national security. Israel sees in Greece a partner, regionally and beyond, as Greece is an EU and NATO member country” said the Ambassador. “Through our respective diplomatic and international affairs networks we can advance our mutual interests.”
“I am actively looking forward to visiting Israel within the next months in order to hold a series of meetings with government officials, the Israeli investment and business community, and the Chambers of Commerce aiming at the promotion and the enhancement of our bilateral relations.”
The Ambassador sees Greece as a gateway for Israel to European markets and Israel as a gateway for Greece in technology and innovation and notes a growing interest of Israeli businesses in real estate and tourism in Greece, bearing in mind the impressive numbers of Israeli tourists to Greece, throughout the years, both on the mainland and the islands as well. “It’s my view that our economic cooperation should focus on energy, energy connectivity and renewable energy (solar and wind), both countries can benefit from each other’s experience. In agriculture, agrotech and research there can be cooperation, having in mind the richness and quality of Greek products. In R&D, we have seen some progress in high tech cooperation, there’s room for much more” he highlighted.
Mr. Nikos Kontaroudis, the Vice Chairman of the Hellenic Capital Market Commission says that Greece looks forward to foreign direct investment and more specifically from Israel as the country is now back into international markets following years of recession due to the economic crisis. “The HCMC is a member of the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) and operates within its framework and under its auspices so any company we give license to, has the right to do business all over the EU. Regulations and laws are the same as any other country in the European Union. We protect the investors as the regulated markets are significant to the development of our economy” he said. In addition, the HCMC have set up the Innovation Hub as an effort to provide guidance specifically to Fintech companies on their proposals to enter the Greek market. “When Fintech companies have a service or product they would like to test and penetrate the Greek market, then the Innovation Hub will examine these inquiries, check their relevance and give them guidance. With a dedicated team and forum of external advisors mostly from the academic sector we examine and give individual feedback to the Fintech companies” Kontaroudis explained.
“Greece looks forward to foreign direct investment and more specifically from Israel as the country is now back into international markets following years of recession due to the economic crisis.”
“Greece constitutes a pillar of peace, safety, security and democracy for the entire region. Its unique geostrategic position offers a multitude of business opportunities making our country a strategic partner in several emerging markets. On the other hand, Israel has long been an important political and economic partner for Greece. In this spirit, I am actively looking forward to visiting Israel within the next months in order to hold a series of meetings with government officials, the Israeli investment and business community and the Chambers of Commerce aiming at the promotion and the enhancement of our bilateral relations. There is ample space to what our two countries can achieve together” Smyrlis highlighted.
“We are happy with the existing cooperation in tourism, investments in hotels, real estate and energy and are ready to strengthen cooperation in infrastructure, developing trade routes, agriculture and R&D. Greece’s economy heavily relies on tourism. Government policies together with EU support and funds may position Greece as an attractive destination for investments” added Ambassador Amrani, and continues “I do believe that our two countries enjoy close cooperation and mutual respect. The people-to-people friendship is the engine for more cooperation. Greece should not be for itself or for Israelis only a tourism first-class destination or real estate opportunity but also a partner in joint ventures connecting our countries, benefiting each other and most importantly turning the mutual respect into a yielding partnership.”