RIYADH: Greek Development and Investment Minister Adonis Korgadis told Arab News that the visit of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is a great honor for Greece and will strengthen the already “excellent” bilateral relations.
“We are very proud that His Royal Highness Mohammed bin Salman has decided to visit Greece as his first visit to an EU country since 2018,” he said ahead of the crown prince’s visit to Athens on Tuesday.
The purpose of the visit is to build on the already strong ties between the two countries, covering political, economic, trade, investment, defense and security, culture and tourism.
“This (visit) is very important for Greece and very important for our relationship because we respect and appreciate his leadership and vision for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and the Kingdom is moving forward in a new era for humanity in renewable energy. New technology.”
“I think His Highness is a strong leader, and his decision to be here, I must repeat, is very, very important for us. Good relations exist between Greece and Saudi Arabia. What we want to achieve is a high level of our relations in the field of security and politics, in general, in the economic aspect ( for example).
Speaking to Arab News via Zoom from Athens, Georgiades expressed hope that Greek companies and investors will play an important role in the development of NEOM, Saudi Arabia’s new smart city on the Red Sea coast. The projects were launched as part of the kingdom’s Vision 2030 social reform and economic diversification agenda.
It is not just a plan for economic development. It is a project about a new era of humanity on Earth, sustainable development, respect for the environment and the use of high technology to improve the quality of human life and well-being,” said Georgiades.
“Therefore, I am sure that a lot of Greek companies will be interested in participating in this huge NEOM project.”
Korgadis confirmed that the Crown Prince and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis will sign several new memorandums of understanding at a special ceremony at the Acropolis Museum in Athens, cementing the close diplomatic, security and trade ties the two countries enjoy.
Opened to the public in 2009, the world-renowned Archaeological Museum houses Bronze Age, Roman and Byzantine artefacts discovered at the site of the Acropolis, the country’s most valuable archeological and national monument.
The signing ceremony will be symbolic at this point.
Georgiades told Arab News, “This has never happened before. We have never had an MOU with any other country in the world regarding the Acropolis Museum. This is just a (message) from our prime minister to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. To show how we feel that you are very special to us.”
Georgians will sign a memorandum of understanding on investment and trade. We will unite in defense sector, high technology sector and maritime sector. And then, of course, the most important memorandum of understanding on cultural and intercultural exchange. (We) had a good party at the Acropolis.
In 2020, Greek exports to Saudi Arabia totaled $339.04 million, while its imports from the kingdom totaled $620.57 million, according to the United Nations Comtrade database of international trade.
To promote bilateral investments, the Saudi Council of Chambers signed a Memorandum of Understanding last September to establish the Saudi-Greek Business Council.
“I am very pleased to establish the Saudi-Greek Business Council,” said Georgiadis. “Two very important people from Greece and the Kingdom, the leaders of this organization, Mrs.
Along with Greek businessman and investor Aquilias Constantakopoulos, Olayan co-chairs the Saudi-Greek Business Council.
Georgiadis added: “The Olayan family is a true friend of our country. They have been investing in Greece since the 1970s. They stayed with Greece throughout our difficult times. We value this family, true friends and most important investors. I am proud and honored to have them work with me.
“I believe that the fact that such important people have decided to be the leaders of the organization shows the level of commitment and ambition that we have in pursuing all these projects and establishing true friendship and cooperation between our two great countries.”
More agreements and partnerships will be announced soon, Georgiades said, “from renewable energy to agriculture, food security and high-tech,” with “tremendous potential in tourism and shipping.”
Last December, the two countries signed a cooperation agreement in the field of maritime transport to improve commercial maritime navigation, increase the movement of merchant ships and promote trade.
In March, Saudi Arabia and Greece signed a memorandum of understanding that would pave the way for innovations in renewable energy, including green and blue hydrogen, and build a fiber-optic cable network linking data from Southeast Asia to Central Europe.
“The cable connecting Greece and Europe via Egypt to Saudi Arabia is a very important project,” Georgiadis said.
Both Greece and Saudi Arabia share a unique position for their region – Greece is an entry point into the EU and the Mediterranean and Saudi Arabia is ideally placed to connect the Arab world and the Middle East with the Far East and Asia.
“So it’s only natural that good places come together by using advanced technology for the benefit of humanity, the global economy and their own brand.”
A Saudi-Greek investment forum in the Kingdom on March 13 showcased investment opportunities in both countries and led to hundreds of bilateral business meetings.
Korgadis said he has high expectations for Saudi-Greek relations after the visit of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and expects more business deals.
“When we were last in Riyadh, there were more than 200 meetings between private companies from Greece and companies from Saudi Arabia. They were followed by many (others) in Athens.
“So, you know, their results come back within 24 hours.”
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