Greek PM meets Egyptian counterpart, signs bilateral cooperation agreements on tax and research
Cairo (ANA – A. Panagopoulos) – Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis arrived in Cairo early on Saturday morning for talks with the Egyptian government during the second day of an official visit to Egypt, the first by a Greek premier in over 12 years.
Karamanlis was met on his arrival in Cairo by Egyptian Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif and the two men began talks shortly after noon, covering bilateral affairs, the situation emerging in the Middle East following the death of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and developments in Iraq.
After the meeting, Karamanlis referred to a “new page in Greek-Arab and bilateral relations” following his visit to Egypt and officially extended an invitation to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Egyptian premier Ahmed Nazif to visit Greece.
“[The Greek government’s] meeting and contact with the Egyptian government acquires greater importance because of developments in this area, in which Egypt plays a major part as a significant regional factor. For our part, we particularly appreciate the moderate and stabilising influence that Egypt has on the region,” Karamanlis said.
Following the official talks, the two sides also signed an agreement for the avoidance of double taxation and an agreement for cooperation in research and technology.
The Greek premier said that, among other issues, the meeting had discussed practical ways of further boosting the traditionally good bilateral ties between Greece and Egypt so as to increase the benefits for both countries, which meant promoting cooperation in the areas of economic activity, trade, science, technology and culture. The two governments also decided to step up the organisation of business meetings and contacts between the ministries involved in trade affairs.
Karamanlis stressed the importance of cultural dialogue and promoting closeness between cultures in the current era and said it was necessary to upgrade mechanisms for political dialogue between the two countries in order to contribute to initiatives promoting regional dialogue and cooperation.
With regard to EuroMediterranean cooperation, in particular, he said this had not yet proved its reliability or met the goals for which it was established and he called for greater investment in the process. He said there should be a balance between the eastern and western Mediterranean and that Greece could act as a gateway for Egypt into the European Union, while Egypt might become a gateway for Greece into the surrounding region, where it played an important and stabilising role.
Both the Greek and Egyptian premiers noted that the balance of trade between Greece and Egypt was relatively small and stressed that it could be increased. Nazif, in particular, said that business people could help in this direction through cooperation and investment in the tourism, energy, transport and agricultural markets.
After his talks with Egyptian officials, Karamanlis and his wife Natasha visited the Acropolis in Cairo, while Mrs. Karamanlis had earlier attended the presentation of a Greek book translated into Arabic at the Cairo Opera and the city’s Al Halil bazaar.
On his arrival in Cairo, the Greek premier had also visited the Anwar Sadat mausoleum and laid a wreath at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier, as well as touring the Cairo Museum.
On the last day of his visit on Sunday, Karamanlis has taken a tour the Pyramids before meeting Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak and attending a working dinner given by Mubarak in the Greek premier’s honour.