Q1) What is the significance of your visit to the State of Qatar in terms of developing bilateral relations between the two friendly countries? What are the most important issues and topics that you will discuss during this visit?
This is my first official visit to Qatar; it certainly was long overdue. Unfortunately, the Covid-19 pandemic and the crises that followed limited our opportunities to travel abroad.
There is a growing mutual willingness to enhance our bilateral cooperation and deepen the relations between our two countries. There are many areas of common interest and issues of regional and international concern where there is room for greater collaboration and these areas will be part of the agenda in our talks (consultations) with His Highness Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani and his team.
Greece is a natural entrypoint for trade with the European Union and Europe more broadly. It is quickly becoming an energy hub and offers various high-quality investment opportunities.
Taking into account the challenges of our times, Greece is a reliable pillar of stability in the eastern Mediterranean, while energetically engaging with the Arab world and being an active member of the Euro-atlantic security and economic architecture.
In view of all this, I believe this is a significant visit.
Q2) How do you view the development of our bilateral relations? What is your vision for strengthening these relations towards greater cooperation in various fields?
The potential for improvement is there, we need to tap into it.
Greece and Qatar share bonds of friendship which stem from centuries-old relations and cooperation between the Greek and Arab civilizations.
Our vision is to see this long-standing friendship flourish once more to the benefit of both Greece and Qatar, especially in priority areas.
Q3) What are the most important areas of cooperation that you consider a priority when it comes to strengthening cooperation between Greece and the State of Qatar?
Areas such as Trade, Transport, Energy, Culture, Education, Investment, Tourism, Sports, as well as Research and Innovation, constitute the core of our set priorities. Qatar is widely known to possess significant potential and expertise in these fields.
Q4) What are the most important and promising sectors in Greece in terms of investment opportunities, which also present a chance to strengthen the partnership between the Greek and the Qatari private sector?
The Greek economy is recovering rapidly and robustly from the crisis of the previous decade, in spite of the strong headwinds caused by pandemic-induced slowdowns, the ongoing energy crisis and the subsequent inflationary environment.
Economic activity expanded by more than 8% in 2021, in the first quarter of this year we saw our GDP growing by 7% and our summer tourism season is going exceptionally well, even by pre-Covid standards. Although the war in Ukraine inevitably affects the entire EU economy, the European Commission steadily projects that the Greek economy will outperform most of its EU peers in terms of growth both this year and in 2023.
Greece’s economic potential and performance are attracting increased investment, which has always been a key objective for my government. Foreign direct investment reached a 20-year high in 2021, while gross fixed capital formation increased by 12.7% in the first three months of this year. This is also driven, in part, by the fact that Greece also has a highly-educated and skilled workforce.
The long list of investors that have shown confidence in Greece includes some of the world’s biggest and most renowned companies, such as Microsoft, Pfizer, Amazon Web Services and Cisco, among others.
Our updated legal framework relating to FDI provides a friendly, safe and reliable environment for investment, reducing red tape. Among others, we are focusing on the development of offshore wind parks, we are constructing an FSRU unit for LNG cargoes off the port city of Alexandroupoli, with plans to build another one nearby; at the same time we are promoting big infrastructure projects throughout the country -including data storage and transmission sites- and the digital economy, given that Greece now fields a very promising and rapidly growing start-up ecosystem.
So, as you understand, Greece offers many investment opportunities in various fields, from Energy -including renewables- and Tourism, to Infrastructure and Real Estate.
We invite our Qatari friends to explore and evaluate the existing promising investment opportunities.
Q5) Greece exited the EU’s enhanced surveillance framework a couple of days ago, what does that mean for the Greek economy? What are the most important steps the Greek government will take to restore confidence in its economy?
The exit from the enhanced surveillance framework certainly is a watershed moment for Greece, as it signifies the end of a difficult 12-year period that was marked by a prolonged recession, strife and the rise of populist forces.
Greece will now have the opportunity to operate more freely, without however allowing the damaging exorbitant or unnecessary fiscal outlays that were commonplace in the past. That means being active and smart, but also prudent, as my government has been from the start. To that effect, the government has an investment-friendly and low-tax strategy that aims to boost employment, production and per capita income, while fostering growth in underdeveloped, green and high-tech sectors.
As far as confidence goes, I think that the investment inflows, combined with the significant fall in the unemployment rate over the past three years, show that the private sector already has confidence in this government and its policies, investing capital and creating new jobs.
If anything, the end of the enhanced surveillance period marks the transition that Greece has been able to accomplish through the tremendous sacrifices of its people and the strength of its institutions. Greece is now a different country, which is steadily regaining and further improving its position on the world stage.
Q6) How do you see the role of Qatari diplomacy in resolving some regional issues, as well as its endeavors in promoting dialogue, security and peace in both the region and the world?
I would like to warmly congratulate His Highness the Amir for his pivotal role in bringing about a successful outcome to Qatar’s challenging mediation on Chad. The recent signing of the Doha Agreement constitutes a decisive step towards reconciliation and the promotion of peace in Chad.
I’m confident that the Doha Agreement will serve as solid ground for the National Dialogue process, which has started in N’Djamena, to bear fruit.
In this context, I would also like to congratulate Qatar on its crucial role in coordinating the safe transfer of people from Afghanistan this time last year. It is thanks to Doha’s intensive efforts that the smooth operation of flights, along with a safe haven in Qatar, was secured.
The same undoubtedly goes for a number of other conflicts and disputes to which Qatar has readily lent its services as an honest broker over the past years.
Q7) Regarding the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, tell us what you think of the preparations for the upcoming tournament, given that this is the first time a country in the Middle East hosts this competition?
Greece congratulates Qatar on the meticulous organization of the impending tournament, which the entire world is eagerly anticipating, as this is the first time in the history of FIFA that the World Cup is hosted by an Arab country.
The success of the tournament, of which I am convinced, will prove the existing vigor, vision and determination of Qatar, as well as the vibrant dynamism of its people as a whole.
Greece, unfortunately, did not qualify, however, our Embassy is getting ready to host a couple of cultural events in view of the games. We wholeheartedly wish every success to Qatar for this noble and daring endeavor.