Στο Ελσίνκι βρίσκεται ο ΥΦΥΠΕΞ κ. Μιλτιάδης Βαρβιτσιώτης, συνοδεύοντας τον Πρόεδρο της Δημοκρατίας κ. Κάρολο Παπούλια στην τετραήμερη επίσημη επίσκεψη που πραγματοποιεί στη Φινλανδία.
Σήμερα το πρωί ο Πρόεδρος της Δημοκρατίας παρέστη σε εκδήλωση του ελληνοφινλανδικού επιχειρηματικού φόρουμ, όπου μίλησε ο υφυπουργός των Εξωτερικών, Μιλτιάδης Βαρβιτσιώτης, επισημαίνοντας την πολιτική βούληση των Αθηνών να προωθηθεί η διμερής οικονομική και εμπορική συνεργασία με το Ελσίνκι.

Στο φόρουμ, στο οποίο μετέχουν αντιπρόσωποι 20 ελληνικών επιχειρήσεων, ο κ. Βαρβιτσιώτης σημείωσε τις μεγάλες δυσκολίες της σημερινής οικονομικής συγκυρίας, επισήμανε, όμως, ότι παρά ταύτα οι δύο χώρες μπορούν να εμβαθύνουν στη συνεργασία τους, έχοντας υπόψη ότι ευκαιρίες υπάρχουν πάντα.

Ο υφυπουργός ανέφερε, επίσης, ότι η Ελλάδα έχει παραδοσιακά κεντρικό ρόλο στην οικονομική πρόοδο της νοτιοανατολικής Ευρώπης και ως εκ τούτου, μπορεί να διευκολύνει τις φινλανδικές επιχειρήσεις, που θέλουν να εγκατασταθούν στη ραγδαία αναπτυσσόμενη αγορά της περιοχής, ενώ το ίδιο μπορεί να γίνει και για την περιοχή της Μαύρης Θάλασσας, όπου η Ελλάδα έχει αναπτύξει ισχυρές οικονομικές σχέσεις με τις χώρες και αυτής της περιοχής, μιας περιοχής «αυξανόμενης γεωστρατηγικής σημασίας για προφανείς λόγους».

Ο Μιλτιάδης Βαρβιτσιώτης αναφέρθηκε στην οικονομική κρίση, επισημαίνοντας παράλληλα ότι η Ελλάδα, ως μέλος της ευρωζώνης, απολαμβάνει πολιτικής και οικονομικής σταθερότητας, έχει δε το μεγαλύτερο κατά κεφαλήν εισόδημα στην περιοχή.

Είπε, ακόμη, ότι το 2008 η χώρα είχε ικανοποιητικό ρυθμό εξαγωγών, υπογράμμισε το γεγονός ότι ο εμπορικός στόλος με ελληνική σημαία είναι τρίτος στον κόσμο και έκανε εκτενή αναφορά στα μέτρα της κυβέρνησης για την προστασία της ελληνικής οικονομίας από την κρίση.

Τέλος, ο κ. Βαρβιτσιώτης αναφέρθηκε στην οικονομική διείσδυση της Ελλάδας στην ευρύτερη περιοχή της νοτιοανατολικής Ευρώπης, καθώς επίσης στον ελληνικό τουρισμό και στον τομέα των ανανεώσιμων πηγών ενέργειας, υπογραμμίζοντας ότι οι ιδανικές κλιματολογικές συνθήκες της Ελλάδας προσφέρουν το κατάλληλο περιβάλλον για την προσέλκυση νέων επενδύσεων στην καθαρή ενέργεια.

ΟΜΙΛΙΑ ΥΦΥΠΕΞ:
«Προοπτικές ελληνο-φινλανδικών εμπορικών και οικονομικών σχέσεων στην παρούσα παγκόσμια οικονομική συγκυρία»

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It gives me great pleasure and honour to be present here and address the Finnish-Hellenic business forum, organised in the framework of the state visit of the President of the Hellenic Republic H.E., Mr. Karolos Papoulias. A number of trade missions in Finland and (last year’s announcement of Greece as the guest of honour country at the annual tourism exhibition MATKA 2010), witness the importance that the Greek Government gives at encouraging business and promoting economic cooperation between the two countries.
A delegation of 20 Greek businessmen is participating in this Finnish-Hellenic Forum and I am confident that events like this one do advance the commercial and economic relations between the two countries, a development welcomed during these turbulent times of the global financial crisis.
According to the latest predictions, recovery is expected to start in 2010 if not later. A few months ago, the European Commission forecast was zero growth rate in the Eurozone for 2009. Today it expects that the growth rate will be negative, dropping as low as -2%.
The conditions under which we are called upon to plan for the future collaboration between our two countries are increasingly hard. However, I will make the case today that Finland and Greece should further deepen their cooperation overcoming the current complicated difficulties, having also in mind the past crisis eventual opportunities.
Adverse as the international environment might seem, it is the proper time for businessmen to look into the future and try to foresee opportunities that will undoubtedly arise. In this context, Finland and Greece should further deepen their cooperation and overcome the current complicated difficulties.

Greece, having a pivotal role in the economic progress of Southeastern Europe, cam play a role of facilitator for those Finnish companies that wish to establish themselves in the rapidly growing market of South-eastern Europe. Moreover, Greece has developed strong economic relations with the countries of the Black Sea region, an area of ever growing geostrategic importance, due to the abundance of raw materials, including oil and natural gas. Therefore, it offers real advantages to Finnish companies wishing to explore the opportunities in the wider areas described above, a dynamic market of half a billion consumers.

The volume of bilateral trade along with the trade deficit for Greece is expanding, reaching in 2008 694 million €, although it is deficient for Greece. The main Greek exports are ferronickel, electrical machinery, grapes, peaches, cigarettes, aluminum, vegetables and pharmaceutical products. Our food sector is a dynamic one and can claim a bigger share in our exports.
Finnish exports consist mainly of telecommunications equipment, magnetic cards, leather skin, timber and machinery. The coordinated efforts of Greek companies and business associations have created margins for more successful Greek exports and we hope that our trade volume will further increase & diversify.

Ladies and gentlemen,
A crisis that is affecting trade and investment, consumption, jobs and living standards. It may not be the first financial crisis of the global economy, but it certainly looks like the most severe and widespread crisis that the world has experienced since the great depression.
At this point let me give you an overview of Greece’s economy during nowadays global financial crisis:
• Greece enjoys stable political, economic and financial environment as a member of Eurozone, and the highest per capita income in the region. Greece also provides advanced infrastructure and a highly sophisticated workforce.
• During 2008 Greek exports given the circumstances were satisfactory. According to the data provided by the National Statistical Service of Greece, the value of exports increased in 2008 by 1.1% (2.7% if oil products, are excluded). This increase is of course smaller compared to that of the previous three years, when exports increased by a total of 39%, yet it remains a positive development.
• The merchant fleet under Greek flag and ownership has kept its leading role in the competitive globalized international arena and is ranked as the 3rd largest in the world. This fleet is constantly being modernized, thereby ensuring its flexibility and dynamism.
• Our policy remains solidly oriented towards the control and further decrease of the budget deficit. This policy does not only reflect our respect for Greece’s conventional commitments within the framework of the EU’s Stability and Growth Pact, but is also based on the government’s conviction that the reduction of deficits and the achievement of balanced budgets is the only way the conditions for self-supplied growth can be assured.
• As far as the global crisis is concerned, the Greek government acted immediately and decisively towards an efficient handling of the situation, by implementing its reform program consistently and promoting a plan to boost liquidity in domestic markets, with the aim to lower lending interest rates and facilitate lending to enterprises and households.
• The measures include the guarantee of the bank deposits, from 20.000 euros to 100.000 euros, the adoption of a plan of 28 billion euros which will be provided to the Greek commercial banks to enhance liquidity, so as to avoid potential credit suffocation, as well as the recent tax reform, which will be of particular benefit to small and medium enterprises.
• At the same time Greece enhances the liquidity of businesses through accelerating the implementation of the 2007-2013 National Strategic Reference Framework and the Public Investments Programme for 2009. We are also supporting investments, by realizing Public-Private Partnership projects. We continue to reinforce businesses through the Investment Law, which provides strong incentives.

Let me now refer to some of the comparative advantages my country offers and should be seriously considered by those who are willing to explore business opportunities in Greece or the wider area.
 Greece´s strategic position and leading economic role in SE Europe is enhanced by the presence of more than 4.000 Greek-owned companies, 3.200 bank branches and a volume of investments of more than 16 billion €. Our well-established network and know-how make us a valuable and reliable partner, an ideal “springboard” for doing business in the region. Consequently, Greek and Finnish companies can profitably join forces by undertaking joint business activities in the Balkans and Eastern Europe.
 Greece is a world favorite tourist destination welcoming over 14 million visitors every year, 200.000 of which come from Finland. Our country has developed a diversified tourist infrastructure and can accommodate a wide range of thematic holidays such as therapeutic–spa, religious, ecological, agro and conference tourism. More Finnish are welcomed to discover not only Greece, but also the opportunities that our growing real estate market offers, especially in, but not limited to, summer residencies.
 Finally, in the field of Renewable Energy Sources, Greece’s ideal climate conditions offer the appropriate environment for attracting new investments in clean energy.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
• We strongly believe that the above possibilities can be further explored and put into practice through cooperation between our Chambers of Commerce, participation in trade exhibitions, organization of business meetings and the creation of business partnerships.
Let me seize this opportunity and congratulate all those who contributed to the organization of this Business Forum.

In concluding, I would like to express the hope that today’s forum will trigger beneficial contacts and meetings between businessmen of the two countries and will also mark the beginning of a new period of mutually beneficial cooperation between Greek and Finish business communities.

Thank you very much for your attention.