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Επίσκεψη Γενικού Γραμματέα ΔΟΣ & ΑΣ στα Τίρανα (24-25.11.2010)

Τετάρτη, 01 Δεκέμβριος 2010

Την Τετάρτη 24 και την Πέμπτη 25 Νοεμβρίου 2010, ο Γενικός Γραμματέας Διεθνών Οικονομικών Σχέσεων & Αναπτυξιακής Συνεργασίας του Υπουργείου Εξωτερικών κ. Κωνσταντίνος Παπαδόπουλος συμμετείχε στο 4ο Forum Ελληνοαλβανικών Οικονομικών Σχέσεων, το οποίο διοργανώθηκε από το Γραφείο Οικονομικών & Εμπορικών Υποθέσεων της Ελληνικής Πρεσβείας Τιράνων και την Ένωση Ελληνικών Επιχειρήσεων Αλβανίας. Ο κ. Παπαδόπουλος ήταν εισηγητής στο πρώτο πάνελ της πρώτης ημέρας της εκδήλωσης. Το θέμα του πάνελ ήταν «Νέο Οικονομικό Μοντέλο της Αλβανίας και Άμεσες Ξένες Επενδύσεις». Στο ίδιο πάνελ, συντονιστής του οποίου ήταν ο Διευθύνων Σύμβουλος της TIRANA BANK ALBANIA (Τράπεζα Πειραιώς) κ. Δ. Σαντιξής, συμμετείχαν οι κκ. A. Rushaj, Υφυπουργός Οικονομικών της Αλβανίας, και E. Themeli, επικεφαλής του Τμήματος Νομισματικής Πολιτικής της Κεντρικής Τραπέζης της Αλβανίας. Στο περιθώριο του Φόρουμ, ο κ. Γενικός Γραμματέας παρεχώρησε συνέντευξη στον τηλεοπτικό σταθμό Vizion Plus με θέμα τις οικονομικές σχέσεις των δύο χωρών και την ελληνική επιχειρηματική παρουσία στην Αλβανία, ιδιαίτερα υπό το φως της ενταξιακής πορείας της γειτονικής χώρας.

Στη διάρκεια της παραμονής του στα Τίρανα, ο κ. Παπαδόπουλος πραγματοποίησε δύο συναντήσεις με μέλη της Αλβανικής Κυβερνήσεως. Σε συνάντηση με τον Αντιπρόεδρο της Κυβερνήσεως και Υπουργό Οικονομίας, Εμπορίου & Ενέργειας κ. Ilir Meta (24/11) συζητήθηκαν ζητήματα σχετικά με τη διμερή οικονομική και εμπορική συνεργασία καθώς και την υλοποίηση έργων χρηματοδοτούμενων μέσω του Ελληνικού Σχεδίου Οικονομικής Ανασυγκρότησης των Βαλκανίων (ΕΣΟΑΒ) στην Αλβανία. Την ίδια ημέρα, ο κ. Γ.Γ. ΔΟΣ&ΑΣ συναντήθηκε με την Υπουργό Ευρωπαϊκής Ολοκλήρωσης κα Majlinda Bregu, με την οποία αντήλλαξαν απόψεις σχετικά με τις δυνατότητες συνεργασίας στους τομείς, (i) της μεταφοράς τεχνογνωσίας (από την Ελλάδα στην Αλβανία) για την προενταξιακή προσαρμογή στο κοινοτικό κεκτημένο, (ii) της προετοιμασίας για την μελλοντική απορρόφηση κοινοτικών κονδυλίων, και (iii) της αξιοποίησης των προγραμμάτων που χρηματοδοτούνται από κοινοτικά κονδύλια.

Στο περιθώριο της συμμετοχής του στο Forum, ο κ. Παπαδόπουλος παρέστη στα επίσημα εγκαίνια της Διεθνούς Εκθέσεως Klik Ekspo (25/11), όπου συζήτησε με Έλληνες επιχειρηματίες.

Ακολουθεί κείμενο ομιλίας:

Excellencies,
Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

To begin with, I would like to thank the Embassy of Greece and the Hellenic Business Association of Albania for the kind invitation to address you today and congratulate the hosts on organizing this Greek-Albanian Economic Relations Forum for the fourth year in a row.

There is no doubt that events like this, events that give people from government and business the opportunity to exchange views and share their concerns, are important for those of us engaged in promoting bilateral relations and economic development.

I am aware of the fact that this Forum has always taken place in a spirit of optimism.

However, this year there is an additional reason why we should be pleased. After all, it was just a couple of weeks ago that the Justice and Home Affairs Council of the European Union unanimously adopted the proposal to introduce visa-free travel to and throughout the Schengen area for citizens from Albania and Bosnia & Herzegovina possessing biometric passports.

Greece was actually among the first EU Members-States to favour visa liberalization in the Western Balkans, and as holders of the EU Presidency in 2003 we supported the view that this issue should figure clearly in the 2003 Thessaloniki Agenda for the Western Balkans, which it did.

Moreover, as Commissioner Füle recently put it, the visa-free regime is the most convincing proof that reforms at home bring tangible benefits for citizens and progress in relations with the EU.

I know that this step forward means a lot to a country that enthusiastically presented its application for membership of the European Union in April 2009.

Greece has been a firm supporter of Albania’s European aspirations, and we have supported not only Tirana’s decision to submit an application for EU membership, but also the need to reaffirm the EU’s commitment to the European perspective of the Western Balkans as a whole. This, in the face of the scepticism and “enlargement fatigue” felt in the last few years in many countries of the EU.

In this vein, Greece announced the “Agenda 2014”, an initiative aiming at speeding up the process of integrating our Western Balkans partners and friends into the European family. We view this less as a rigid timetable and more as a call to arms: at a time of great shifts in the geography of economic power, we in our region cannot afford not to step up the pace of cooperation. It is only by strengthening our part of the continent, under the umbrella of the EU, that we will be able to cope successfully with globalisation and the increasing competition that will come – indeed, has come – from the new rising economic giants on the other side of the globe.

Dear friends,

Like you, I, too, read the European Commission’s recent Opinion on Albania, issued on 9/11/2010.

Although there still are many things to be done (and the Eurocrats are not afraid to tell things as they are), there is ample acknowledgement of the progress made by Albania towards meeting the economic criteria set by the Copenhagen European Council in 1993. In respect to those criteria, Albania can be proud of a positive track record in its efforts to establish a functioning market economy, toward macroeconomic stability and toward aligning its legislation with that of the EU.

Sometimes, the public tends to be sceptical about the technical character of the EU enlargement process. In the minds of citizens, the ultimate goals of membership are stability, prosperity and the creation of a frontier-free area within which people, goods, services and capital can move freely. The long road to full membership and the highly demanding preparation process are often regarded as tiring, tedious or even unnecessary.

But, as the President of the European Council Herman van Rompuy said at the beginning of the month in his first “State of Europe” address in Berlin, the ongoing enlargement is not just a bureaucratic process from Brussels; it is about getting to terms with the events since 1989. As President van Rompuy declared unequivocally, the unification of the continent is not yet complete: this is why the countries of the Western Balkans deserve help to fulfil their European destiny. And this is also the reason why it is worth going through this procedure.

That is why we stand ready to do our bit, and cooperate with you, by sharing the know-how, expertise and experience we have gained as members of the EU.

We can offer support to Albania for the harmonization of its legislation with the EU acquis in certain key sectors; not across-the-board – for as I just said, the harmonisation process has already yielded very positive results on the whole – but rather in certain specific areas, such as environmental legislation, customs legislation and the practical aspects pertaining to this, in the area of Public-Private Partnerships, and in administrative capacity-building aimed at improving management systems for future structural fund inflows.

We are also ready to cooperate in the implementation of IPA projects. Our common trans-border programme is a good example of this kind of cooperation. We are willing to expand this cooperation in other fields. IPA 2010 projects offer several possibilities for cooperation in the fields of governance, justice, transport and environment, just to name a few.

Finally, Greece is ready to offer its know-how in implementing programmes and projects financed by multilateral development organizations and other financial institutions.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

In addition to the overall political and economic benefits attributed to EU membership, the experience of the countries that joined the EU in the previous enlargement rounds shows that candidate countries are able to attract more Foreign Direct Investment inflows than non-candidate countries.

Potential investors are aware of the fact that full membership is contingent upon several far-reaching reforms, affecting the national business and investment environment. The anticipation of these reforms encourages potential investors to trust and select a candidate country over other FDI destination countries. This kind of initial investment lays the foundation for improved economic performance and thus stimulates further FDI inflows.

As the largest foreign investor in Albania [$ 1.2 billion invested], Greece is strongly interested in such an Albanian success. This is why we align ourselves fully with the European Commission Opinion references to the necessity of moving forward the reforms agenda, including judiciary reform the fight against corruption, the respect for human and minority rights and the fair restitution of property.

The Greek interest in the creation of a hospitable investment environment is attested by the priorities of Hellenic development aid granted to Albania over the previous years. Greek funds were mainly allocated to the following sectors: Education, Health and social services, Modernization of Public Administration, Infrastructure, Environment and Culture. Albania is the largest recipient of Greek development assistance. Over the period 2002-2009, the total Hellenic development aid to Albania amounted to 249.68 million Euros.

Albania’s status as an EU potential candidate country and the entry into force (April 2009) of Albania’s Stabilization and Association Agreement with the EU has widened the scope of cooperation between our two countries. Thus, we could explore jointly new possibilities for bilateral development cooperation. Let me just say that our current priority areas for development cooperation include social and economic investment projects (infrastructure development, new technologies, etc.), rural development, the fight against human trafficking, the environment and climate change – with an emphasis on the promotion of Renewable Energy Sources and energy-efficiency projects – culture, migration and good governance.

After a one-year freeze on new projects dictated by Greece’s difficult fiscal situation, Hellenic Aid is currently elaborating a new five-year strategy for development cooperation and assistance (2011-2015). According to this framework, the Western Balkans will be one of the priority regions.

Dear Friends,

Greek-Albanian commercial and economic relations, particularly business relations, are remarkably dynamic.

For a long time, Greece has been one of Albania’s major trading partners. In 2009, Greece ranked second among Albania’s suppliers. The total value of Greek exports to Albania amounted to €540m. This amount represents 16.5% of Albania’s total imports. The total value of Albanian exports to Greece amounted to €57m. This represents 7.2% of Albania’s total exports. Despite the international crisis last year, the volume of bilateral trade held up remarkably well.

At present, around 270 Greek companies operate in Albania in various business sectors: telecommunications, banking, construction, energy, information technology, health, foodstuffs, clothing and footwear. They have been making a significant contribution to Albania’s economic development.

When speaking about bilateral economic relations one should certainly not forget capital flows generated by Albanians residing in Greece. Aside from investing in Greece itself, most of these people send remittances to their country. This capital is used to buy land, build apartments or finance entrepreneurial activities. Last but not least, remittances deposited in banks strengthen the domestic banking system.

Despite the difficult international economic situation and the very satisfactory level of Greek-Albanian business cooperation, there is – of course – room for improvement.

We believe that there is potential for new joint initiatives in important sectors such as agriculture, transport, tourism and services in general. Moreover, this could act as a small-scale breeding ground for the “New Business Model” for Albania, about which we will hear more from the next speakers.

At this point, I would like to conclude by saying that this Forum provides strong evidence of both the remarkable results of the cooperation between two neighbouring countries and the desire to expand and deepen this cooperation even further.

Finally, I would like to thank more particularly the Economic and Commercial Office of our Embassy here in Tirana, and its dedicated staff, for their good work in making a success of this 4th Forum, and remind all of you that the Office is at your disposal and ready to respond to all your business needs.

Thank you for your attention.