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Greek ambassador to focus on trade

Friday, 03 December 2010

Ottawa Citizen December 1, 2010

Greek ambassador to focus on trade

By Jennifer Campbell,

Greece's new ambassador to Canada says the Greek people know austerity is the key to getting their economy back on track and, while they might not like it, they're willing to sacrifice for the good of the country.

"Greece was faced with a very difficult economic situation," Eleftherios Anghelopoulos said Monday, a few days after he presented his credentials at Rideau Hall. "Greece had to take decisions that were very difficult because the ramifications for the Greek people were going to be difficult.

"People in Greece realize this is extremely important for the future of the country and for addressing the structural problems for the Greek economy. They are determined to do whatever is needed to improve the situation and put the country back on its normal development process."

Asked about the extension proposed in light of the EU's bailout of Ireland, Anghelopoulos said he didn't have confirmation that was happening but if it did, it would make things a little easier for the government.

"But what is key to the success of all the effort is for the people to be ready to make the sacrifice and for the government to be firm," he said.

Theodossis Demetracopoulos, Greece's counsellor in charge of communications, noted that in the first 10 months of austerity, deficit numbers have greatly improved. "That's not the only indicator but it's one," he said.

For his mission in Ottawa, Anghelopoulos plans to make trade a priority and that goal kicks off with a visit by Trade Minister Peter Van Loan to Greece Dec. 9 and 10. The ambassador said new Greek legislation will improve and accelerate investment in Greece and suggests renewable energy, tourism investment, and agro-industry are all areas for Canada to tap.

He'd also like to see more exports of famous Greek products, including feta cheese, Greek wine, and Kalamata olives, he said.