Greek Ambassador: Greece expects to be a gateway for Vietnamese goods to enter EU

Greek Ambassador to Viet Nam Georgios Stilianopoulos hopes that bilateral economic and trade cooperation will have new steps through the visit of President Katerina Sakellaropoulou.
Greek Ambassador Georgios Stilianopoulos: Greece expects to be a gateway for Vietnamese goods to enter EU
Greek Ambassador to Viet Nam Georgios Stilianopoulos.

Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou will pay an official visit to Viet Nam from May 15-19. The visit will be made at the invitation of President Nguyen Xuan Phuc.

In an interview with The World and Viet Nam Report before the visit, Greek Ambassador to Viet Nam Georgios Stilianopoulos highlighted the significance of President Katerina Sakellaropoulou's official visit to Viet Nam, and expressed his expectations for the new development in economic-trade cooperation and tourism in the future.

His Excellency, could you touch on the purpose and significance the Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou’s upcoming visit to Viet Nam?

First of all, I would like to point out that Her Excellency Ms Katerina Sakellaropoulou’s upcoming official visit to Viet Nam, is the second one that the President of the Hellenic Republic pays to your country, and the first to Ho Chi Minh City, the economic and industrial centre of this friendly country.

- Viet Nam and Greece established diplomatic relations on April 15, 1975.

- In March 2007, Greece opened its embassy in Hanoi.

- In December 2010, Viet Nam opened an embassy in Athens.

- Viet Nam officially opened the Embassy of Viet Nam in Greece on March 26, 2012.

This undoubtedly underlines the particular significance that my country attributes to further strengthening and deepening the existing excellent bilateral relations and cooperation in several fields, with a country which is one of the most dynamic development nations in South-East Asia with an active presence in all regional, as well as international, fora.

In a globalized world, it is particularly important that countries make serious efforts towards establishing a network of bilateral relations for their mutual benefit, even when geographically located far apart from each other.

This is what happens between Viet Nam and Greece, two nations that, albeit distant, have managed during the 47 years of their diplomatic relations, to construct bridges, to shape a substantial and constructive relationship, to achieve an important development in their bilateral cooperation, to sign a number of agreements and economic contracts.

In order to realize the above goals and jointly work on economic recovery after the COVID-19 pandemic, what will be the Greek President’s priority during her time in Viet Nam?

Over the years, bilateral trade between Viet Nam and Greece has made encouraging progress. However, it still does not reflect the true potential of both countries.

I therefore believe that now, in the post-COVID-19 pandemic era, Greece should work closely with Viet Nam in order to pursue further cooperation, both on a bilateral and on a multilateral level, so as to accelerate our recovery from the pandemic and ultimately improve the lives of the citizens of both our countries.

Last November, the Vietnamese Vice-President, Ms. Vo Thi Anh Xuan, paid an official visit to Greece. During the meeting with the Greek President, Ms Sakellaropoulou, both sides agreed, among others, to enhance delegation exchanges and visits at every level, towards expanding bilateral economic trade, investment, cultural and tourism ties.

In the framework of this visit, our President announced the donation of 250.000 Astra-Zeneca vaccine doses to Viet Nam, which were delivered soonest, a gesture of solidarity towards the Vietnamese people, demonstrating the loyal friendship between our two nations.

Greek Ambassador Georgios Stilianopoulos: Greece expects to be a gateway for Vietnamese goods to enter EU
Vice-President Vo Thi Anh Xuan meets President Katerina Sakellaropoulou during her official visit to Greece, November 2021. (Source:VNA)

There is no doubt that our priorities should be focused on stepping up trade exchanges and developing potential areas such as:

On Agri-food sector, due to its climate and geomorphology, Greece has high-quality primary production. The Greek land continues to endow us with quality products and raw materials with nutritional value: the basis of the Mediterranean diet. Our food industry respects tradition, while investing in innovation research and sustainable production methods.

On shipping infrastructure and transport services on port and rail networks, the supply chain and cargo handling continue to provide fertile ground for new investment and business partnerships. Greece is a maritime nation since ancient times and owns today the world’s largest merchant fleet; shipping is a major contributor to our national economy.

On pharmaceutical industry, the sector invests in modern technology, research and development, production infrastructure, but also in human resources.

On energy, Greece has a high level of expertise and experience in the field of renewable and alternative sources such as solar thermal systems and waste recycling.

On transit trade and the supply chain, thanks to its geographical location, Greece can connect with the markets of Europe, the Middle East and the Black Sea. As the pandemic has highlighted the need for flexible regional supply chains, this advantage has recently gained value.

My country, an EU member at the crossroad of the Mediterranean, the Balkans, South-Eastern Europe and Asia, possesses, as I have already mentioned, both the geographical location and the transport infrastructure, as well as the human capital, to constitute a trade hub aiming at supporting and developing trade investments in and out of Europe.

On the other hand, Viet Nam, with a population of 95 million and a fast-growing economy, is a rising economic power in South-East Asia and offers ever-renewed opportunities for an increase in trade exchange and investments.

Further, it should be noted that Greece was one of the countries to ratify the EU-Viet Nam Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA), it supported the early adoption of the EU-Viet Nam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) and has already ratified the EU-Viet Nam Investment Protection Agreement (EVIPA).

Greece would like Viet Nam to strengthen its relations with the EU and it expects to be a gateway for Vietnamese goods to enter our region.

Both Greece and Viet Nam attach great importance to tourism development. In a post-COVID-19 world, both countries are reopening their borders for tourists. Can you share the experience of Greece's tourism recovery after the COVID-19 pandemic?

Tourism, one of the strongest economic activities in Greece as well as in Viet Nam, is another sector of common interest that we need to further exploit and promote.

The 2007 Agreement of Cooperation between Greece and Viet Nam in the field of tourism provides grounds for mutual flows through promotion, by facilitating investment, selling expertise in the fields of tourism, education and training.

Battling the COVID-19 pandemic in my country has become a key priority in relation to tourism. So we managed to achieve it successfully.

Today, COVID-safe Greece is one of the top tourist destinations in the world, a country of unique beauty, which has something special to offer to every visitor with diversity in landscapes, experiences, activities, gastronomy, and a more than 3,000-year-old culture. It is a place where wonderful experiences never end, where there is always more to explore, to discover, to see, to taste, to feel.

Greece strongly aspires to welcome, this summer and the years to come, a greater number of Vietnamese citizens to “Come and Live their own Myth in Greece”, to be drawn to the country’s epic intellectual history.

Thank you Ambassador!

Biography of Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou
Greek President to pay official visit to Viet Nam
Vice President Vo Thi Anh Xuan wraps up visit to Greece
Vice President Vo Thi Anh Xuan pays official visit to Greece
Viet Nam, Greece to promote bilateral cooperation: Embassy
(Source: TGVN)