The first event of the newly established Israel-Greece Chamber of Commerce was held with big success, with the presence of top Greek and Israeli ministers and officials and with the participation of 200 pioneering and distinguished Israeli businessmen, at a central hotel of Tel Aviv.
The President of Israel, Mr. Reuve Rivlin, stressed in his greeting that the establishment of the Chamber of Commerce will contribute to the strengthening and enhancement of our cooperation and relations in multiple sectors. Furthermore, he thanked Mr. Sabby Mionis for his continuous support to Israel and for his contribution in the friendship between Greece and Israel.
The purpose of the event, the keynote speaker of which was Mrs. Anne-Laure Kiechel, counsel of the Hellenic State, representing Rothschild bank, was the promotion of the unique investment opportunities presented in different sectors of the Greek economy for the Israeli business community.
The Greek Government was represented by the Minister of Digital Policy, Mr. Nikos Pappas, the Deputy Minister of Finance, Mr.Alexis Charitsis, and the head of the Prime Minister’s Financial Office, Mr. Giorgos Tsipras, as well as the Greek ambassador in Israel, Mr. Kostas Mpikas, who all welcomed the initiative and the mission of the Israel-Greece Chamber of Commerce to share and assist the further consolidation of the rapidly developing bilateral relations.
Sabby Mionis, Chairman of the Israel-Greece Chamber of Commerce, stressed that this is a time favoring investment opportunities in a neighboring country with common values, and that Greece may find loyal friends in Israeli businessmen, who will contribute to its path towards growth.
Mr. Mionis said: “Greece today has managed to overcome many of the challenges it faced in the past few years, has re invented itself through painful sacrifices and hard work and is becoming the land of opportunity; an opportunity so close to Israel that is impossible to miss. Every year more than 650,000 Israelis can attest to Greece’s unique and unrivaled beauty as a tourist destination but there are hidden treasures within the Greek society waiting to be discovered. Greece has a well-educated human capital and high quality of products and companies whose potential is being restrained by the recent economic adversity the country has faced.
Based on the increasing interest we are seeing by Israeli companies in many industries, from high tech to agriculture and from medicine to services, we are convinced that Israel can become one of the pillars of Greece’s future growth. Greece needs friends and it can count on Israel to be a loyal and trusting friend. Loyalty is anyways one of the virtues of the Jewish culture.
The presence here today of so many esteemed Ministers and high ranking government officials from both countries, is tangible evidence of the commitment of both governments to build a strong and long-lasting partnership. The warm and enthusiastic participation of so many Israeli business leaders, attests to the bright future that lies ahead of us.
I would like to close on a personal reflection. Being here today, heading this initiative, is like a gift from God for me. As a kid, growing up in Greece at a time when the two countries didn’t even have diplomatic relations, I dreamt of the day when Israel and Greece would become friends. Today, I feel like a child whose estranged parents decided to get married. I consider myself privileged to have contributed to this relationship through my activism and I look forward to using my business experience to make the Israel Greece Chamber of Commerce and Industry the Israeli gateway to doing business in Greece while further strengthening the bond between the two countries.”
Mr. Alexis Charitsis presented the investment opportunities opening up in Greece. As he mentioned, “now is the right time for investments in Greece”, emphasizing on the improvement of economic indicators, on the new financing tools that enhance entrepreneurship and on institutional interventions. In fact, he added that “it is a main priority of the government to change the productive model, focusing on knowledge economy, research, innovation and on the improvement of business’ extroversion, as well as on the promotion of synergies of SMEs with big international and domestic investors”.
Mr. Nikos Pappas presented details on the financial recovery of Greece, explaining that the country “is already in a new era”. Within this context, per his words, “we are investing in the development of new telecommunications, energy and commercial networks. We are investing in innovative efforts and new technologies, and even in space technologies, since just two days ago we presented the Hellenic Space Agency. We are also investing in the country’s beauty and history, providing incentives for the production of audiovisual works in Greece”.
The Minister of Digital Policy, Telecommunications and Media stated that “both our countries, Greece and Israel, work together for the prosperity of the peoples of the Southeast Mediterranean, in an effort in which Cyprus also participates”, while he referred to this year’s Thessaloniki International Fair and its significance for the region. He also called upon the members of the Chamber to participate therein, saying that “the relations of Israel with Thessaloniki date back a long time”.
Finally, Mr. Giorgos Tsipras, head of the Prime Minister’s Financial Office, stressed that “the bilateral relations of Greece and Israel are excellent and this must also be reflected in partnerships in the financial and business sector. This is something that both sides seek and anticipate, and I am certain that we will make it”.