PM Tsipras: Greece can act as a conduit for establishing economic, trade and energy ties between Iran and the EU

Greece can act as a conduit for establishing economic, trade and energy ties between Iran and the European Union, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said in Tehran on Sunday, on the first day of a two-day visit to Iran.

Tsipras, who has arrived at the head of a large and high-ranking government delegation, outlined a framework of what he called strategic cooperation with Iran, during his visit to the Pardis Technology Park (PTP), where he noted that the two countries could collaborate in the areas of technology and innovation, energy, trade, culture and shipping.

Receiving the Greek prime minister, PTP President Mahdi Safarinia said that Tsipras was “the most independent leader in Europe” and explained that the PTP’s membership included 30 hi-tech companies employing more than 3,000 scientists. He said the Greek premier’s visit could be the start of cooperation between the two countries in technology, noting that Iran currently ranked seventh in the world in the development of nanotechnology.

Safarinia invited Greek companies involved in research and technology to participate in the major innovation and
technology exhibition taking place in Iran in May.

Tsipras replied by referring to the historic bonds between the two countries and noting that the Greek government had made a choice to develop ties of a strategic nature with Iran. He also highlighted that Greece had significant human resources in the technology sector.

“Our two countries are joined by the important bonds of two strong cultures but we can also be joined in the future through cooperation in a series of areas, such as new technologies,” he said.

Tsipras also noted that Greece has an independent foreign policy and, in spite of the crisis, was spreading its wings to cooperate with important countries in the region, such as Iran.

The Greek prime minister, who departed for Tehran at the head of a large government delegation on Saturday, is to visit the Iranian capital for two days on Sunday and Monday. He is expected to have a series of significant meetings and discussions on bilateral and regional issues, being the first western leader to visit Iran after an agreement was reached on Iran’s nuclear programme.

The Greek government sees the visit as a “strategic choice” that will lay the foundations for expanding relations with Iran and also highlight Greece’s positive role in the region. Officials in both Athens and Tehran have expressed an intention to give a powerful boost to bilateral relations and to act as factors for stability in a troubled region of the world.

Government sources noted that Greece was proceeding to rekindle its relations with Iran, after reaffirming the strategic cooperation of Greece and Cyprus with both Israel and Egypt, and establishing relations with “a regional player having considerable influence, who is returning onto the global scene after having normalised relations with the west.”

The focus during bilateral contacts is expected to centre on energy and renewable energy sources, construction, water management, tourism (with a view to attracting Iranian tourists to visit Greece), culture, finance, food and the pharmaceuticals industry.

Apart from the prime minister, the Greek delegation also includes Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias, Economy, Development and Tourism Minister George Stathakis, Environment and Energy Minister Panos Skourletis, Deputy Foreign Minister Dimitris Mardas and the foreign ministry’s General Secretary for International Economic Relations and Developmental Cooperation Giorgos Tsipras.

Starting the visit at the historic city of Isfahan, the Greek delegation will then have a series of meetings in the Iranian capital on Monday, including ones with Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khameini and Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani, leading to the signature of several agreements.