The Greek Ambassador to Romania, HE Vassilis Papadopoulos, took time out to talk with OZB about his nation’s relationship with Romania, areas where Greece and Romania cooperate most and areas with potential and it seems that just as much as Romanians love Greece, the Greeks love Romania.
By Fulvia Meirosu
- What are the main areas of cooperation between Greece and Romania?
The countries, both members of the EU, have excellent relations in many areas in political, economic, commercial, cultural, and other sectors: energy, tourism, European programs, cooperation between the regions etc.
As a result of our longstanding friendship and our historic and cultural ties, our high-level political cooperation is growing even stronger. Romania and Greece work together in bilateral, European, Euro-Atlantic and multilateral level including within the framework of many international organizations and regional initiatives. Since the 1990’s, Greece has spared no effort to strongly support Romania in its aspirations to join both NATO and the EU. Today, our countries are strong partners and allies within the EU and NATO. We both support the continuation and strengthening of the European integration and we both believe in the unity and cohesion of the EU, which should remain firmly committed to its principles. They are of the utmost importance for both the Union itself and its citizens. Moreover, Greece remains a steady supporter of the accession of Romania to the Schengen area.
As far as the economy field is concerned, the continuous inflow of Greek Direct Investments, despite the crisis, represents one of the core characteristics of the economic and trade relations between the two countries. At the end of 2017, the invested capital of Greek companies in Romania was estimated at around 1.83 billion Euros. The number of registered companies of Greek capital or participation reached the amount of 6,988. The total value of the Greek Direct Investments in Romania exceeds 4 billion Euros. According to these data, Greece ranks 7th among the foreign investors in Romania. About 25.000 job positions have been created in Romania by Greek businesses during the years.
Another very important field of collaboration between Greece and Romania is tourism. According to the Association of Tourist Offices of Romania, Greece steadily remains a summer destination for more than 1 million Romanian tourists. The flights between Bucharest and Athens are frequent, since 3 airplane companies are currently connecting the two capitals. We hope that the strong cultural links between our countries will inspire also more Greek tourists to visit Romania. The Bucharest Office of the Greek National Tourism Organization is at the disposal of travelers for any useful information.
In conclusion, allow me to stress my optimism that our long standing friendship and our fruitful multilevel cooperation will create mutually advantageous results and more opportunities for a prosperous future that our two countries deserve.
- What are the key opportunities for Greece in Romania? And for Romania in Greece?
Greece and Romania continue to enhance political cooperation, cooperation within the European Union and regional synergies in a world that becomes more uncertain every day. For Greece the cooperation in the political field is a factor of stability in the Balkans as well as in the broader region. The economic and commercial sector is also of the utmost importance (Greek investments in Romania, promotion of our exports, promotion of the Greek tourism, participation in various EU supported infrastructure projects), as well as the cooperation in the field of energy and transportation, in high tech and innovation and the participation in the European programmes.
For Romania, what is of importance in the bilateral field is the cooperation in the area of energy, the promotion of Romanian exports to Greece and diversification of categories of products, cooperation in the field of RnD, of transfer of knowhow for tourism issues etc.
Our cultural cooperation is equally important in the line of the aforementioned tradition. Cultural ties bring people together and constitute the foundation for a long lasting friendship.
- Greek investors continue to come to Romania. What motivates them?
Greek investors continue to come to Romania and to invest in various sectors like food industry, heavy industry (aluminium products), trade, retail, services, construction, medical, tourism and hotels etc.
In 2017 according to the data from the ONRC the Greek investments in Romania reached the amount of 250 million Euros and following our data taking in consideration the amounts coming through other countries (Holland, Cyprus, Luxembourg) reached the amount of 400 million Euros.
New investments were made during the last years. We mention the investments of Coca Cola HBC (Hellenic Bottling Company), Olympus (Fabrica de lactate Brasov) ICME-ECAB, ALUMIL, FATROM, Divertiland etc).
Greek investors consider that the Romanian economy respects, in terms of macroeconomic data, the estimates of international organizations.
In addition, the small distance between the two countries, the tax and fiscal incentives on reinvested capital are considered as positive points for the Romanian business environment, but should make continuous efforts to improve infrastructure and avoid tax changes.
- What are the main Greek Investments in Romania?
During the last decades, Romania has been an important destination for Greek investments. In the end of 2017, Greece ranked 7th among the countries that invested in Romania, with 6,988 companies of Greek interest registered at the Commercial Registry of Romania, the total investment of which surpassed 1.8 bn Euros (ONRC).
Based on the ONRC data, 410 new companies of Greek interest were established in Romania during 2017 and the share of the total Greek invested capital in Romania reached up to 4,18%.
According to the estimations of the Office for Economic and Commercial Affairs of the Embassy of Greece in Romania, over 1,500 Greek companies are currently active in Romania, with the total invested capital of companies of Greek interest surpassing 4 billion Euros, taking into consideration the volume of investments of Greek capital companies, their capital increase, their capital transfers through other countries (Cyprus, the Netherlands, Luxembourg) as well as the absorption of European Funds.
- Who are the main Greek investors/ businesses in Romania?
Greek investments are covering a wide spectrum of sectors: food and beverages (Chipita, Olympos Dairy, Ifantis, KB Karamolegos, Best Foods, Coca-Cola HBC, Alexandrion Group, Valvis Holding etc.), banking sector (Alpha Bank, Banca Romaneasca, Marfin Bank), Real Estate Developers (GlobalWorth), wholesale, retail and distribution networks (Genco Trade, Elgeka Ferfelis, Sarantis, Jumbo etc.), production of metallic products(ICME-ECAB, Alumil, Etem, Siderom etc.), building materials (Black Sea Suppliers, Isomat, Atlas Corporation etc.), health services and equipment (Medsana, Sofmedica, Euromedics, Imedica, Cytogenomic etc.), agriculture and livestock (FATROM, Minco etc.), consulting and legal services (ICAP, TPG Group, law firms Rokas, E. Navridis, Drakopoulos etc.), constructions (Aktor, Octagon etc).
The companies pertaining to Greek interests vary in size from medium to large scale and employ currently almost 20,000 employees.
- What are your priorities during your mandate ?
The main priorities for my mandate here are two: to further enhance the economic and commercial cooperation between the entrepreneurial communities of our two countries (investment, bilateral trade, European programs and regional cooperation), which has still great potential and the strengthening of cultural and educational bonds between our countries.
Greece: an all year beloved destination for Romanians
Greece once again became the first tourist destination for Romanians. We would like to thank the Romanian Association of Tour Operators “ANAT” as well as the Romanian people who visit our country. Overall, in 2017, Greece received around 30 million foreigners who spent over 15 billion euros.
According to the official data from ELSTAT, in the first nine months of 2017 about 1,073,500 Romanian tourists arrived in Greece in comparison to 947,200 tourists during the same period of 2016, representing an impressive increase of 13.3%. According to the data from ANAT in 2017 the number of Romanian tourists that travelled to Greece exceeded 1,300,000 persons.
The average Romanian tourist visiting Greece stays about 7 days and spends approximately 400 €, without taking into account the travel expenses. Their main destinations are: the Region of Northern Greece and in particular Halkidiki, Thasos, Pieria and Thessaloniki, as well as Evoia, the Ionian Islands and Parga. The charter flights during the summer to Athens, Rhodes, Crete, Zakynthos, Skiathos, Cyclades as well as charter flights to Athens from Contanţa, Cluj and other cities further enhance travelling to regions of Southern Greece.
During 2017, air traffic between Romania and Greece increased by 16,82% in comparison to 2016. According to the Greek Civil Aviation Authority, 335,270 people travelled from Romania to Greece, out of which 302,640 travelled by air from Bucharest to Athens and 32,631 to other destinations. There are 3 direct flights per day between Bucharest and Athens, one from Bucharest to Thessaloniki and soon one more from Cluj to Athens will be added in the flight map.
During their stay in Greece, Romanian tourists enjoy the Mediterranean cuisine, the ‘philoxenia’ (hospitality) of the Greek people, benefitting from the sea and the sun and experiencing specialized kinds of tourism, such as religious, culinary and health tourism, as well as agrotourism or conference tourism. It is well known that Greece is a destination for all seasons and all preferences.
In 2018, Greece is expected to attract even more tourists from Romania than in previous years, given the fact that the country remains a well-known destination of preference for Romanians. It is stable and secure, with a variety of landscapes, hospitable throughout the year providing high quality products and a wide spectrum of holiday activities. Furthermore, as Romanians tend to be better acquainted with Greece, they are more inclined to discover more and more Greek destinations, including Northern Aegean Islands (Samos, Lesvos, Ikaria, Chios, Limnos), the Peloponnese Region, Epirus, Thessaly and more Cycladic Islands.