Abdullah bin Zayed announces major investment project in Greece
Athens: H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE Foreign Minister, yesterday announced the launch of a major Emirati-Greek investment project for development of the site of Athens old airport, at a total cost of over 7 billion Euros. Al Maabar International Investment will execute the multi-phase project.
Sheikh Abdullah said the project is expected, when complete, to generate more than 50,000 job opportunities.
H.H. Sheikh Abdullah also announced that Abu Dhabi Investment Council had offered a bid for acquiring the luxurious Astir Palace Resort, Athens, and that Abu Dhabi National Energy Company PJSC (TAQA) and Greece's Terna Energy would sign a framework agreement for exploring potential investment opportunities in the energy sector in Greece.
The UAE Foreign Minister announced these multi-billion developments during his opening remarks at the second meeting of the UAE-Greece Joint Ministerial Committee in the capital, Athens, which he co-chaired with Greek Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, Evangelos Venizelo, in the presence of Dr. Sultan bin Ahmed Al Jaber, Minister of State.
In his speech, Sheikh Abdullah emphasised that the UAE was eager to boost its economic, investment and trade relations with Greece in accordance with the political will of the governments in both countries.
Sheikh Abdullah expressed his thanks to the Greek Minister for hosting the second meeting of the committee, stressing the UAE's sincere desire to strengthen its relations with Greece.
The UAE Foreign Minister also expressed gratitude to the Government of Greece for its support for the UAE's bid to get the Schengen visa exemption for UAE citizens as well as its support for the UAE's bid to host the World Expo 2020.
'The UAE and Greece maintain distinguished, historic ties and today's meeting allows us to reiterate our commitment to enhance these ties to reflect the ambitions and aspirations of the higher leaderships in the UAE and Greece in a manner that serves the mutual objectives and interests of our friendly countries,' H.H. Sheikh Abdullah said.
He emphasised that cooperation between UAE and Greek officials was continuing unabated, expressing his hopes for broader joint coordination and action in international organisations and conferences, as well as the key agenda issues in international gatherings and mutual support for candidacies of each country in international organisations.
Sheikh Abdullah said he was looking forward to Greece's support for the UAE's candidacy for non-permanent membership of the UN Security Council for the period 2022-2023, nomination for re-election of members of the UN Human Rights Council for 2016-2018, nomination for re-election to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) for 2015-2018, and finally for the nomination for re-election to the ITU's Radio Regulations Board (RRB) for 2015-2018.
Sheikh Abdullah emphasised the UAE support for Greece's presidency of the EU, stressing the importance of the achievement Greece had made in riding over the difficult economic challenges and circumstances.
The next period, he added, would be promising for both countries especially in terms of investment opportunities available in Greece in areas of energy. He also stressed the need for both countries to harness their capabilities to serve mutual interest.
H.H. Sheikh Abdullah said, "Greece is one of the key partners for the UAE, and I would like to confirm that the second meeting of the joint committee provides a precious opportunity to strengthen and leverage bilateral ties and to present practical ideas and solutions that could help in removing any obstacles hindering progress of these ties.' He went on to say, 'The meeting will underpin the success of and the many objectives achieved by the first meeting in terms of strengthening our ties. We will continue our diligent work to deliver more objectives that serve our friendly countries.' Sheikh Abdullah commended the work teams, co-chaired by Dr. Sultan bin Ahmed Al Jaber, UAE Minister of State, and Notis Mitarachi, Greek Vice Minister for Development and Competitiveness, who, he said, had worked diligently to bolster joint cooperation, coordinate some projects to reach feasible results, in addition to reviewing unfinished agreements, particularly the one on avoidance of double taxation on income and protection of investment.
Sheikh Abdullah expressed his pleasure at the ever-developing ties, noting that Greece would emerge as a major destination for attracting investment and tourism from around the world.
Turing to the agenda of the committee meeting, the UAE foreign minister said the two sides explored mechanisms of joint cooperation in investment, economic, financial, banking, consular, cultural, tourism, sports, agricultural, energy and aviation sectors.
Citing trade statistics, Sheikh Abdullah said that trade exchange stood at 438 million Euros, a figure which doesn't match the rapid progress of bilateral ties and this requires finding better mechanisms and channels to increase trade exchange.
Sheikh Abdullah stressed the important role the private sector can play in this respect.
Concluding his speech, Sheikh Abdullah emphasised the need for following up and implementing recommendations of the committee so as to advance bilateral cooperation.
He also expressed his thanks to heads and members of the preparatory committee for their hard work which contributed to the success of the second meeting. He said that Abu Dhabi would host the third meeting of the committee.
For his part, Evangelos Venizelo welcomed Sheikh Abdullah and his accompanying delegation, describing his visit as 'extremely important' as it underpins the significance of ties between the two countries, which based on joint cooperation and mutual trust.
He said Greece and UAE have a true partnership and today have the legal framework to take these investment relations to new heights. The Greek minister expressed his pleasure that the two countries had begun to harvest fruit of their ties.
Afterwards, Sheikh Abdullah and Venizelo attended the signing of a series of agreements and Memoranda of Understanding and minutes of the second meeting of the UAE-Greece Joint Ministerial Committee.
The two countries signed the Bilateral Investment Protection and Promotion Agreement (BIPA) and a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on sports cooperation.
Yousef Al Nowais, Managing Director of Al Maabar International Investment, Mariana Latsis, Executive Director of Latsis Group, and Odisseas Athanassiou, CEO Lamda Development, signed a cooperation agreement for provision of expertise on real estate development.
Dr Saif Al Sayari, CEO of the Energy Solutions division, Abu Dhabi National Energy Company (TAQA), and George Peristeris, CEO of GEK TERNA Group, signed a MoU for exploring potential investment opportunities in energy sector.
Brigadier Pilot Fares Khalaf Al Mazrouie, Chairman of the Critical Infrastructure and Coastal Protection Authority (CICPA), and Major General Athanasius Macres of Greece inked an initial MoU on joint military cooperation.
UAE Ambassador to Greece Sultan Mohammed Al Ali, and senior Emirati and Greek officials attended meetings of the committee.