Deputy Foreign Minister Spyros Kouvelis on Thursday held a meeting with Greek business people with activities in North African countries, especially Egypt and Libya, and stressed that Greece's economic diplomacy was not "stepping back" as a result of the upheaval in the region.

"On the contrary, we are moving forward dynamically," Kouvelis stressed. "This is not the time to back away but to seek a role for Greece through economic diplomacy in the region."

The meeting formed part of a series of foreign ministry initiatives coordinated by Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas to support Greek business people, assess the situation and examine the next steps with mutually beneficial action in these countries.

Speaking to the ANA-MPA, Kouvelis stressed that the biggest risk was in Libya where the situation was most fluid and there was uncertainty about whether government contracts and terms of payment with businesses would be honoured by the government that arose there.

"We are trying to ensure that there are no damages and that signed contracts are honoured," he said.

The deputy minister also asked companies active in the region to record any damages they suffered as a result of the unrest, so that the Greek state might seek compensation from a future Libyan government.

Kouvelis underlined the Greek government's willingness to support a Greek presence in Egypt and to contribute to a positive business and investment climate in that country but stressed that the Egyptian side must also acknowledge Greece's contribution and respond to demands for easier procedures and to uphold the terms of contracts with Greek businesses.

The most important Greek companies active in Egypt and Libya are Mytilineos Holdings, J&P Avax, P. Samaras Group, Phytorgan, Titan Cement, Chipita, J&P Energy, Terna, SN Argyros-Bluepoint, Papasavvas, Kopelouzos Group, Piraeus Bank, Antaea Medical, Olympic Air, Marac Electronics, CCC Group, Kourtidis, Vegas Oil & Gas (Vardinoyiannis group), Handris Hellas, Er-Lac Koutlis AVEE, National Bank of Greece, Hellenic Petroleum, Maritech, and Intracom Defence Electronics.