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Athens seminar focuses on closer Greek-Israeli relations

Δημοσίευση 14 Ιανουαρίου 2011, 10:58 / Ανανεώθηκε 27 Ιουνίου 2013, 14:55
Athens seminar focuses on closer  Greek-Israeli relations
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Burgeoning Greek-Israeli ties were the focus of a seminar in Athens on Thursday, which coincided with a two-day visit to the east Mediterranean country by Israeli FM Avigdor Lieberman and following recent high-profile reciprocal visits by each country's prime minister.

Burgeoning Greek-Israeli ties were the focus of a seminar in Athens on Thursday, which coincided with a two-day visit to the east Mediterranean country by Israeli FM Avigdor Lieberman and following recent high-profile reciprocal visits by each country's prime minister.

Beginning his address in Greek before a packed hall in downtown Athens, noted Israeli academic Amikam Nachmani cited a number of sectors where Greece and Israel have common goals, interests and increased prospects for cooperation, particularly in already growing trade ties and economic relations.

The Bar Ilan University professor, nevertheless, directly commented on the closely watched geopolitical implications stemming from the very public souring of relations between the Israeli and Turkish governments over the past few years, warning that Greek-Israeli ties -- as well as Turkish-Israeli ties -- should be independent of each other and not imply an “either/or” dilemma for any of the parties.

Bilateral trade ties have significantly increased between the countries over the years, nearing the half-billion-dollar mark, with roughly a half a million Israelis visiting Greece last year, whereas Israel now serves as Greece’s biggest export market in the Middle East.

Besides prospects for military and security cooperation, both countries’ recent concerns over illegal immigration, all-important energy sector cooperation, tourism, boosting trade and even employing Israeli technology in the desalinization field were cited.

The event - co-organised by the Athens-based Institute of International Economic Relations (IIER) and the research unit on Global Governance and the EU at the Universidad de Zaragoza -- featured two separate sessions, the first entitled “Political and Economic Relations of Greece with Israel” and the second “Greek - Israeli Relations in the Wider Context of the Eastern Mediterranean.”

The first session was moderated by ANA-MPA Managing Director Nikolas Voulelis and included Nachmani; Johnny Modiano, the vice-chairman of the Greek-Israel Chamber of Commerce and Technology as well as IIER Director Charalambos Tsardanidis.

Tsardanidis served as the moderator for the second session, with speakers including Stelios Stavridis, an ARAID senior research fellow at the Universidad de Zaragoza; Ekavi Athanassopoulou, a lecturer at the University of Athens, and Theodoros Tsakiris, head of the Observatory for European Energy Policy (EKEM).