- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 2, 2004

Greece is reaching out to reap the harvest of its Olympic success, with a campaign to attract traders and investors eager to reach countries located in its neighborhood.

Greek officials believe that their successful hosting of the 2004 Olympic Games proved the country could stage a major international event, despite its small size and the ever-present threat of global terrorism.

“We have security, stability and geography on our side to become a thriving base for those seeking to reach a broad market in our region,” Evripidis Stilyanides, deputy foreign minister for economic affairs, told The Washington Times in a recent interview.

He focused on Greece’s potential for becoming a staging area for investors seeking to broaden contacts with its neighbors in the Balkans and the Black Sea regions — states that came into being with the collapse of Soviet communism.

Success in this economic endeavor, Greece hopes, will help defray some of the staggering costs incurred in providing security for the Olympics.

As the first nation to host the Games since the terror attacks of September 11, Greece responded to its own imperative as well as outside pressure, spending an astronomical $1.2 billion for Olympic security.

That figure, a record, was four times as large as Australia spent hosting the Games in 2000.

Mr. Stilyanides was in New York for the annual session of the U.N. General Assembly, where, among other issues, Greece’s candidacy for a nonpermanent seat on the U.N. Security Council was promoted. The decision will be made on Oct. 15.

In the interview, he expressed optimism that Greece will be elected to the council.

Next year will be an important milestone for the Security Council, as it explores adding new permanent members to help carry out its U.N. Charter mandate to maintain world peace and security.

It will be the first attempt to change the fundamental structure of the Security Council since the world body was founded in 1945.

In New York, he also participated in discussions on four U.N. initiatives for development assistance.

The deputy foreign minister also promoted Thessaloniki, Greece’s second largest city, as a candidate for the International Expo 2008.

In Washington. Mr. Stilyanides conferred with Agency for International Development chief Andrew Natsios on development assistance that would spur growth in Greece and its neighbors. He also met with other key State and Commerce Department officials.

Greece has been a donor country since 2000 and spends 0.21 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) in international development assistance, a sum that is expected to grow in the next two years, with a final target of 0.7 percent of GDP.

For 2003 Greece’s GDP totaled $213.6 billion, according to CIA statistics.

Before coming to the United States, Mr. Stilyanides participated as a representative of the Greek parliament to the Convention on the Future of Europe.

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