From culture to shipping via business and sport, the longstanding ties between two European Union countries are about to get stronger. The program «2 Nations, Athens 2008-London 2009,» a series of diverse events taking place in Athens and Thessaloniki this year, followed by more events scheduled to unfold in London next year, is a work in progress reinforcing the notion that countries have much to gain by exchanging and sharing. «It’s important to remind each other why we’re friends,» said Lord Digby Jones, Britain’s minister of state for trade and investment, during a press conference announcing the events last week. He added that these kinds of initiatives are also about «refreshing friendships.» At the press conference, Digby Jones was joined by his Greek counterpart, Development Minister Christos Folias. The two ministers subsequently attended and spoke at a luncheon serving as a curtain raiser for the upcoming «2 Nations» events. In the first leg of the «2 Nations» project, no fewer than 19 events are being planned to take place between this month and November. Supported by British Ambassador in Athens Simon Gass, the events include conferences, cultural and business events. On May 22, the Royal Engineers Band, aka the Sappers, will throw an appearance at the Jockeys Country Club in Tatoi, while a one-day conference on soccer in Greece will take place at the Athens Ledra Marriott hotel on May 26. A horse-riding grand prix is scheduled to be held at the Jockey’s Country Club on June 20, 21 and 22. In July, it’s time for culture and entertainment, with «Street-Art,» an art project curated by Alexandra Kollarou and a concert by Sir Elton John on July 15 – the latter event is currently in the final stages of organization. Rugby and cricket matches are also being organized for August. A social evening featuring innovative British cuisine will take place at the Semiramis Hotel in Kefalari on September 9. Also taking place in September is a golf tournament, an education exhibition on British MBA programs in Greece on September 18, a garden barbecue at the British ambassador’s residence on September 24, a real estate conference in collaboration with Red magazine at the Hotel Grande Bretagne on September 29 and 30, as well as a fashion project ranging from catwalk to exhibitions. A conference focusing on the maritime industry will take place on October 7, while a finance and business conference is scheduled for October 13. Also in October, a conference on hot topic energy, a lecture on the Byzantine Research Archive by Amalia Kakissis (October 15) as well as a closing gala dinner with to-be-confirmed special guest Ken Livingstone. Ending the events in style, a vintage car rally and exhibition has been scheduled for November 21 and 22. The «2 Nations» idea – and organization – belongs to the British-Hellenic Chamber of Commerce, the highly active institution established in 1945. The project’s platinum sponsors are VisitBritain (the official site of the British Tourist Authority) and Aegean Airlines.