After staging the Olympic Games, Greece has the experience necessary to successfully meet the challenge of a world exposition, Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis said in a videotaped message at the presentation of Thessaloniki’s candidacy for staging World Expo 2008 yesterday. Macedonia-Thrace Minister Nikos Tsiartsionis, who made the presentation in the presence of other ministers and senior regional officials in Athens’s Zappeion Hall, said Thessaloniki’s bid is an opportunity to transform Macedonia into a crossroads for the whole of southeastern Europe. Thessaloniki’s bid, centered on the theme of «Mother Earth, Knowledge of the Earth, and Nutrition,» is competing with those of Italy’s Trieste and Spain’s Saragossa. Members of the Paris-based Bureau International des Expositions (BIE) will decide on the winner in December. «For the first time, matters of agriculture, nutrition, quality of life, protection of the Earth are urgently raised so as to be highlighted in an organized manner during EXPO 2008 so that specific solutions might be proposed,» said Tsiartsionis. «Bulgaria and Romania will be acceding to the EU as full members in 2008. This will inject a new impetus into the whole region and will mark an important opportunity for a new beginning in the development of co-operation schemes and the prospects of southeastern Europe. «Our objective is to create a climate that is favorable and positive in order to attract foreign investment to the broader region in all sectors related to our theme, including tourism, agriculture, the production of high-quality certified products, organic produce, food industry, research and technology.» Budget The Greek government has committed itself to covering the total cost for EXPO 2008 from the state budget; the sum involved is about 600 million euros and specific entries will be made in the 2005 budget, when preparation and infrastructure works on the EXPO site are to start along with procedures to attract participants. To this effect, the government has committed itself for the sum of 15 million euros to support the presence of countries that might not be able to afford to participate, yet have a lot to contribute to a world EXPO on the theme proposed by Thessaloniki. This sum is estimated to cover the expenses of about 45 participants. Thessaloniki Prefect Panayiotis Psomiadis said the bid was a «national cause» and that with the backing and personal interest of the prime minister, certain delays in the endeavor have been overcome. Deputy Foreign Minister Evripidis Stylianidis said the government ascribed great significance to promoting economic diplomacy. Life for All, a non-governmental organization, will be involved in the campaign for Thessaloniki’s bid for EXPO 2008 in the fields of awareness-raising and the mobilization of international bodies, agencies, organizations and citizens of the world with regard to the EXPO 2008 theme. The organizers say Life for All will continue its activities after July 2008 in the sectors of fighting poverty and hunger and promoting sustainable development models in the Third World and the food sector. Until October-November, the organization will be staging competitions, activities on the Internet and mobilizing schoolchildren and students in an effort to drum up support for Thessaloniki’s bid on an international scale.