Rhodes will host the Euro-Mediterranean Industry Conference in September 2006. The event’s preparation was the main point discussed during the visit of Finland’s Trade and Industry Minister Mauri Pekkarinen to Athens yesterday, and his meetings with Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas. The conference, to gather industry ministers from the EU’s 25 member states and 10 other Mediterranean countries, has been conceded by Finland, who will hold the bloc’s rotating presidency in the second half of 2006, to Greece after a proposal by Sioufas. «We discussed the details for the best possible staging of this major financial event for the whole region of the Mediterranean as well as for Europe,» said Sioufas. He added that Rhodes was chosen «for being in the eastern Mediterranean, so that we can present more broadly the care which Europe and the governments of Finland and Greece show.» The two ministers further discussed their countries’ general cooperation, their financial relations as well as European issues and policies about technology. Pekkarinen spoke with admiration about Greece, saying «your country has achieved very significant results. The growth rate for this year has been very high» and noting that only a handful of EU countries have enjoyed a steady growth between 3 and 4 percent in recent years. He also referred to Greek-Finnish trade, saying «there are many fields for possible cooperation. The trade balance, for instance, between our two countries is unequal. There are many new opportunities for our enterprises. With my counterpart we are trying to create ever more direct entrepreneurial contacts, which our governments are willing to assist. I believe we will have many such opportunities in the future,» said Pekkarinen.