ECONOMY

Ministers call for closer ties with neighbors

Tourism Minister Fanni Palli-Petralia yesterday argued for Greece’s common action and initiatives with Bulgaria and Romania in tourism in the context of the latter two countries’ entry into the European Union. Speaking at The Economist’s conference in Athens yesterday, Palli-Petralia said initial contacts have already been made on issues concerning regional investments in various forms of tourism. She said cooperation will focus on creating new infrastructure, on showing how Greece has gained experience from the Olympic Games and the influx of EU resources, on promoting «good practices» across the whole specter of tourism services, on encouraging modernization efforts, and on overcoming red tape in the promotion of regional investments in tourism. Speaking at the same venue, Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas said he was in favor of the creation of a single economic area in Southeastern Europe to encourage the further enlargement of and incorporation of Greece’s Balkan neighbors in the EU. The basic aim of the proposed scheme would be a free trade zone to substitute for the complex bilateral agreements and provide significant commitments according to European standards. Greek invested capital in Bulgaria and Romania totals 5 billion euros, while the combined bilateral trade reached 2.8 billion euros last year.