Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis addresses a conference in Athens yesterday on how European Union programs can help finance innovative and growing small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Through the financial instruments of the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Program (CIP) a sizable sum of money has been made available to help SMEs. ‘Access to finance is a crucial issue for Greek SMEs. In times of recession, we see new opportunities and are obligated to back innovation and entrepreneurship,’ Bakoyannis told the conference that drew more than 500 participants. The EU financial instruments are operated by the European Investment Fund (EIF) in cooperation with national, regional and local financial institutions.