German Ambassador to Greece Ernst Reichel has hailed the “Greece 2.0” National Recovery and Resilience Plan and the European Green Deal as signaling a moment of “big opportunity” for boosting investments in the country.
“This is really a chance to create a moment of significant progress for the country and to overcome the investment gap, the lack of investments that exists here in Greece,” he told the Athens-Macedonian News Agency (ANA-MPA) in an interview at the 85th Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF), taking place in the northern port city.
“Foreign investors – and Germany, which is the number one foreign investor in Greece – will have a major role to play in that,” he said.
Reichel made special reference to the emphasis on Greece’s digital and green transitions, stressing that these are areas where the country is well placed to become a major success story.
“The framework conditions seem to be there, we can improve them further, the prime minister has made announcements to this direction, so I think this is a moment of opportunity,” he said.
He was particularly upbeat about Thessaloniki’s prospects,saying “it has a very well educated and young population so there is a lot one can do in digitalization, for instance.”
On developments in Afghanistan and concerns that they could trigger a fresh wave of migration towards Europe, Reichel said that Europe must use “all the means” at its disposal to “offer people who are in danger opportunities in neighboring countries and to offer humanitarian aid, possibly also within Afghanistan if we can, and thereby reduce the pressure that may come to our borders.”
“If we work together as Europeans, I believe that we can do quite a lot. But yes, we have to be realistic, even the best border control will not be able to avoid the arrival of migrants in the EU and it is important to show European solidarity when that starts,” he added.
On Turkey’s role, Reichel said that it is an “oversimplification to say that any future flows of migrants coming via Turkey is instrumentalization by Turkey.”
“My advice would be to resist the tendency to blame everything on Turkey here,” he told ANA-MPA.
Reichel, meanwhile, did not hide his concern about some of the negative stereotypes about Germany that continue to prevail in Greek society.
“I consider it my job to work against such stereotypes. But I do not think that this is a job only for the German side to work against it but also for the Greek side, for the opinion leaders here in Greece,” he said. “And since we are such close partners and also extremely close partners through the EU, I think that it is in the interests of everybody that we overcome the negativity which exists in public opinion.”