The working visit of Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis to Doha comes at a time when relations between Qatar and Greece are enjoying a distinguished period of co-operation, with aspirations for further co-ordination and expansion of existing partnerships, especially in the areas of economy, investment, trade, transportation, energy, culture, education, tourism, sports, and other areas of interest to both countries.
This is the Greek prime minister's second visit to Qatar. He visited Doha on Aug 22, 2022, when he held an official talks session with His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani during which they discussed ways to develop co-operation, especially in the areas of economy and investment, in addition to exchanging views on the most prominent regional and international issues.
The two countries' embassies were opened in Athens and Doha in 2007. Since then, there has been an exchange of official visits at the highest levels between senior officials of the two countries. Former Greek president Karolos Papoulias visited Doha in 2006, while His Highness the Father Amir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani visited Athens in 2007.
Bilateral relations continued to develop with the signing of numerous agreements and memorandums of understanding in the areas of trade, media, air transport, military co-operation, tourism, culture, energy, investments, liquefied natural gas, and participation in projects in the two countries.
Since the convening of the first session of the Arab-Hellenic Economic Forum on Sept 14, 2006, the Qatar Businessmen Association has participated in the first edition in Athens under the slogan 'Historic Relations — New Horizons for Co-operation', in the context of promoting and developing co-operation relations between Greece and the Arab countries, and in celebration of the silver jubilee of the establishment of the Chamber of Commerce.
In 2008, a Qatari-Greek agreement was signed to avoid double taxation. The two countries also have an agreement for economic and technical co-operation, which was issued on March 15, 2007, and ratified by Qatar on September 15, 2009. Agreements and memorandum of understanding were also signed in May 2010 to amend some provisions of the air transport agreement, and to exchange news between the official agencies of the two countries, in addition to a memorandum of understanding in the field of tourism co-operation and the energy sector, in light of Qatar's openness to projects in the field of energy and its industries, and the contribution of Greek companies to Qatari construction works.
In the framework of strengthening co-operation between the two countries, Qatar participated in two editions of the EU-Arab World Summit in 2016 and 2017, which was held in Athens; to support partnership, strengthen co-operation in various fields, and enhance economic relations between the European Union and the Arab countries.
Economic and trade relations have witnessed development since the establishment of the Qatar-Greece Business Council in 2015, to be a platform for dialogue between business leaders and decision-makers in government agencies and bodies concerned with promoting bilateral relations between the two countries. The Qatari-Greek Business Meeting in the Construction and Building Sector was held in Doha in April 2019, attended by the Chairman of the Greece-Qatar Business Council Panagiotis Mihalos, and several Qatari businessmen, and representatives of 25 Greek companies specialising in construction.
First Vice-President of Qatar Chamber Mohamed bin Ahmed bin Twar al-Kuwari said during the meeting that the number of Greek companies operating in Qatar is estimated at 64 companies; including eight fully owned Greek companies, and 56 Greek companies with Qatari partnership. He noted that the Qatar Chamber supports all efforts that contribute to strengthening the partnership between Qatari companies and their counterparts in Greece in all economic and commercial sectors, which would benefit the economies of the two countries.
The developed relations between the two countries include an agreement between the governments of Qatar and Greece regarding visa exemption for holders of diplomatic, service, or special passports, issued on May 2, 2019, and ratified by Qatar on March 2, 2020. The most recent Qatari participation in the Arab-Hellenic Economic Forum was on Oct 27, 2022, through the Qatar Chamber.
In a statement, the Chamber said that trade between Qatar and Greece grew by 120% in 2021, reaching about QR897mn, compared to QR409mn in 2020, noting the convening of the second Gulf-Greek Business Forum within the forum's activities to discuss investment relations, available opportunities, and the experience of both parties in the food industries sector.
In January 2017, the former Greek defence minister, Panos Kammenos, made an official visit to Doha, accompanied by representatives of Greek defence industries, and held talks on defence co-operation between the two countries. Kammenos also made a new visit to Doha to participate in the Doha International Maritime Defence Exhibition and Conference (Dimdex).
In 2017, the former Greek minister of state for foreign affairs, George Katrougalos, met with HE the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Sultan bin Saad al-Muraikhi in Doha in May and in Athens in November. In May 2017, Greek Deputy Minister of Agricultural Development and Foodstuffs Vassilis Kokalis visited Doha and discussed with Qatari officials ways of bilateral co-operation in agriculture and food industries.
Greece, under the current Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, has regained its strength and achieved a growth rate of 8.3% in 2021 and 5.9% in 2022. Mitsotakis succeeded in easing the burden of taxes imposed by the European rescue plan following the aftermath of Covid-19, which deprived Athens of tourism revenues, one of its main economic pillars.
Government statistics show that Greece has attracted increasing investments in recent years, with foreign direct investment reaching its highest level in 20 years in 2021, while total fixed capital formation increased by 12.7% during the first three months of 2023.
The government says it is working on building a floating unit to convert liquefied natural gas into its natural state off the coastal city of Alexandroupoli, with plans to build other units nearby. It is keen for Qatari investments interested in the energy and liquefied natural gas sector, providing them with opportunities to participate in major infrastructure projects, data storage and transportation, digital economy, renewable energy, tourism, and real estate.
Greece, located in southeastern Europe, has a population of about 10.75mn people, according to the 2019 census, and occupies a strategic location at the crossroads between Europe, Asia, and Africa. It is located on the southern tip of the Balkan Peninsula and has the longest coastline in the Mediterranean basin and 11th in the world, and includes a large number of islands, 227 of which are inhabited. The capital, Athens, has a unique heritage and cultural value in Greece, reflecting the country's rich historical legacy with 18 sites in the city listed on the Unesco World Heritage List.
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