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Kazakhstan, Greece seek to strengthen bilateral coop, expand trade

7 February 2018 08:26

ASTANA. KAZINFORM Co-Chairs of the Kazakh-Greek Intergovernmental Commission on Economic and Technological Cooperation, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan Roman Vassilenko and Alternate Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Hellenic Republic Georgios Katrougkalos, who arrived in Astana for a working visit, discussed relevant aspects of bilateral political and trade and economic cooperation today, Kazakh MFA reports.

The Greek delegation also included representatives of the business community.

The talks have confirmed there is an understanding between Astana and Athens in all spheres of bilateral cooperation. The sides identified promising areas for further joint work and considered projects for deepening economic and investment cooperation.

Special attention was paid to facilitating the European Union visa regime for the citizens of Kazakhstan. The sides unanimously agreed that simplifying visa procedures corresponds to their mutual interests of enhancing business, educational, cultural and tourist exchanges between the EU and Kazakhstan.

The sides also engaged in a detailed exchange of views on topical international issues: Kazakhstan's role as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, the Astana Process of talks on Syria, prospects of cooperation between the EU and the Eurasian Economic Union, and other matters.

During the visit, Vice Minister for Investments and Development of Kazakhstan Arystan Kabikenov and Georgios Katrougkalos took part in a Kazakh-Greek Business Forum that brought together some 100 entrepreneurs from the two countries. During the event, the Chamber of Commerce of Kazakhstan and the Hellenic Federation of Enterprises "SEV" signed a Cooperation Agreement.

In addition, Georgios Katrougkalos held meetings with Vice Minister of Agriculture Gulmira Isayeva and Governor of the Astana International Financial Center (AIFC) Kairat Kelimbetov.

During his stay in Astana, Georgios Katrougkalos visited the administrative center of Kazakhstan's Metropolitan District and the Assumption Cathedral. The distinguished guest from Greece was briefed on the history of its construction, which was supported by President Nursultan Nazarbayev. The Alternate Minister of Foreign Affairs of Greece praised Kazakhstan's achievements in building interethnic peace and interfaith harmony.

For reference: 1) In 2017, the volume of trade between Kazakhstan and Greece increased by 10.6%, compared to 2016 ($980.6 million: exports from Kazakhstan to Greece - $964 million, imports from Greece to Kazakhstan - $16.6 million). In 2016, that amount was $886 million (exports - $872.8 million, imports - $13.2 million).

Kazakhstan's exports to Greece include hydrocarbons, grain, salt, soil, stones, gypsum, cement, copper, copper products, etc.

Products from the chemical and metallurgical industries, plastics, fur and knitwear, footwear, machinery and equipment, electronic materials, bicycles, etc. are imported from Greece to Kazakhstan.

2) Last year was also marked by an increase in mutual contacts:

On 24-27 May 2017, Prosecutor General of the Supreme Court of Greece Xeni Dimitriou, visited Astana. As part of the visit, the Prosecutor General's Offices of Kazakhstan and Greece signed a Memorandum of Understanding;

On 21 July 2017, Minister of Economy and Development of Greece Dimitriou Papadimitriou took part in celebrations to mark the National Day of Greece within the framework of EXPO-2017;

On 27-30 August 2017, Deputy Minister of Culture and Sports of Greece
George Vassiliadis, visited Astana to sign a Declaration of Cooperation in sport and a modern Olympic Truce Declaration;

On 9-10 October 2017, in Athens, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan
Roman Vassilenko took part in the business conference "EU-Eurasia-China";

On 19-20 October 2017, Abai Tasbulatov, Co-chairman of the "Kazakh-Greek" interparliamentary friendship group, and Aikyn Konurov, a member of the friendship group, visited Greece.

3) Presently, about 10,000 ethnic Greeks live in Kazakhstan. At the same time, Greece is home for about 60,000 ethnic Greeks, former citizens of Kazakhstan, with whom close friendly ties are also maintained.

There is also an Association of Greek communities of Kazakhstan "Philia" (meaning "Friendship" in Greek).