Egypt and Greece
Monday، 09 November 2015 - 12:00 AM
Relations between the two countries go far back in time as a result of their co-existence within the same geo-strategic region, their common historical experience, and given the presence for many years in Egypt of a sizeable Greek community.
Today the two countries enjoy close cooperation at multi-lateral level in the context of international organizations and in the framework of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership. At the bilateral level and in accordance with an agreement signed in 1998, the two countries have institutionalised political consultations at the highest level on a six-monthly basis, and between Foreign Ministers once per year. Egypt is one of Greece's most important trade partners in the Arab world.
The number of Greek investment projects in Egypt has reached 104 projects, with issued capital of LE 1.6148 billion, and a Greek share of LE 1.2669 billion. Greek investment projects are mainly concentrated in a number of productive and service sectors, which include: the chemical industry - textile industry - building materials - food industry - business services and consultancy projects - transport and public services.
Egyptian investments in Greece are concentrated in the telecommunications sector. In February 2007, the Egyptian network operator Orascom Telecom purchased the Greek mobile phone operator TIM HELLAS in a deal worth 3.4 billion euro. It changed the company name to WIND.
In December 2007, Orascom, which owned 51% of the shares of the Greek company Tellas Telecom (one of the leading fixed-line phone and Internet operators in Greece), purchased all shares of the Greek company.
The volume of trade between the two countries during the first half of 2009 climbed to 261.3 million Euros compared to 216 million Euros during the same period of 2008, which represents an increase of 21%. The value of Egyptian exports has reached 161 million Euros, an increase of 1,25% compared to the same period of 2008. While the value of imports from Greece has amounted to 100,3 million Euros. In light of those figures, there is a trade surplus of 60.7 million Euros in favor of Egypt in the first half of 2009.
Prospects of enhancing economic cooperation:
The current level of trade and investment between the two countries indicate that economic relations, in general, could be upgraded to a new level that is consistent with the common interests and aspirations of the two countries. Moreover taking into account the prospects of benefitting from their membership in a number of regional economic groupings are great, as Egypt is a member of COMESA and the Agadir Convention, while Greece is a member of the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation and The South East European Cooperation Process. In economic terms, this has the potential of making Egypt a gateway for Greece to Africa and the Arab world, while making Greece a gateway for Egypt to South-Eastern Europe.
Moreover, both countries can maximize their cooperation in the framework of Euro-Mediterranean Partnership, especially after the entry into force of the Association Agreement between Egypt and the European Union in June 2004.
The EU-Egypt Association Agreement regulates commercial relations between Egypt and Greece. Other main treaties and agreements are as follows:
Agreement on Shipping and Maritime Transportation (1981)
Agreement on Economic and Technical Cooperation (1986)
Agreement for cooperation in the field of Social Insurance (1986)
Agreement on the Promotion and Protection of investments (1993)
Agreement on the establishment of the Egyptian-Greek Business Council (2002)
Agreement on Scientific and Technological Cooperation (2004)
Agreement on the Avoidance of Double Taxation (2004)
Memorandum of Understanding for cooperation between Diplomatic Academies (2004)
Memorandum of Understanding for cooperation in the field of tourism (2005)
Memorandum of Understanding for cooperation in the field of maritime transport (2005)
Memorandum of Understanding on mutual granting of citizenship to citizens of both countries (2005)
Memorandum of Understanding for cooperation in the field of new and renewable energy (2006).
Cultural Relations and Greek Community
The sizeable Greek community in Egypt (at its height the Greek population numbered 140,000) began to decline in the early 1950s (as a result of President Nasser's nationalization programme) and now a few thousand Greeks are all that remain in Egypt. The largest communities are those in Cairo and Alexandria, followed by the Greek populations of Ismailia, Port Said and Kafr El Zayiat. But there are still a large number of Greek associations and clubs, as well as schools and cultural centres.
These communities apart, a further major focus of Greek interest is the Patriarchate of Alexandria, whose activities extend across the entire African continent. The Patriarchate's relations with the Egyptian Coptic Church and the Egyptian state are excellent.