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TOURISM > Greece will back Turkey’s EU visa-free travel bid

Sadi Özdemir ATHENS – Hürriyet

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Greek Tourism Minister Olga Kefalogianni (R) tells TOBB President Rifat Hisarcıklıoğlu (L) that her country will support Turks’ right of free movement in the EU.

Greek Tourism Minister Olga Kefalogianni (R) tells TOBB President Rifat Hisarcıklıoğlu (L) that her country will support Turks’ right of free movement in the EU.

Greece will back Turkey’s bid for visa-free travel across the European Union countries, because tourists from the neighboring country support Greece’s economy, Greek Tourism Minister Olga Kefalogianni has said.

“We will support the Turks’ right of free movement in the European Union,” Kefalogianni told Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey (TOBB) President Rifat Hisarcıklıoğlu, during recent a Turkish mission to Athens.

Procedures for Turks to travel to four Greek islands have already been eased, and visas are no longer required from Turks with green passports, Kefalogianni said, adding that the number of Turkish tourists to Greece had increased 180 percent in a very short period of time.

“This brought about a revival for our economy. Currently we are preparing a report on the subject, and will present it to Brussels in October,” Kefalogianni said.

During his visit to Athens at the invitation of Union of Greek Chambers Chairman Constantine Michalos, Hisarcıklıoğlu shared Turkey’s experience of economic crisis with members of Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Economy Minister Kostis Hatzidakis, along with Kefalogianni. Istanbul Chamber of Commerce (İTO) President Murat Yalçıntaş and former Central Bank head Süreyya Serdengeçti accompanied Hisarcıklıoğlu on his visit.

When Hisarcıklıoğlu suggested Turkey and Greece should create mutual destinations and markets them in China and India jointly, Kefalogianni said “Soon we will meet with Turkey’s tourism minister to talk about these issues. We do not want political problems to affect Turkey’s full EU membership process negatively,”

Special industrial zone

“We believe that in order to overcome this crisis, determination is important; we should be open to reforms, and the government should act together with the business world,” Hatzidakis said. “Hisarcıklıoğlu has invited us to a regional cooperation meeting to be held in the Marmara province of Çanakkale.”

Hatzidakis also said Greece wants to set up a “special industrial zone” near Turkey with the support of the EU. “Such a project could become a center for joint investments.”

Hisarcıklıoğlu said he had also met with Michalos two weeks earlier at the International İzmir Fair. “Look how close we are to each other. We only met 15 days ago, and the president has invited me. This time came to Athens to explain how Turkey overcame its biggest economic crisis in 2001.”

Hisarcıklıoğlu’s speech included important tips for Greece in this time of economic crisis, Michalos said. “We have both experienced crises that were very similar in many ways. The things experienced during and after the 2001 crisis can inspire new ideas. We also do not want state interference in the economy; we demand less bureaucracy and the implementation of a new and simpler system that supports competition.”

September/20/2012

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