Astana, Athens aim to maximize trade and economic cooperation

Trade and transport development discussions between Europe and Asia took place Oct. 9-10 in Athens at the EU (European Union)-Eurasia-China Business summit “Building Bridges from East to West” organised by “The Economist” and the Greek Eurasian Business Council. The event, the first of its kind, gathered more than 500 representatives of key states and transnational and logistics companies dealing with developing the commercial flow of goods and services between Europe and China.

Speaking at the opening panel session, Deputy Foreign Minister Roman Vassilenko noted due to its geographical position, Kazakhstan is crucial for the success of the 21st century Silk Road and therefore was called “the buckle” by foreign experts for fastening the components of the Belt and Road Initiative.

He expressed hope that international transport and logistics companies would carefully consider cooperating with Kazakhstan and its national companies, including joint construction of logistics terminals. The presentation about Kazakh transit opportunities attracted considerable interest and was widely discussed during B2B meetings involving representatives of more than 100 companies.

Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos noted the enormous potential for developing European relations with Eurasia and China, as well as the need to support “regional integration schemes in the wider Eurasian region, which should contribute to peace, growth and prosperity of the people.”

Vassilenko also met with Greek Minister of Tourism Elena Kountoura, Alternate Foreign Minister and Kazakh-Greek intergovernmental commission for economic and technological cooperation co-chair Georgios Katrougalos, deputy foreign minister for Greek diaspora abroad Terence Quick, inter-parliamentary friendship group co-chair and deputy Leonidas Grigorakos and Greek Eurasian Business Council President Spyros Kouvelis.

Vassilenko noted a closer dialogue between Europe and Kazakhstan would be facilitated by simplifying the visa regime for Kazakh citizens. He stressed the country introduced a unilateral visa-free regime for citizens of Greece and other EU countries beginning Jan. 1, 2017. The step should help increase tourism cooperation and result in significant economic benefits, he said.