10 September, 2005
Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis inaugurated the 70th Thessaloniki International Trade Fair (TIF) on Friday night, placing emphasis on the development of northern Greece during his address at the inauguration ceremony. Outlining the government's intentions, Karamanlis said it is forging ahead along the path of changes and reforms. He added that day by day it is creating the conditions necessary to achieve success and that the foundations are being laid to enable Thessaloniki, Macedonia and Thrace to gain the growth and prosperity they are entitled to.
The Prime Mminister further said that the foundations are being laid to achieve the citizens' common demand for a better life for all Greeks and that this is the government's target and vision. He also stressed at this point, referring to the country's development, that "there are not two Greeces."
"A 'Strategic Plan for the Development of Northern Greece' is being prepared (and will be ready before the end of the year). It is a plan of prospects for the three regions, technology, innovation and competitiveness, which it defines as the pylons of their prospects for development. It is aimed at promoting and utilizing their comparative advantages and paves the way for a competitive regional economy having internal cohesion and an extrovert orientation," he said.
Karamanlis said the government is aiming at turning Thessalonica into a "Regional Convention and Exhibition Centre", adding that HELEXPO's strategy is already orientated towards this goal.
"Thessaloniki, Macedonia and Thrace are acquiring increasing geopolitical importance and a new momentum of development. What is even more optimistic is the prospect being shaped for northern Greece by the next European enlargement, when Greece will also be joined to the European Union geographically. Macedonia and Thrace can develop from border and distant regions of Greece into a geopolitical and economic centre for the wider region," he further said.
The Prime Minister stressed that the strategy to achieve the vision of a modern Greece is being implemented with the goal of "peace-cooperation-development", saying that "we are cultivating relations of bilateral and multilateral cooperation with all countries in our region. We are working with the aim of having our wider region becoming a European neighborhood of peace, development and prosperity for all."
Karamanlis placed particular attention to international cooperation which is being developed in the crucial sector of energy.
"We signed a few months ago (in Sofia) a political agreement with the governments of Russia and Bulgaria for the construction of the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline. My Turkish counter-part and I have inaugurated, at the Kipi Bridge at Evros, the beginning of works for the construction of the Greek-Turkish natural gas pipeline. The development minister and his Italian counterpart have signed a protocol for the construction of an undersea pipeline which shall convey natural gas from Greece to Italy and from there to the heart of Europe," he said.
Focusing on communication, the prime minister went on to say that railway links between Thessaloniki, Sofia and Istanbul have been upgraded and the time required for these trips has been reduced considerably and the creation of an International Trade Centre to be linked to the city's port and the railway network has already been scheduled.
"The future is challenging us and we are determined to win. A great deal has yet to be done, of course. One thing, however, is more than certain: we Greeks play a leading role when we join our forces, when we utilize our culture and when we function as 'citizens of the world'," the prime minister concluded.
Source: Athens News Agency