President Park Geun-hye met with President Karolos Papoulias of the Hellenic Republic at Cheong Wa Dae today. President Papoulias is the first Greek President to visit Korea since the establishment of diplomatic ties between the two countries. During their summit that was held from 3:20 to 4:15 in the afternoon, the two heads of state had useful discussions on a wide range of issues. These included the latest developments surrounding the Korean Peninsula and in the European Union as well as ways to enhance substantive cooperation in various fields such as political affairs, trade and the economy, investment, infrastructure, information and telecommunications technology and national defense.
President Park noted that the visit by the President of Greece, one of the European countries that had sent troops to fight in the Korean War, was especially meaningful in the year marking the 60th anniversary of the Korean War Armistice. Welcoming him to Korea, President Park said the noble sacrifices of Greek soldiers during the Korean War would never be forgotten.
President Park stressed the fact that Greece had played a critical role in the development of Korea’s shipbuilding industry and that it is still the largest destination for Korea’s ship exports. She asked President Papoulias for his support and interest so that mutually beneficial cooperation between Korea, a leading shipbuilding power, and Greece, a global powerhouse in the shipping industry, would continue to deepen.
President Papoulias said that the robust friendship between the two nations had been forged in blood and that the sacrifices of young Greek soldiers had served as the foundation for mutual understanding and friendly cooperation. The Greek President went on to express the hope that Korea would provide support for Greece to overcome the current economic crisis and that Korean businesses would make increased investments, particularly in the shipbuilding sector where the two countries have actively worked together.
In regard to Greece's assumption of the presidency of the European Union starting in January 2014, President Papoulias said the focus would be placed on economic growth and employment. He also expressed the hope to work together with Korea in science and technology, including IT, and natural gas projects, for which Korean businesses are well known in Europe. The two Presidents concurred on the need to form a consultative body to discuss concrete ways for collaboration.
President Park noted that the Greek economy has recently taken a turn for the better and that the Korea-EU FTA would help boost trade and investments between Korea and all members of the European Union, including Greece. In this connection, President Park called on the visiting President to work for the early completion of the ratification procedure in Greece.
Taking note of the need to address difficulties Korean businesses face when entering Greece in regards to visas and taxes, President Park asked President Papoulias to take interest in helping Korean businesses to take part in his nation’s privatization of state-owned enterprises in the areas of airports, ports and railways and in building transport infrastructure, including subways.
In response, the Greek President said that Korean businesses’ interest and participation in the privatization and the construction of public infrastructure in Greece were of enormous significance. The President went on to say that he would personally take care of tackling difficulties facing Korean businesses.
On the topic of North Korea, President Park thanked Greece for its role in jointly introducing a resolution denouncing North Korea’s nuclear program at the last regular session of the International Atomic Energy Agency General Conference. She also expressed gratitude for Greece’s continued support in efforts to persuade North Korea to come forward as a responsible member of the international community.
In response, President Papoulias said that the Greek Government was observing the situation in Northeast Asia very closely and would continue to stand in partnership with Korea. He also said that he would support the position of the Korean Government at the European Council meetings, especially during 2014 while he is president.
The Greek President next extended an invitation to President Park to visit Greece. President Park agreed to visit at a mutually convenient time and proposed that arrangements be made through diplomatic channels.
After the summit, the two leaders looked on as Vice Minister of National Defense for the Republic of Korea Baek Seung-joo and Deputy Minister of National Defence for the Hellenic Republic Athanasios Davakis signed an agreement for the protection of classified military information.