Greek – Egyptian relations

I. Diplomatic relations

Diplomatic relations between the two countries date back to August 1833, when the great benefactor, Mihail Tositsas, was appointed by the Greek government of the time as Greeces first Consul to Alexandria. In 1835 the Consulate in Alexandria was upgraded to a Consulate General; five years later the Cairo Consulate General was opened and, in 1900, a Greek Embassy was established. Greece also has a Port Consular Office in Port Said.

II. Framework of treaties

The framework of treaties between the two countries (LINK detailed list of agreements) covers virtually the entire scope, with the main treaties and agreements as follows:

Agreement on establishment of regular air lines (24.4.1950)
Education Agreement (4.9.1956)
Agreement on compensation (26.9.1966)
Agreement on cooperation in matters related to tourism (23.7.1968)
Agreement on shipping and sea transportation (18.4.1981)
Agreement on economic and technical cooperation (24.2.1986)
Agreement on the promotion and mutual protection of investments (16.7.1993)
Agreement on cooperation between the Ministry of Public Order and the Egyptian Ministry of Home Affairs on matters within their competence (28.2.1998)
Protocol on the founding and operation of Cultural Centres
Memorandum of cooperation between Diplomatic Academies (10.6.04)
Agreement on avoidance of double taxation (27.11.04) (not yet ratified)
Agreement on scientific and technological cooperation (27.11.04) (not yet ratified)

III. Political relations

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 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.

One subject of particular concern to both countries is the increasing movement of illegal migrants from Egypt to Greece over recent years. The authorities of both countries are working closely together to tackle this phenomenon, while negotiations are under way to prepare a repatriation treaty. 

Bilateral relations have recently been given a boost by reciprocal visits at the very highest level: the Greek Prime Minister Mr. K. Karamanlis recently paid a visit to Egypt (27-29 November 2005), where he discussed the major issues facing the region (the Middle East, Iraq, the Iranian nuclear programme, Cyprus) as well as bilateral relations, particularly in the economic field. The visit was preceded by that of the Deputy Foreign Minister, Mr. Valinakis, on 10-12/06/04.

Other contacts have included:
The official visit of the then President of the Republic, Mr. K. Stephanopoulos, in 1996
The official visit of the then Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. T. Pangalos, in 1998
Also, in his capacity as President of the Council of Ministers of the EU (first half of 2003) the then Greek Foreign Minister, Mr. G. Papandreou, visited Egypt on three occasions.
The visit of the Mayor of Athens Mrs. Dora Bakogiannis (18-22 February 2005)
The visit of the President of the Greek Parliament, Mrs. Anna Benakis-Psaroudas (13-15 March 2005)
The visit of the Minister of Tourism Development, Mr. Demetres Avramopoulos (30 May – 1 June 2005)

IV. Economic and Trade Relations

Source: PSE/ESYE (Hellenic Association of Exporters / National Statistical Service of Greece)

Main Greek exports to Egypt (2004): cotton, oil products, butane, petro-chemicals, plastics, copper piping, dyes and paints, aluminium products, tropical timber, aluminium sheets for the manufacture of cans, roof tiles, zinc, cement, canned peaches, printing paper, aloe oils and resins, bedspreads, tobacco, powdered milk, iron products.
Main Greek imports from Egypt (2004): oil, natural gas, raw aluminium, fossil coal, petroleum products, potatoes, fresh and frozen onions, fresh oranges, iron goods, cotton, bedspreads, sheet metal, ethane, ammonia, ammonium nitrate, steel goods, linen, polythene paste.

Greek investments

Greek investments in Egypt are estimated at over US$650m.
Greek investements showed a significant increase in 2004 after the acquisitions effected by TITAN, the expansion of the Zeritis plant (Pyramids Paper Mill) and the further investments in the field of oil extraction made by the Vardinogiannis Group.

In June 2005, the acquisition of the Egyprian Commercial Bank by the Bank of Piraeus was completed. The Board of the National Bank announced an increase of the shareholder capital of its branch in Cairo from US$15m to approximately US$52m.
“Intralot Egypt”, a subsidiary of INTRACOM, has signed an agreement with the Egyptian Postal Service to create and manage a modern national gaming / lottery system in Egypt. The initial investment will reach 10m euros, while the project will be implemented by a new joint venture, in which “Intralot Egypt” will participate by 85% and the Egyptian Postal Service by 15%. Works are expected to start in the first quarter of 2006.
The major investment sectors are as follows: foodstuffs (Edita/Chipita), irrigation systems (Eurodrip), paints (Er-Lac), vehicle radiators (Olympus Rad Egypt), construction materials, chartering (Vardinoyannis Group), construction projects (Latsis Group, Archirodon Group) and the manufacturing of moulds for shoe soles. In the area of joint ventures there is Greek involvement in the paper processing and cement sectors (Zeritis Group and Titan, respectively).

Greek Development Aid (DAC)
Greece has signed an agreement to participate in the establishement of the Bank for Economic & Commercial Co-operation in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA BANK) by SDR 66,774,000 in the equity capital. The Bank will be headquartered in Cairo but for the time being the establishment process has been delayed due to overall delays in the peace process in the wider region.

Greek development aid to Egypt on the bilateral level amounted to 8,485,767 euros over the period 1997-2004. The main areas of funding are culture, health care, education, and small and medium-sized undertakings. Greece is one of the major donors supporting the Biblioteca Alexandrina, having supplied substantial funds for equipment and the overall enrichment of the library. Actions to boost small and medium-sized undertakings include vocational training and retraining of private sector employees.

In terms of planned Greek aid to the Middle East for the period 2003-2006, Egypt is a priority country.

Tourist relations
Around 60,000 Greek tourists visited Egypt in 2003. On 14 September 2004 a memorandum of cooperation was signed by the tourist organizations of Greece, Cyprus and Egypt, which envisages greater cooperation in the areas of tourism promotion, education and investment.

V. Cultural relations

In 1956 a bilateral Education Agreement was signed, with an Executive Programme which is renewed every third year. Among other things it covers scholarships for postgraduate studies for both Greeks and Egyptians, scientific visits by professors, collaboration in the educational and academic fields and cooperation with the Alexandria Library.

In 2002 a bilateral protocol was signed on the founding and operation of cultural centres, which recognized the work of the Greek Cultural Centre in Alexandria and its Egyptian counterpart in Athens, as well as the founding of a Greek Cultural Centre in Cairo.

Among the most important cultural events staged in Egypt by Greece are the Kavafeia programme, staged every second year, and the presentation of the International Kavafi Awards.

The main focus of cultural activity organized by the Greek Embassy in Cairo in 2004 concerned the promotion of the Athens Olympic Games. In collaboration with the Cairo Greek Cultural Centre, which was officially opened in September 2003, the Embassy published and circulated a history of the Games in Arabic: The history and development of the Olympic Games, by Professor Mochi Metawe. Major events were also staged in Cairo to honour the Egyptian athletes participating in the Games; the passing of the Olympic torch through Cairo was also a great success.

A number of other major cultural events were organized in 2004: concerts by the Ag. Georgiou Karytsi and Amphion choirs, a concert by Demis Roussos, a performance by the Paramythias traditional ensemble and a concert by the Sweet Greque group with G. Zographou and Chris Jarrett, as well as a performance of the comedy Gynaikeia Eirene, an exhibition of photographs by G. Rossidis, a presentation of the Benaki Museums Islamic Museum and the presentation of the Arabic translation of a Greek book for children.

From the very beginning Greece supported Alexandrias bid to be selected as the headquarters of the Euro-Mediterranean Foundation for the Dialogue between Cultures.

VI. The 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 Nassers nationalization programme) and now around 3,800 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. Relations with the Egyptian Coptic Church and the Egyptian state are excellent. Another important Greek presence is the Monastery of Saint Catherine, an Orthodox religious community founded in the 6th century and the main attraction for cultural and religious tourists visiting the Sinai peninsula.

VII. Details of Embassy Consulates General Port Consular Office

Cairo Embassy

18, Aisha Al Taymouriya, Garden City

el.: (00 20 2) 7950 443, 7955 915, 7951 074

Fax.: (00 20 2) 7963903


Ambassador: Mr. Panayiotis Vlasopoulos

Consulate General of Alexandria

63, Alexander the Great

Tel.: (00 20 3) 4878 455, 4878 454

Fax : (00 20 3) 4865896

Cairo Consulate General

14, Emad El Din, Down Town

Tel.: (00 20 2) 5753 833, 5741 085

Fax: (00 20 2) 5753 962

Port Said Port Consulate

25, Al Goumhouria

Tel.: (00 20 66) 222650

Fax: (00 20 66) 222614

Source: Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs

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