Tuesday 1st of March saw the formal meeting between members of the British and Greek Parliaments which included members of the Conservative Party and New Democracy (ND) leadership. The event was held in Westminster by the Conservative Friends of Greece (CFG) group, that aims to connect both the U.K and Greek Parliaments, empower and represent the Hellenic Community in the UK in domestic activities and politics, and promote bilateral dialogue and cooperation.
Those which attended the event include:
-Stephanos Ioannou Chairman of the CFG group, and George Hadjipavlis, Deputy Chairman of CFG.
-Vice-President of ND, Shadow Defence Secretary and Member of Parliament for Athens B’ Adonis Georgiadis.
-Nikos Sofianos, Secretary General of the Athens Chamber of Commerce, President of the LSE Hellenic Alumni Association and member of the ND Political Committee.
-Maria Xitaki, member of the ND Political Committee.
-Alberto Costa MP for South Leicestershire, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary group for Greece, and Chairman of the Conservative Friends of Greece Parliamentary Group.
-Mark Field MP for Cities of London and Westminster, and International Affairs Chairman for the Conservative Party.
-Vasillis Vitanopoulos and May Lykourentzou representing the ND youth wing ONNED in the U.K.
British counterparts during the event raised the significant historical ties both Greece and the U.K enjoy, since the struggle of Greek Independence. They have since collaborated as EU allies, jointly fought two World Wars and maintain a common membership of NATO, which leads to a continuing military cooperation between both nations.
During the meeting a number of matters were discussed that included common bilateral projects, events, and also the relationship between the sister parties of New Democracy and the Conservative Party. Alberto Costa MP gave his remarks on the meeting stating “It was a pleasure to host our guests from Greece in Parliament, along with fellow MP Mark Field. Greece and the United Kingdom have enjoyed very strong and positive ties, and it is now more important than ever, that we work to strengthen the links and continue to work together. Conservative Friends of Greece have made an incredibly positive contribution to this already, and I look forward to ongoing engagement in the future.” Adonis Georgiadis also gave his remarks stating “We had today a very good discussion on the relationship both our nations will enjoy when the U.K. leaves the EU. Discussion of the status of Greeks in the U.K, business ties, and other matters was the beginning of a long period of dialogue.”
Discussions led to agreeing working together for the mutual benefit of businesses, that included the Greek shipping industry which has a significant presence in the U.K. as well as agricultural trade, and most significant tourism which year on year is increasing in activity in terms of visitor numbers for both the U.K and Greece. Part of the discussions brought about the current economic ties both the U.K and Greece enjoy. The United Kingdom is the 5th largest importer of Greek products, 3rd largest importer of Greek agricultural products and 2nd largest importer of Greek pharmaceuticals. Hence the need to maintain trade ties and increase business activity between both nations is essential, even after the U.K. exits the EU.