Game on events pave the way to the future
The Hellenic Republic is experiencing a widespread revival kick-started by the return of the Olympic Games, and has emerged to become a shining example of dynamic economic development and a source of stability and inspiration in Europe.

The 2004 Olympic Games will include some sporting events held at their original ancient venues

Something is happening in Greece. In fact, this something has been happening for a while. Quietly behind the scenes, the country has been reinventing itself - a process that has gone largely unnoticed by the world at large. In 2004, the country unveils this new version of itself, just in time for the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, when all the world’s eyes will be resting on Greece. It seems facetious to say that one of the oldest and greatest civilizations in the Western world has come of age, but that is precisely what has happened. 2004 marks the beginning of a New Greek Age.

The modern-day revival of the Hellenic Republic has taken many forms, from bringing the Olympic Games home this year, to modernization and liberalization of major industries for global competition, to assuming a strong and confident membership within the European Union (EU). Mr. George A. Papandreou, Minister of Foreign Affairs, states, “Greece is a country going through a process of change. We used to be the recipients of aid; today, we are among the major donors of humanitarian help and peacekeeping forces worldwide. At the same time, our economy is transforming from a traditional economy towards one much more involved in hi-tech, communications and information technology.”

The statistics speak for themselves: this nation of 11 million people enjoyed GDP growth of 4.2% in 2003, following a 3.8% increase in 2002, nearly twice that of larger, more affluent EU neighbors. Such strong growth has made Greece the EU’s greatest success story. A major economic achievement has been the privatization of the energy and telecommunications sectors. Since these two industries have been open to private investment, Greeks pay the lowest energy prices in the EU, and cell phone products and services account for 7% of GDP. Privatization continues to steam on along other fronts such as the Public Power Corporation and the Public Gas Corporation, the Hellenic Postal Services, and the Agricultural Bank of Greece.

Greece has also successfully concluded its third EU presidency and the nation’s strong leadership during its term has heightened its status within that institution and globally. This high standard of confident leadership is matched by the rising assertiveness of the nation as a whole. Greece has emerged as a shining example of modern dynamic economic development.

GREEK BUSINESSES HAVE BECOME THE TOP INVESTORS IN THE EUROPEAN UNION, CONSOLIDATING THE COUNTRY'S ROLE AS A REGIONAL LEADER

During Prime Minister Simitis’ administration Greece has played a pivotal role in the reconstruction of the Balkan economies and has followed a successful policy of rapprochement with Turkey that has resulted in greatly improved relations between the two nations. Greek businesses have become the top investors in the EU, consolidating the country’s role as regional leader. Greek Minister of Culture, Professor Evangelos Venizelos, says, “I believe that Greece has a very important role to play as the gateway to the Balkans due to its many dimensions. It occupies an important geopolitical position between the Orient and the West, being part of the Balkan Peninsula as well as part of the rest of Europe.”

Visitors to Greece can enjoy all the comforts of a modernized country that has undergone significant investment in infrastructure

As Greece prepares to capture the world’s attention in 2004, a year in which it will also hold general elections, the nation is poised to reap the benefits of all its hard work. Visitors to the country will enjoy not only the pleasure of unprecedented Olympic Games, but they will also enjoy all the comforts of a modernized country. Mayor of Athens, Ms. Dora Bakoyannis, says that the city is experiencing its most exciting period in more than 50 years. She comments, “I think that all Greeks wanted the Olympic Games to be held back where they started; it was a matter of national pride and a matter of sentiment. Indeed, we feel that they are our games, so a lot of effort and money has been put into preparing them.”

Greece’s success will not end with the Olympic Games, however, and many Greeks see the event as a mere stepping-stone on the way to the country’s future. The experts tend to agree. Economic growth is projected to continue by 4-5% annually over the next three years, and the country’s investment in infrastructure will continue to pave the way for growth and opportunity in the years to come. Minister of Public Order, Mr. Georgios Floridis, elaborates, “The Olympic Games will allow Greece to show the new face of the country to the world and there is definitely something unique in the fact that they are occurring in Greece. For me, however, the Olympic Games have been and still are an enormous step forward for modernizing the country.”

Mayor of Rhodes, Mr. George Giannopoulos, says that much of Greece’s future success will stem from its role as regional leader, and as such, the country has much to offer the American investor in terms of strategic alliances with Greek businesses. He explains, “The possibilities that the Balkan economies and the Southeastern Europe region offer are great. For the U.S. investor the Greek market is relatively small –only 11 million people–but if you look at it in terms of the whole region, and Greece being a leader within that region, then the market is over 100 million. Therefore, there is the possibility of creating a link between Greece and the U.S. in terms of creating partnerships, and also of U.S. companies using Greece as their headquarters for the whole region.”

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