Greek ambassador to Egypt Christodoulos Lazaris is ending his mission to Egypt after serving a six-year term.
Lazaris has contributed greatly to the development of Greek entrepreneurship and commercial bilateral relations between the two countries and worked vigorously to achieve the historic tripartite summits between Greece, Egypt, and Cyprus.
He also worked closely with the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria and All Africa and with the Greek communities of both Alexandria and Cairo.
On this occasion, the Greek Community Club and the Greek Community of Alexandria hosted a farewell cocktail and dinner in honour of the ambassador, where the president of the Greek Community of Alexandria, John Papadopoulos, as the host of the event honoured the ambassador with the commemorative silver plate of the Greek Community of Alexandria.
The event was attended by significant figures, including the pope and patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa, his Beatitude Theodoros II, the consuls of Russia, France, and Sudan, representatives of the Consulate of Palestine, representatives of the Bibliotheca Alexandria, and the Alexandria Opera House, and the presidents and representatives of the Greek associations of Alexandria and Cairo.
To learn more about the bilateral relations between Egypt and Greece during his mission to Egypt, Daily News Egypt sat down with the ambassador. What is your opinion about this event taking place here in Alexandria?
Greece has a very strong presence in Alexandria and the Greek community here is very active. Also, we have strong ties with the Bibliotheca Alexandria.
As your time in Egypt is coming to an end, how would you explain Egyptian-Greek relations?
Greece is usually the voice of Egypt in the European Union. To some extent we have managed to fix the false image that exists about Egypt and have prevented the spread of such an image.
Both countries are very close economically and politically. We cooperate together in security issues. Egypt and Greece share the same view on fighting terrorism and have similar models when it comes to foreign and defence policies.
We have cooperated with Egypt on a number of issues related to the crises in Syria and Libya, immigration, and refugees.
Keep in mind that both countries are close geographically, making Alexandria a very important centre. This fact encourages and enhances our cooperation together, especially in regards to naval activities. For example, in the recent EgyptAir aeroplane crash, the first ships to arrive were Greek. They were sailing back to Greece from the Alexandria port, so, when needed, they sailed back to Egypt.
In general, we are talking about a trilateral cooperation as it involves not only Egypt and Greece, but also Cyprus.
How about the economic ties between Egypt and Greece?
Greece is the fourth largest European investor in Egypt. We have around 208 companies in Egypt.
Our sixth trading partner worldwide is Egypt, and I think that we are going to improve this position this year.
We are also among the first 10 trading partners for Egypt.
Can you tell us about cultural bilateral relations?
Over the past six years, we have been concentrating more on business relations. Yet, Greece maintains a strong cultural presence in Egypt, especially in Alexandria.
Greek cultural centres are very active in Egypt, particularly the Greek language schools, which have a very high enrolment.
The Greek Community of Alexandria is one of the major cultural institutions in the city.
We are keen to have at least one cultural event per month in Egypt. But, of course, there are usually more.
After ending your duty as the Greek ambassador to Egypt, what is the next country you will serve in?
I will serve in Spain, which I consider a soft landing. I wished to serve more time in Egypt, but I have already been here for six years.