Speech

Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen's speech at the official luncheon in connection with the state visit by the Greek President Papoulias on 20 May 2009

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Dear Mr. President, Mrs. Papoulia, Your Excellencies, Dear Guests,

It's a great pleasure to welcome you Mr. President and you Mrs. Papoulia. Every year more than 350.000 Danes visiting Greece are met by the warm hospitality of the Greek people. Today, I will do my best to return some of that.

Greece and Denmark are close partners on the international scene. Though none of us are big countries in terms of economy or size, we are both very active and close partners in the European Union, in NATO and in the UN, where our countries were members of the Security Council in 2005-2006.

Both our countries have experienced the major changes in the international architecture after the cold war. We have even played a special role in the perhaps most significant single change of them all - the enlargement of the EU with 8 Central- and Eastern European Countries as well as Cyprus and Malta.

It was during the Danish EU presidency in 2002 that we managed to conclude the enlargement negotiations. And it was during the following Greek presidency that the accession treaty itself was signed at a beautiful ceremony in Athens in 2003.

As the past has required our co-operation, so will the future. Though Greece and Denmark in geographical terms are located in different corners of Europe, many of the challenges we face are similar and can only be dealt with, if we act together.

Let me mention the climate change and environment agenda which I know has a special place in your heart, Mr. President. Hopefully we will be able to reach a global climate agreement in Copenhagen in December this year. Let me express my gratitude for your personal engagement in this matter, which I know has also been in focus during your visit to Denmark.

The current economic crisis also requires a strong joint effort. Greece
and Denmark are open economies depending on a close interaction with other countries. We must not react with protectionism or isolation. This will only make the crisis even more difficult to tackle to the detriment of the ordinary Greek or Dane.

Denmark and Greece also join forces in the fight for democracy and against international terrorism. It is of the utmost importance that we maintain our solidarity and share both the burdens and risks in international peace operations.

Mr. President,

Danish children and youngsters are brought up with a clear and very good impression of Greece. They go with their parents or by themselves on vacation and study trips to the many beautiful, historic and cultural sites of your country. In school learning about the ancient Greece is an integrated part of the syllabus.

It is through the Greek mythology that we learn that the God Aiolos, presumably son of Poseidon, is the master of the winds. I will take the liberty to say, that I am sure it will be in the true spirit of the Greek mythology if we together – Greece and Denmark – in the future cooperate stronger in order to take advantage of the enormous wind powers that we are blessed with by Aiolos and use it for energy production. It would certainly be in the true spirit of our talks today and your visit to Denmark, Mr. President.

Greece has a place not only in the mind but also in the heart of many Danes. With this state visit to Denmark you, Mr. President and Mrs. Papoulia, have confirmed the excellent relations between Greece and Denmark.