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Within the framework of an official visit to Greece, President of the Riigikogu Ene Ergma today met with President of the Hellenic Parliament Philippos Petsalnikos, Prime Minsiter George Papandreou and the Minister of Foreign Affairs Dimitris Droutsas. Their conversations touched upon the situation on the international arena, the situation in the region and cooperation in various international organisations, including in the European Union; bilateral relations were also discussed.

At the meeting, Ergma stressed the need for a more conservative financial policy and compliance with the rules of the euro zone. Among other things, the leader of the Hellenic Parliament Petsalnikos spoke about the experience how, in May, the parliament had succeeded in approving legislative amendments that had been necessary for stabilisation of the economic and financial situation in the state.

The leader of the Greek government Papandreou introduced the crisis measures of the government. Energy security and wider use of renewable energy was also discussed. Ergma gave an overview of the activities of the Estonian government and the Riigikogu in the situation of economic crisis during the last year and a half.

When speaking about economic relations, everybody admitted that in connection with the global economic crisis the volume of mutual trade has decreased. Greater attention to innovation and education was considered to be the guarantee of success. The Greek side recognised Estonian solutions (I-voting) and they saw a particular potential in cooperation in IT-sphere.

Mutual stimulation of tourism was also spoken about. The number of Greek tourists coming to Estonia has been increasing year by year. The number of Estonian tourists visiting Greece has also increased. Regarding the educational and cultural cooperation, it was noted that every year about a dozen students have arrived to Greece within the framework of Erasmus programme. At present, Estonian students are studying in Athens, Patras, Thessaloniki and Crete. The University of Athens has cooperation protocols with both the University of Tartu and Tallinn University. Over the years, the Greek government has issued scholarships to Estonian students for studying Greek language, culture and history. In recent years, one of the most active spheres of cooperation has been the sphere of culture. In 2009, four concert projects with eight concerts were organised by the Estonian Embassy. For 2010, exhibitions are planned and musicians from Estonia took part in the Jazz Festival and organ festival in Athens

The President of the Riigikogu, who is accompanied by Members of the Parliament Maret Maripuu and Kalle Laanet on the visit, also met with the chairpersons of committees of the Hellenic Parliament today. Tomorrow they are going to visit Athens Academy and the Benaki Museum.

The Riigikogu Press Service

8 June 2010