Germany, Greece sign agreement to boost investment

By MENELAOS HADJICOSTIS | October 7, 2011 | 9:35 AM EDT

Greek Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos, left, shakes hands with Germany's economy minister Philipp Roesler before their meeting at the parliament in Athens, Friday, Oct. 7, 2011. Roesler backed calls to get German companies to invest in Greece to get the debt-drowned country's economy growing again. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

Vouliagmeni, Greece (AP) — Germany and Greece signed an agreement on Friday aimed at boosting investment in the debt-drowned country and getting its economy growing again .

German Economy Minister Philipp Roesler and Greek Development Minister Michalis Chrisohoidis said the agreement was part of a strategy to help Greece deal with its crisis by helping its real economy rebound.

"We believe that Greece can become a very important investment destination," said Roesler, who is on a two-day visit to Greece with a delegation of dozens of German businessmen. "We're sending out the message that we can implement those things that we have decided on."

Roesler said deals worth euro2.5 billion ($3.36 billion) have already been made creating 50 new jobs in Greece, adding that there was additional German interest in investing in major infrastructure projects in the country worth euro1.5 billion.

The German official said the investment agreement clears administrative hurdles aimed to impart a "sense of security" to businessmen seeking to invest in the country. He said the German Development Bank is ready to lend its expertise for the creation of a similar development bank in Greece to support small and mid-size businesses.

Germany would also help Greece absorb European Union support funds geared towards boosting the Greek economy's competiveness.

Roesler said he would convey the message to other EU partners that Greece offers good investment opportunities and that an investment in Greece would translate into an investment in Europe.

Greece's economy is projected to shrink by 5.5 percent this year as the country struggles to meet austerity targets set as a condition for it to continue receiving funds from vital bailout loans that are preventing it from defaulting on its debts.