• Premier Li visits the Acropolis in Athens with Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras • Inspects Piraeus Port • Speaks at the China-Greece Maritime Cooperation Forum • Meets and dines with Greek President Karolos Papoulias • Visits the National Archaeological Museum • Leaves Athens for Crete, the biggest Greek island cooperation on ecological protection, resource exploitation and marine surveys.
Samaras said that since his visit, China and Greece have progressed on infrastructure cooperation and Li’s visit will accelerate this process.
“We began a closer working relationship last year, and it seems that we are advancing on projects mutually beneficial to both of us and beneficial for both China and the European Union as a whole.”
Samaras said Greece is best positioned to be the “gateway” to Europe for international trade with the Far East and Middle East, but this requires investment in a number of infrastructure areas, including major ports, highways and railways.
He said Greece has seen a “breakthrough” in the port of Piraeus, where the pioneering investment by COSCO in 2009 has proved a big success.
For investors, he said a number of privatization schemes in Greece are candidates for the “next concrete steps”, including railway projects and airport hubs.
“We have already made a good start with Piraeus. Now there are plans to expand in many directions.”
Samaras said both countries have identified a number of areas of mutual interest and have an ongoing process for discussing specific investment plans and trade agreements.
“We are moving step by step, but we are making tangible progress and we are building a solid relationship with enormous prospects for both countries,” he said.
Samaras said shipbuilding is another area of mutual interest, along with the maritime industry in general, with 15 percent of global sea trade conducted by vessels under Greek ownership.
“And tourism, of course, is an area of cooperation that is already expanding, with a very high potential.”
He said Greece is the home of the “Mediterranean diet”, and a range of Greek agricultural products raw, processed and manufactured can be introduced to the Chinese market. These include extra virgin olive oil, feta cheese, “excellent” wines and various herbal products.
Samaras, who was born in 1951, will mark the second anniversary of his taking office on Friday, when he will be joined by Li.
Samaras said several countries had stood by Greece during the difficult times after the global financial crisis. “China was one of them. I cannot express how much we appreciate that and how grateful we are,” he said.
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