Con­fer­ence in Greece high­lights co­op­er­a­tion

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FRONT PAGE - By CHEN WEIHUA in Pi­raeus, Greece chen­wei­[email protected]­nadaily.com.cn

Chi­nese and Greek of­fi­cials, busi­ness lead­ers and schol­ars say the suc­cess story of co­op­er­a­tion be­tween the two coun­tries and the re­cent ex­change of high-level vis­its by their lead­ers will take bi­lat­eral re­la­tions to a new height.

The Con­fer­ence on Greece-China Re­la­tions and the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive held in Pi­raeus on Fri­day gath­ered se­nior of­fi­cials, busi­ness ex­ec­u­tives, aca­demics and schol­ars from the two coun­tries. It hap­pened two days be­fore Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping pays a state visit to Greece from Sun­day to Tues­day at the in­vi­ta­tion of Greek Pres­i­dent Proko­pios Pavlopou­los.

Greek Prime Minister Kyr­i­akos Mit­so­takis just re­turned from a trip to China, where he led a 200strong gov­ern­ment and busi­ness del­e­ga­tion to the sec­ond China In­ter­na­tional Im­port Expo in Shang­hai and met Xi.

China’s Am­bas­sador to Greece Zhang Qiyue, who went back to China re­cently to fa­cil­i­tate the visit of Mit­so­takis’ del­e­ga­tion, ap­plauded the high-level vis­its.

“Af­ter these two im­por­tant vis­its, our re­la­tion­ship, the Greek-Chi­nese re­la­tion­ship and friend­ship, are en­ter­ing a new era. … We are open­ing a new chap­ter,” she told the con­fer­ence.

“We will have much more in­ter­ac­tion. The com­pre­hen­sive and strate­gic part­ner­ship will re­ally in­ten­sify. The depth and width of this re­la­tion­ship will de­velop very much.”

“Here in Greece every­body is very ex­cited about the visit (by Xi) and we ex­pect a lot of re­sults,” said Panos Laskaridis, pres­i­dent of the Aika­terini Laskaridis Foun­da­tion, which pro­motes Greek cul­ture.

Greek Minister of De­vel­op­ment and In­vest­ment Ado­nis Ge­or­giadis said there was a political strug­gle when China Ocean Ship­ping Com­pany in­vested in the Pi­raeus port 10 years ago.

“Af­ter 10 years, every­body can say that this is an im­por­tant in­vest­ment for the coun­try. It helps Pi­raeus to ac­cel­er­ate in trade and pro­duc­tiv­ity and to make it one of the big­gest ports in the Euro­pean

Union and this planet,” he said.

“It helps both China and Greece in their eco­nomic re­la­tion­ship and the Euro­pean Union as a whole, so it was a very big ex­am­ple of suc­cess,” said Ge­or­giadis, who is also vice-pres­i­dent of the New Democ­racy party, which won the coun­try’s gen­eral elec­tion in July.

The Port of Pi­raeus has soared from 93rd to 32nd in world port ca­pac­ity rank­ing, with its han­dling of con­tain­ers reach­ing 4.9 mil­lion twenty-foot equiv­a­lent units, a stan­dard size con­tainer, in 2018.

Greek Al­ter­nate Minister of For­eign Af­fairs Mil­tiadis Varvit­si­o­tis, a for­mer minister of ship­ping, mar­itime af­fairs and the Aegean, called it “def­i­nitely a suc­cess story among the two coun­tries’ co­op­er­a­tion”.

He also de­scribed Greece’s par­tic­i­pa­tion this year in China’s 16+1 group­ing with Cen­tral and Eastern Euro­pean coun­tries as “very im­por­tant”, and said Greece wants to pro­mote and ad­vance the co­op­er­a­tion.

Greece was the first coun­try among de­vel­oped Euro­pean coun­tries to join the BRI when it signed a me­moran­dum of un­der­stand­ing in Au­gust 2018.

Xie Fuzhan, pres­i­dent of the Chi­nese Academy of So­cial Sciences, said the BRI is al­ready in a new era of high-qual­ity de­vel­op­ment, its prin­ci­ples widely rec­og­nized, its part­ner­ship greatly ex­panded, its key ar­eas making headway and its co­op­er­a­tion mech­a­nism fur­ther im­proved.

“The fast chang­ing in­ter­na­tional sit­u­a­tion and the rise of pop­ulism, racism, uni­lat­er­al­ism and pro­tec­tion­ism has posed a big challenge to the high-qual­ity of de­vel­op­ment of the BRI and the com­mu­nity of a shared des­tiny for mankind,” Xie said.

“China and Greece, as two na­tions with an­cient civ­i­liza­tions, have shown re­spon­si­bil­ity and wis­dom in tack­ling global is­sues by pro­mot­ing the ex­changes of dif­fer­ent civ­i­liza­tions and deep­ened, mu­tu­ally ben­e­fi­cial co­op­er­a­tion among na­tions,” he said.

“I am con­fi­dent that if coun­tries and re­gions in­volved in the BRI find syn­ergy in de­vel­op­ment goals, tap their re­spec­tive ad­van­tages and give full play to their co­op­er­a­tion potential, it will pro­pel the BRI into a high-qual­ity de­vel­op­ment path to de­liver ben­e­fits for their peo­ple,” said Zhou Shuchun, pub­lisher and ed­i­tor-in-chief of China Daily.

The meet­ing was or­ga­nized by the Chi­nese Academy of So­cial Sciences, Aika­terini Laskaridis Foun­da­tion and China Daily.

KUANG LINHUA / CHINA DAILY

The Con­fer­ence on Greece-China Re­la­tions and the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive is held in Pi­raeus, Greece, on Fri­day.

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