Chinese President Hu Jintao's ongoing official visit to Greece reflects the excellent bilateral relations between the two countries, Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis said Monday in an interview with Xinhua.
She said the past four years have witnessed numerous high-level meetings between the two governments, which have added to the dynamics of the relations between Greece and China.
The Greek and Chinese peoples have mutual respect for the thousands of years of history and rich cultural heritages of both civilizations, which has also helped enhance their links.
"Our countries represent two great civilizations that developed concurrently and exerted very significant influence on eastern and western philosophical and scientific thought," said Bakoyannis.
Since Greece and China established diplomatic relations in 1972,and especially since they forged an all-around strategic partnership in 2006, the two countries have strengthened political dialogue on a wide range of bilateral and global issues, and their trade as well as cultural exchanges have also grown rapidly, she added.
She said current Greek-Chinese relations, strong as they are, could be further strengthened through enhanced cooperation in the fields of commercial shipping, tourism, culture and education, and people-to-people exchanges.
"We attach great importance to further developing this cooperation," said Bakoyannis.
The past four years have witnessed constant growth in trade between Greece and China, with volumes hopefully reaching 4 billion U.S. dollars this year, she said.
"We can do more. We would like to see more exports of Greek products to China...My view is that economic and maritime cooperation will be the most dynamic aspect of our economic relations in the future," she said.
Bakoyannis said Greece has particular strength in the merchant shipping sector as it has the busiest ports in southeast Europe and the eastern Mediterranean Sea.
Greek ship-owners are currently the biggest and most important customers of Chinese shipyards, and nearly 50 percent of merchandise traveling to and from China are transported by Greek merchant fleets, she went on to say.
She said the strategic partnership between Greece and China also includes their cooperation in international affairs, adding that her country supports increased dialogue between China and the European Union.
Greece adheres to the one-China policy and hopes to see a resolution of the Taiwan question in a peaceful manner, she said.
The minister expressed appreciation for China's support for Greece during its term as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council, as well as its advocacy of settling the Cyprus issue based on international law and UN Security Council resolutions.
She said Greece has a role to play in China's relations with Europe in general and the Balkans in particular due to its superb geographical position as a point of convergence for three continents.
"Greece is also the oldest member of the EU and NATO in southeastern Europe and plays an important role toward the consolidation of peace and stability in the region. With the excellent bilateral relations we have with China, we believe we can serve as its gateway to the southeastern European region."
Bakoyannis said she had visited China several times and was invited to the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympic Games.
"It was a happy occasion for me to go to Beijing this summer and witness the Olympics first hand. I was very impressed by its organization and would like to offer my heartfelt congratulations."
Hu arrived in Athens Monday for the last leg of his five-nation trip. Earlier, he had attended the G20 summit on financial markets and the world economy in Washington and paid state visits to Costa Rica, Cuba and Peru, where he also attended the Economic Leaders' Informal Meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum.