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Greece eyes closer ties with China: Ambassador

By Xian Jiangnan (People's Daily Online)    00:09, May 22, 2020

“The recent crisis has shown that Greece and China can work in the future even closer together,” said Greek Ambassador to China Georgios Iliopoulos, voicing confidence in cooperation opportunities for both countries in the post-pandemic era.

In a written interview with People’s Daily Online ahead of China’s most important annual political meetings, Iliopoulos said China’s highly anticipated “Two Sessions” this year are expected to signal the gradual return to normality in China and a resumption of its trade and investment relations with the rest of the world.

Valuable suggestions may be drawn for all countries regarding ways to spur growth and mitigate the effects of this global economic crisis, said the ambassador.

“We all expect coordinated policies, enabling new global synergies and partnerships with China in the economic field, in trade, services and investment, based on level playing field rules, reciprocity, market openness and mutually beneficial development,” he said.

This year is a decisive year for China to complete the building of a moderately prosperous society in all respects and to end extreme poverty. The concept of moderately prosperous society, Iliopoulos noted, brings to the fore two important notions: promoting inclusiveness and addressing inequality.

“In this respect, China has been widely recognized for lifting almost 800 million people out of poverty, a most remarkable achievement!” He said.

Greek Ambassador to China Georgios Iliopoulos

Noting that the key elements of the “moderately prosperous society” are also shared by Western countries in the sense that wealth and growth must benefit all people, the ambassador called on the international community to “work jointly to achieve them, on the basis of equality and reciprocity, based on common rules and solutions to major challenges faced by all”.

Faced with the COVID-19 crisis, Iliopoulos recalled the close and effective collaboration between Greece and China, including sharing information and exchanging scientific data.

China quickly dispatched aid to Greece and was also Greece’s main provider of large quantities of medical and prevention equipment purchased by the government and donors from Greece, according to Iliopoulos.

The diplomat also highly recommended China’s protection of life of others and respect for the elders, a “civilizational” element shared also by Greece.

Both countries took extensive, draconian measures, at significant economic cost, but proved to be among the most effective in containing, so far, the coronavirus pandemic, he said.

”This sense of unity in front of danger, and the mobilization of our collective wisdom and spirit during challenging times, have greatly assisted both societies and countries to defend against the dangers of this crisis,” said the ambassador .

Noting that the word “crisis” in Chinese language comprises both “danger” and “opportunity”, the diplomat firmly believes that cooperation opportunities of the two countries will expand in the future.

According to the ambassador, various opportunities for solidifying, substantiating and optimizing the bilateral relations were demonstrated during the recent visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping to Greece last November, preceded by the visit of Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis to China’s 2nd International Import Expo in Shanghai (where Greece was a Country of Honor) at the beginning of the same month.

Greece has been successful in the country’s response to the coronavirus crisis. The ambassador noted that on May 20, the government announced that as of June 15, the doors of Greece will open again for tourists from abroad. The plan is to start with 19 countries that have seen significant progress in containing the new coronavirus, China being one of them!

“We are looking forward to welcoming larger numbers of quality visitors from China interested in culture, leisure, luxury services, health & wellness, sports and gastronomy”, the ambassador said.

The two countries will enhance economic cooperation in areas such as trade, infrastructure, energy, real-estate, as well as in the primary and secondary sectors of the economy, notably agri-foods, given the quality agricultural products from Greece, home of the world famous Meditteranean diet, and manufacture and innovation, as envisaged in the updated bilateral Cooperation Plan on Key Areas (2020-2022). Iliopoulos said.

Chinese enterprises may identify numerous competitive advantages in areas such as manufacturing, food-processing, healthcare, life sciences & pharmaceuticals, medical equipment, real estate assets in the tourism sector, and in the field of filming and creative industries. Greece has a new investment-friendly environment and financing instruments for the co-funding of potential projects, he noted.

Next year, both countries will jointly organize the “2021 Year of Culture and Tourism”, which is of great symbolic significance for both peoples and countries as Greece will celebrate the Bicentennial of its National Revolution that led to the establishment of the Modern Greek State, one of the earliest Nation-States in Europe, and China will celebrate the centenary of the founding of the Chinese Communist Party that shaped the modern and contemporary history of the country, Iliopoulos noted.

The ambassador said Greece and its people, historically, during various global and regional crises - including the recent economic, refugee/migrant and coronavirus crises - has fully taken on its responsibility and effectively contributed, albeit at a high economic and social cost, to the cause of furthering peace, development, stability and safety in the world.

“The recent crisis has shown that Greece and China can work in the future even closer together, in more areas, redefining their relations in many fields, including economy, culture and tourism,” he added. 

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)
(Web editor: He Zhuoyan, Bianji)

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