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Interview: Greece eager to continue cooperation with China in post-pandemic era, says minister

(Xinhua)    10:52, March 03, 2021

(Photo/CGTN)

ATHENS, March 3 (Xinhua) -- The Greek government is eager to continue cooperation with China in the post-pandemic era, as China has contributed significantly to Greece's economic recovery in recent years, Greek Minister of Development and Investments Adonis Georgiadis told Xinhua in a recent interview.

The COVID-19 pandemic plunged the Greek economy into recession. The country has just started to recover after a severe decade-long debt crisis that pushed it to the brink of bankruptcy. Priorities and timetables in the government's plans have changed, as has happened across the world.

As mass vaccinations have brought hope for an exit from the health crisis, Greece wants to return to the right track and resume its collaboration with China in many fields at full speed, the minister said.

"We are eager to continue our plans and our follow-up of investments here in Greece and find ways to leave behind all this pandemic crisis and continue our lives," Georgiadis said, ahead of the "two sessions" in Beijing.

China's annual "two sessions," a major political event that sees a gathering of the country's national lawmakers and political advisors, will open this week.

"Before the pandemic, our economic relationships were great and they were accelerating. Of course, during the pandemic crisis there was a slowdown," he said, noting that practical issues made talks and coordination difficult.

"I am totally sure that now, as we are exiting the pandemic, everything will continue as scheduled," the official stressed.

Georgiadis sees strong potential in bilateral cooperation in energy, tourism, ports and logistics in the coming months and years. In recent years, collaboration between Greece and China has achieved progress in such sectors, significantly benefiting the Greek economy.

China, "one of the most important foreign investors in our country," invested in Greece "in very difficult times of our economy," he said, adding that China is still looking to make major investments in Greece, which will bring a lot of Chinese banks to Greece to "help our recovery in a speedier way."

China's COSCO Shipping investment in Piraeus, Greece's largest port, which coincided with the Greek debt crisis starting from 2009, has been hailed as a landmark in bilateral ties and an example of win-win cooperation in the context of the Belt and Road Initiative.

With dramatic improvement in its image, Piraeus is turning into a key transit hub and logistics center for the growing trade between Asia and Europe, creating thousands of jobs and supporting the local economy.

In the energy sector, the State Grid Corporation of China purchased a 24-percent stake in Greece's power grid operator, ADMIE, in 2017.

In March last year, when China was facing the challenge of COVID-19 at home, medical supplies from China arrived in Athens' airport, and more Chinese aid was sent to Greece during 2020.

"China had experienced difficult times, as everybody had, but China tried to help us, like many other countries, especially in the first days of the pandemic," Georgiadis said, expressing confidence that humanity will move forward.

In terms of the global economic recovery from the COVID-19 crisis, he spoke in favor of closer cooperation across borders and warmly welcomed the Comprehensive Agreement on Investment between the European Union (EU) and China.

China and the EU jointly announced the completion of China-EU investment agreement negotiations at the end of last year.

"We support it and as a government, we have done what we could in order to be able to find the common ground with the EU and China in our future economic relationships," the minister said.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)
(Web editor: Meng Bin, Liang Jun)

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