Greece and China have opened a new era by transforming their relationship into an even more dynamic and mutually beneficial cultural and economic partnership, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis told Xinhua here in a recent written interview.
“The cornerstone of the relationship between our two countries can be summarized in two words: mutual respect,” the Greek leader said, adding that the two countries have enjoyed a harmonious and friendly relationship since the very beginning of the establishment of their diplomatic relations.
Greece, in the West, and China, in the East, share the distinct privilege of being heirs of ancient civilizations with significant global impact on human history, and this legacy provides a solid basis for building up bilateral cooperation, he explained.
Greece believes that the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) will help create the infrastructure required for the development of global trade, and Greece has a lot to contribute due to its geostrategic position as a natural bridge linking three continents, said Mitsotakis.
The Greek leader also mentioned China COSCO Shipping’s investment in the Port of Piraeus, which is widely considered as one of the most successful examples within the framework of BRI cooperation.
In 2016, COSCO Shipping acquired a majority stake in the then struggling Piraeus port. The Chinese company’s subsidiary has started managing the port’s container terminals since 2009, helping to promote the port’s container throughout increasing from 880,000 TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units) in 2010 to 4.9 million TEUs in 2018, ranking second among all Mediterranean ports.
“COSCO’s investment in the Port of Piraeus constitutes a win-win situation for all stakeholders involved; it is profitable for both COSCO and Greece,” the Greek leader said.
Recently a new business plan for the Port of Piraeus was approved, which will facilitate the improvement and expansion of the existing infrastructure and allow for future growth opportunities, he added.
The Port of Piraeus has a lot of potential, he said, explaining that the development of the cruise business with a new pier and other commercial activities, the construction of new hotels within the port area, and the increase in container handling capacity all showcase its promising future.
“The operation of the Port of Piraeus benefits the whole surrounding area and the Greek economy. This investment is an example of fruitful cooperation internationally,” Mitsotakis stressed.
Greece has become a full member of the cooperation mechanism between China and Central and Eastern European Countries since April, expanding the previous “16+1” cooperation mechanism into “17+1.”
“We aspire to play an important constructive role in working together with all participating states. We are confident that the participation of Greece in the 17+1 initiative will be an added value for all participating countries,” Mitsotakis said.
“Our country has always played a prominent role as a pillar of peace, stability, development and European integration in its region,” he said of Greece’s role in the cooperation framework.
“We consider that the cooperation can benefit Greece and the countries of Central and Eastern Europe, including those who are not yet members of the EU, thus contributing to regional stability, security and development,” he added.
Regarding cooperation on addressing international challenges such as anti-globalization and climate change, Mitsotakis stressed that the two countries’ cooperation in international organizations is fruitful with many examples of mutual support for each other’s candidacies.
“Our countries’ desire for an open, rules-based international order based on the UN Charter and international law constitutes the pillar of our cooperation in international relations,” he said.
Moreover, Greece considers the contribution of China absolutely necessary in tackling significant global challenges, such as ecological degradation and climate change, he added.
Greece, he said, believes that China’s role is much needed in safeguarding the international trade system, with the World Trade Organization at its core, as well as in dealing with the fight against terrorism and extremism, always within the context of the UN and relevant international agreements.
by Yu Shuaishuai, Li Xiaopeng, Maria Spiliopoulou