11 May, 2007
The Chinese leadership's intention to upgrade its relations with Greece in the economic, cultural and political sectors was conveyed to Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis by Prime Minister Wen Jiabao, Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi and Culture and Education Minister Chen Zhili, as well as by the president of the colossal COSCO shipping group, in separate meetings she had with them in Beijing on Thursday.
"The political leadership showed great interest and the contacts were extremely positive," Bakoyannis said after the meetings, adding that "China views Greece as a 'gateway' for the promotion of its products in the markets of the Balkans, the Black Sea and the Eastern Mediterranean and there is strong interest in cooperation with Greek ports."
Both sides also approached major international issues from Kosovo to the issue of Cyprus and relations with the European Union to security in the Far East from a common point of view and as the foreign minister said "the Chinese leadership looks forward to our cooperation at the Security Council."
Bakoyannis was received at the traditional Chinese mansion for official welcomings at the Jon Nan Hai complex and termed her welcoming "upgraded and very substantive."
Bakoyannis discussed with Jiabao, who is termed by the official Press a "moderate" and a supporter of a "harmonious society", aiming at lifting the contrasts created by the rapidly developing economy, all issues with special emphasis being placed on economic ones which, as the minister said, he was well aware of and in detail.
Foreign Minister Jiechi underlined for his Greek counterpart the desire for the deepening of bilateral cooperation and his country's strong interest in Greece as a transit centre in the Balkans and the Eastern Mediterranean, as well as the desire for investments. The two ministers signed a Cooperation Protocol between the two foreign ministries at the end of the meeting.
The desire for cooperation at Greek ports and interest in managing container terminals was also expressed by COSCO President "Captain Wei", who heads the fourth shipping group in the world and manages about 600 ships, 140 of which belong to COSCO.
"The Chinese are interested in investing a great deal of money," said "Captain Wei" and stressed that "he expects Greece to become an important partner."
Speaking to reporters, Bakoyannis said "we are the best customers in the sea transportation sector. Greek ships carry 50 percent of energy and dry cargo to and from China. We are also building 187 ships in Chinese shipyards. They want to promote cooperation with investments in Greek ports and to strengthen relations with Greece, which they see as a gateway to the wider region. This message was conveyed to me by both the prime minister and the foreign minister."
Referring to discussions she had on international issues, the foreign minister said that there is cooperation at the Security Council. "Greece steadfastly supports the principle of one China and China supports Greek positions on the issue of Cyprus.
They want from us support, as members of the EU, to strengthen their relations with the EU and they have it. We also support their position for 'market economy' status to be given," she said.
On the issue of Kosovo, that is in the limelight in view of a decision by the Security Council, at which China has the right of a "veto", being a permanent member, the Chinese leadership has an extremely cautious approach and supports an "agreed and viable solution."
The political climate between Greece and China is excellent and this was confirmed by this visit as well. What is required is the strengthening of economic and trade relations and Greek culture can become the springboard for this goal to be achieved.
Source: Athens News Agency