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Speech by Ambassador Zou Xiaoli at the International Symposium-The Need of A Constructive Dialogue between Peoples and Cultures and the Olympic Idea

Respected Mr. Katsifaras, Governor of the Region of Western Greece,

Respected Mr. Kotzas, Mayor of Ancient Olympia, 

Respected Mr. Mercouris, President of HORIZONS-Human & Cultural Activities,

Respected Mr. Gangas, Director of the International Olympic Academy,

Ladies and gentlemen, dear friends,

Good afternoon!

It is a great honour for me to attend today’s symposium in the renowned International Olympic Academy at the invitation of Mr. Mercouris, President of HORIZONS-Human & Cultural Activities. This is my first time to visit the city of Olympia and the International Olympic Academy. Here the cluster of ancient Olympia architecture stands proudly after the test of thousands of years, which demands our highest respect. Yesterday and today, I met with the governor of the Region of Western Greece, the mayor of Ancient Olympia, and the President of the International Olympic Academy, and held fruitful talks with them. I have made an important decision, i.e., to bring more Chinese tourists, young people and students in particular, to come to visit Ancient Olympia. I have also drawn an important inspiration, namely, China’s contribution to the international Olympic movement should not only be reflected in the successful holding of the 2008 Olympic Games and the holding of the 2022 Winter Olympics, but also, and more importantly, in playing a more active role in promoting the Olympic culture and education, and advocating the Olympic spirit. Young people represent the future. Only when they know where man has come from can they be clear about the future development of mankind and usher in a better tomorrow.

Over 2800 years ago, the ancient Olympic Games was born in the sacred city of Olympia. Today, the Olympic Games has claimed its reputation worldwide, while the Olympic spirit of surpassing oneself, pursuing peace, as well as fairness and justice has gone far beyond sports and become part and parcel of human civilization, which is a priceless spiritual and cultural heritage that Greece contributes to the world. In today’s world, we are faced with not only unprecedented opportunities for development, but also challenges like alienation, conflict, war, and poverty. The International Symposium-The Need of A Constructive Dialogue between Peoples and Cultures and the Olympic Idea, jointly held by the HORIZONS-Human & Cultural Activities and the International Olympic Academy at the birthplace of ancient Olympics, reflects the spirit of the times and is highly relevant, to which I want to express my deep appreciation and respect.

As the ancient Olympic movement took root in Greece, a number of great thinkers such as Lao-tzu and Confucius also emerged in ancient China. Shining upon each other, ancient Chinese and Greek civilizations jointly gave birth to the ancient Silk Road and made important contribution to the exchange of ideas and arts between the East and the West as well as trade and scientific progress.

Over the past 43 years since the establishment of diplomatic relations between our two countries, the two governments and peoples have always respected each other, treated each other as equals, and helped each other in times of difficulties, contributing to the dialogue and mutual learning of different civilizations. Cultural exchanges have always been an important part of bilateral relations. In recent years in particular, China-Greece cultural exchanges have reached new levels in terms of both width and depth. Our two sides have held the Forum on Maritime Cooperation, the Seminar on Tourism Cooperation and the Cultural Industry Cooperation Seminar. Media groups, orchestras, and a sailing team from China have arrived in Greece either along the Silk Road on the land or the Maritime Silk Road and conducted interesting events. Preparations for the Chinese Cultural Center in Athens are underway. Relevant departments of our two countries are discussing underwater archeological cooperation to restore splendor to the ancient Maritime Silk Road. It is fair to say that China-Greece relations are vivid demonstration of the dialogue and exchanges of different civilizations in the new era, which is a continuance of the Olympic spirit and plays a leading role in China-EU relations.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The initiative of “Silk Road Economic Belt” and “Maritime Silk Road of the 21st Century” put forward by Chinese President Xi Jinping aims at forging a community of shared interests, shared destiny, and shared responsibilities for countries in Asia and Europe, which includes not only interconnectivity of infrastructure and trade liberalization, but also political mutual trust and cultural inclusiveness. Standing at the converging point of the Silk Road on the land and the Maritime Silk Road, Greece is a natural gateway for China-EU trade and cultural exchanges. At the Winter Olympic Games of 2022 to be jointly held by the city of Beijing and Zhangjiakou, the sacred flame from Olympia will be lit again in China, attracting the attention and admiration of sportsmen of different countries and a global audience. The Initiative of “One Belt and One Road” and the 2022 Winter Olympics will offer historical opportunities for realizing joint revitalization of our two countries and give new meaning and vitality to the Olympic spirit. I am fully convinced that China and Greece, two nations with profound history and splendid cultures, will carry forward the great Olympic spirit and the spirit of the Silk Road and make new contribution to peace, friendship, and progress of mankind together with peoples of other countries.

Thank you!

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