|Speech by Ambassador Zou Xiaoli at Welcoming Ceremony for the visit of Tianjin Nankai High School at Athens College-Psychico College|
Mr. Petros Alivizatos, treasurer of the Hellenic American Educational Foundation,
Mr. Apostolos Athanasopoulos, head of schools and director of high school, Psychico College,
President of Athens College-Psychico College Mr. Spiros Pollalis,
Deputy Priciple of Tianjin Nankai High School Mr. Wang Wenchang,
Dear students and faculty of Athens College and Tianjin Nankai High School,
It is a great pleasure for me to be invited to today’s event and share this beautiful and exciting moment with you. This year marks the 10th anniversary of the establishment of comprehensive strategic partnership between China and Greece, and hopefully, a year of cultural exchanges and cooperation between our two countries. Therefore, the coming-together of your two schools is of extraordinary significance. Your schools and yourselves are writing a new chapter of friendly exchanges between China and Greece.
Both Nankai High School and Athens College are prestigious schools with a broad international vision. Both advocate openness, inclusiveness, and round development of the person. You have produced two Chinese Prime Ministers and four Greek Prime Ministers. I have the rare honour to get to know one of the two Chinese Prime Ministers and two of the four Greek Prime Ministers in my career. They talked to me about their time at school and what influence the Alma Maters have on them. I was so impressed that I came to the idea of facilitating direct exchanges between the two schools. My special thanks go to Mr. Alexandros Samaras, Mr. Spiros Pollalis from Athens College and Mr. Sun Hailin from Nankai High School. Without their vision and efforts, such a beautiful wish could not have come true.
You are representing not only your schools, but also your motherlands, two countries that gave birth to splendid civilizations, two countries that are so different yet often so shockingly similar. History has told us that only through continuous reform and opening-up can a country score progress and a nation prosperity. To our great delight, in recent years China-Greece relations have become increasingly closer and more fruitful. Heads of state and government of the two countries have had contacts between them with a higher frequency than ever before. Last year saw the “China-Greece Maritime Cooperation Year”, first of its kind in Europe, be successfully held. The throughput of Pier 2 and Pier 3 of Piraeus Container Terminal run by Cosco, a Chinese shipping giant, increased from 800,000 TEU to 3 million TEU over the past five years, becoming one of the fastest growing container terminals in the world. Last month, Cosco was selected as preferred investor for the majority stake of PPA (Piraeus Port Authority). This opened new prospects for expanding investment cooperation between our two countries. The aim is to build the China-Europe Land-Sea Express Route, which will connect the maritime Silk Road with the Silk Road on land, thus making Greece an important gateway for trade between China and Europe. The Chinese Cultural Center in Athens is expected to start operating, the Asia-Europe Scientific Innovation Conference will also be held in Athens within the year. Both sides are considering declaring the year 2016 a year of cultural exchanges and cultural industry cooperation, which is aimed to combine rich cultural resources of the two countries with trade and investment cooperation so that culture and economy can move in synergy and reinforce each other.
While strengthening bilateral relations, China and Greece have also conducted sound coordination and cooperation in regional and international affairs to jointly safeguard regional peace and stability. It is our shared position that differences between states should be handled peacefully through political dialogue and diplomatic means. Both China and Greece oppose interference into the internal affairs of other countries and hegemonism. Greece helped dozens of thousands of Chinese nationals evacuate from war-torn regions in North Africa and Middle East over the past decade. China is a firm supporter of Greek role as a stabilizer in east Mediterranean. Chinese community in Greece made large donations and organized volunteers to assist Greek authorities in providing relief to the migrants from Syria.
China and Greece are both friends who help each other in difficult times and partners pursuing common development. The continuous development of our friendly relations calls for the participation and efforts of young people, which is also why the exchanges you are having now is so important. Young as you are, you have already started to make history. I have a wish, which is also a conviction, that China and Greece, which created splendid civilizations in the past, will march together hand-in-hand to lead the world again and make new contribution to the progress of humanity.
I hope and believe that Athens College and Nankai High School will produce more outstanding talents, who will shoulder the important task of revitalizing China and Greece and promote the friendly ties between the two nations. You can and you must fulfil this proud mission.