|Address by Ambassador Zou Xiaoli at the Ceremony for the Issuance of Commemorative Stamp for "2015 China-Greece Maritime Cooperation Year"|
Your excellency, Minister Dritsas of Shipping and Island Policy,
Your Excellency, First Deputy Speaker Kourakis,
Mr. Melachrinos, Chairman of the Board of ELTA,
Ladies and gentlemen,
I am delighted to attend the ceremony for the issuance of commemorative stamp for the "2015 China-Greece Maritime Cooperation Year". On behalf of the Chinese Embassy in Greece, I would like to express sincere thanks to the ELTA and Chairman Melachrinos. The commemorative stamp is not only a beautiful ending of the year of maritime cooperation but also a big gift to the new year.
The 2015 China-Greece Maritime Cooperation Year is something worth recording in history. It is the first time that China has carried out a cooperation year themed on the sea with a foreign country, which reflects the sincere wish and tremendous potential of China to expand maritime cooperation with Greece and jointly build the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road. Thanks to joint efforts of the two sides, nearly 30 projects have been implemented in the cooperation year, covering various areas including ports, shipping, shipbuilding, maritime technology, and maritime culture, with fruitful results and important breakthroughs. The ground-breaking ceremony for the expansion of Pier 3 of PCT was launched. A delegation of HEMEXPO visited China. A delegation of the National Center for Underwater Cultural Heritage Protection of China visited Greece. China sent delegations to attend the Posidonia Sea Tourism Forum and the "European Maritime Day". A delegation composed of mayors of cities neighboring Piraeus visited China. A seminar on maritime technology between China and Greece will be held. Chinese naval ships visited Greece, and the list goes on.
The maritime cooperation year has greatly enriched practical cooperation between the two sides, cultivated new growth points and enhanced the bond of friendship between the two countries. It is worth special mentioning that it has also had an amplifying effect on China-EU relations as a whole. At the end of last year, the Closing Ceremony of the China-Greece Maritime Cooperation Year was held in parallel with China-Southern Europe Maritime Cooperation Forum. Prime Minister Tsipras sent Minister Dritsas to attend these events. As the representative of the six southern European countries, Minister Dritsas addressed the China-Southern Europe Maritime Cooperation Forum, saying that Greece would like to work with China to establish a regional mechanism for maritime cooperation with China, which received great media attention.
It is great news that on January 20th Greece made the formal announcement that COSCO was selected as preferred investor for the majority stake of PPA, a case for win-win benefits and a crucial step for China-Greece and China-EU maritime cooperation. It is the ardent hope of the Chinese side that the Court of Audit and the Hellenic Parliament would approve relevant papers very soon so that this most important cooperation project between China and Greece would proceed smoothly and bring benefit to people of the two countries at an early date. Chinese companies are expressing confidence and support for economic recovery in Greece with real actions. According to Greek media, learning about COSCO's expanded investment in the Port of Piraeus, Chinese shipbuilding companies, shipping equipment makers, shipping companies and banks have applied with great enthusiasm to attend the Posidonia Exhibition to be held in June. China is very likely to become the biggest foreign participant. Currently, relevant authorities of the Chinese and Greek governments have been discussing to formulate a three-year plan in order to provide plan and guidance for the exchanges and cooperation between the two countries in various areas. The year 2016 will become a year of cultural exchanges and cultural industry cooperation, the purpose of which is to combine the rich cultural resources of the two countries with trade and investment cooperation so that culture and economy will reinforce each other. The Chinese Cultural Center in Athens will begin to operate, which will add another important platform for cultural exchanges of the two ancient civilizations and for enhancing friendship between the two peoples. The Asia-Europe Scientific Innovation Conference will be held in Athens. As coordinator for Asia and Europe respectively, China and Greece will play important roles and jointly promote cooperation in scientific innovation.
Ladies and gentlemen,
The success of the maritime cooperation year shows once again that as long as the two countries pursue the spirit of mutual respect, openness and inclusiveness, enhance cooperation, and march fearlessly forward, China and Greece will surely realize common development and prosperity, lead the world once again and make new contribution to the progress of humanity. This should become our shared conviction. Let's work for it!