|Speech by Ambassador Zou Xiaoli at the Signing Ceremony of the Cooperation Protocol on the Establishment of the "Amphictyony of Ancient Greek Cities"|
Distinguished minister, governors and mayors,
Good evening! It is my great honour to address you at the signing ceremony of the cooperation protocol on the establishment of the "Amphictyony of Ancient Greek cities". It is not a personal honour for me, rather, it reflects the friendly feelings of the Greek people towards China and the Chinese people, and the sincere hope to strengthen our bilateral relations. I am deeply touched. Here, on behalf of the Chinese Embassy in Greece, I would like to extend warm congratulations on the establishment of the amphictyony, and my special thanks go to Mr. Psinaksi, President of the amphictyony and mayor of Marathon for his kind invitation.
Over the past two years as the Chinese ambassador to Greece, I have visited many cities and made friends with governors, mayors, and ordinary people in this country. From the small villages in the high mountains of Metso to the local bars on the Kiklades islands, it is not rare to hear "Kina Bravo". Through these visits, I have come to a deeper understanding why Greece is called "spiritual home of Europe". I have also understood much more why China and Greece, two great nations so strikingly different yet so similar, could jointly contribute remarkably to the progress of human civilizations.
In recent years, there has been an increasingly strong trend in China to learn more about Greece, come to Greece and collaborate with Greece. Last year, over 500 Chinese nationals participated in the "Authentic Marathon Race". Nearly 20 delegations of Chinese provinces and cities visited Greece. Crete and Peloponnese entered into sister cities with Hainan Province and Qinghai Province of China. The mayors of Elefsina, Perama, Aspropyrgou, and Megara, four cities neighboring the Port of Piraeus, visited China at the invitation of the Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries. Due to the rapid growth of Chinese tourists, hundreds of hotels on Greek islands like Santorini have realized all-season business. Last month, 30 institutions of higher learning from Zhejiang Province visited Greece, of which 8 universities signed MOU on exchanges and cooperation with Technical Educational Institute of Athens (TEI). The friendly exchanges and cooperation between the provinces and cities of the two countries have vigorously promoted cooperation in the fields of trade, culture, tourism, and education, etc.
This year marks the 10th anniversary of the comprehensive and strategic partnership between China and Greece. I hope it is also a year of exchanges between cities of the two countries and cultural exchanges between the two peoples. We are doing our best for the early opening of the Chinese Cultural Center in Athens. The two sides will carry out cooperation in key areas like cultural heritage preservation, underwater archaeology, the Marathon race, and the Olympic culture. I am convinced that the great potential of friendly cooperation between our two countries lies in the hands of the peoples. The development of China-Greece relations calls for joint efforts of the two peoples and will benefit the two peoples. The establishment of the amphictyony will play an important role for this purpose. Today marks a new beginning for the ancient Greek cities, and I believe it is also a new start for the exchanges between cities and peoples of our two countries.
Having said that, I would like to once again offer my sincere congratulations and best wishes to the amphictyony and I assure you the commitment and support of my embassy in helping the amphictyony establishing relations with relevant Chinese cities and institutions.