|Ambassador Zou Xiaoli Attends the Ceremony of the Signing of the Agreement of Piraeus Port Authority S.A.|
On April 8, after the signing of the agreements on the transfer of the majority stake of PPA between Taiped and China COSCO Shipping Corporation, a ceremony was held at Zappeion by the two parties. Over 300 people attended the ceremony including Chinese Ambassador Zou Xiaoli, Chairman Xu Lirong of China COSCO Shipping Corporation, Government Vice-President Dragasakis, Deputy Foreign Minister Mardas, Alternate Minister Kountoura of the Ministry of Economy, Development and Tourism, Government Spokesperson Gerovasili, Vice President Hatzidakis of Nea Demokratia, President Theodorakis of Potami, Governor Stournaras of the Bank of Greece, the mayors of Athens, Marathon, and Perama, prominent Greek ship-owners, as well as representatives of shipping companies, tourism associations, major media outlets, Greece-China friendship organizations, Chinese businesses in Greece, and the overseas Chinese community. Taiped Chairman Pitsolas presided over the ceremony. ERT had a live coverage of the event.
Ambassador Zou pointed out that eyes of the world are on Greece once again, for the cloud is dispersing and the sunshine is getting in. The COSCO Piraeus port project will drive increase in Chinese investment in Greece, bilateral trade and people-to-people exchanges in a remarkable way. Sectors where Greece enjoys special strength, such as shipping, ship-building and repair, logistics and tourism will receive strong boost, which will help the speedy recovery of the Greek economy. The Port of Piraeus, together with the Hungary-Serbia Railway, the construction of which has started, will constitute the European part of the China-Europe Land-Sea Express Route and greatly increase the efficiency of land-sea transport between China and Europe and between Asia and Europe. Greece can well become the hub for the new trade corridor between the East and the West. The revival of the Port of Piraeus will contribute to the further integration of resources of countries along the East Mediterranean, the Caspian Sea, and the Baltic Sea, and facilitate the configuration of coordinated development of Southeast Europe, central Europe, Middle East, and North Africa. The position of Greece as the anchor for regional stability and development will be further strengthened to render it a greater role in fighting the threats of war, conflict, estrangement and poverty.
Ambassador Zou stated that as the cradle of Western civilization and a bridge between Asia and Europe, Greece made indelible contribution to the birth and prosperity of the ancient Silk Road. Today the Initiative of "One Belt and One Road" put forward by President Xi Jinping has placed Greece at an important knot of the New Silk Road of the 21st Century. After thousands of years of vicissitudes, China and Greece, two ancient nations, are once again presented with the opportunity to promote human civilizations side by side. It is by no means a coincidence, it is actually a choice of history, a call of the times and wellbeing for the world.
Ambassador Zou pointed out that the upcoming of COSCO's participation in the management of PPA will not change the fact that the Port of Piraeus remains a Greek port, a sweet home for the local people living around the Port and a crown jewel of the Greek nation. The Port of Piraeus will become a strong bond linking the two peoples, a bond that is not only economic but also humanistic and emotional. The two sides are also expanding cooperation on the increase of students to each other's country, higher education, cultural industry, underwater archaeology, film, press, publication and exchanges among historical cities of the two countries. The interactions of scientists and scientific and technological innovation cooperation have also been put on the agenda.
Ambassador Zou stressed that the signing of the Piraeus Port project is China's vote of confidence for Greece's economic recovery. It is also Greece's vote of confidence for China. More importantly, it is our joint vote of confidence for our future and cooperation. China needs Greece, as Greece needs China. The destinies of our two countries have never been so intertwined as today. This year marks the 10th anniversary of the establishment of comprehensive and strategic partnership between China and Greece, which makes the timing of the agreements signed today most optimal. We are looking forward to Prime Minister Tsipras' visit to China at an early date this year, for the two sides to work out plans on strengthening cooperation in various areas for the benefit of peoples of the two countries. China and Greece are ardent to realize respective national revival.
In his address, Mr. Xu Lirong said that since the regrouping of COSCO and China Shipping in February this year, China COSCO Shipping Corporation has become a shipping company with the largest number of fleets in the world and it ranks second in terms of the throughput of containers. The signing of the agreements on the Piraeus Port project has pushed the strategic cooperation between COSCO Shipping and the Port of Piraeus a big step forward. Since 2009, COSCO Shipping has made quality investment in the Pier 2 and Pier 3 of PCT, making the Port of Piraeus an important hub in East Mediterranean. After the acquisition, COSCO Shipping will take the important opportunity of the "One Belt One Road" Initiative to build the Port of Piraeus into an international logistics center in east Mediterranean, and the southern gate for Central and Eastern Europe and the Balkans. COSCO Shipping will invest in the upgrading of infrastructure, develop the international cruise-ship business, and continue to operate the ferry business so as to create more jobs for the local people and make positive contribution to economic development of Greece.
Dragasakis stressed that the development of relations with China conforms to the long-term and strategic interests of Greece. In March last year, he visited China as the special envoy of Prime Minister Tsipras and established good working relations with the Chinese side. Prime Minister Tsipras wishes to realize his official visit to China at an early date. The Greek side has already taken the visit as an important opportunity to create new prospects for Greece-China cooperation and looks forward to fruitful results coming out of the visit. Greece is ready to play an important role for the development of "One Belt and One Road" and is taking serious consideration of applying to join the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank to expand Greece's international financing channels.