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Address by Chinese Ambassador Zou Xiaoli at the Press Conference of the 1st Chinese-Hellenic Cities Forum

Distinguished Minister of Interior and Administrative Reconstruction Panagiotis Kouroumblis,

Distinguished Mayor of Marathona and President of Amphictyony of Ancient Greek Cities Ilias Psinakis,

Distinguished Rector of University of Athens Meletios-Athanasios Dimopoulos,


It is a pleasure for me to meet friends from the media together with Minister of Interior Kouroumblis and Mr. Ilias Psinakis, Mayor of Marathon and President of the Amphictyony of Ancient Greek Cities. As Mr. Psinakis has announced, the first session of the Chinese-Greek Cities Forum is going to take place on November 11 in Athens. The aim of the Forum is to create a platform to engage the local authorities, business communities, cultural and educational institutes of China and Greece in enhancing exchanges and cooperation for mutual benefit and win-win situation. China and Greece have decided that 2017 will be China-Greece Cultural Exchanges and Cultural Industry Cooperation Year. China will be the honored country of next year's Thessaloniki International Fair. The Forum on Nov. 11 is also aimed to draw attention and call on the local authorities to play an active role in the above-mentioned major events. This is extremely important for the further development of China-Greece comprehensive strategic partnership, which is entering its second decade since 2006. According to the source of the Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries (CPAFFC), co-organizer of the Forum, a large delegation with over 70 representatives from 4 provinces and 14 cities of China including Beijing and Shanghai will participate in the Forum, making it the largest event for local exchanges since the establishment of diplomatic relations between our two countries 44 years ago. I want to take this opportunity to thank Mr. Psinakis, President of the Amphictyony, for launching the initiative and his tireless efforts to make this event a successful one. I also want to thank the member cities of the Amphictyony for their active participation in the Forum. Particular thanks go to Minister Kouroumblis for his constant political support for the event. I fully believe that with the concerted efforts of the Amphictyony and the CPAFFC, under auspices of the the Greek Ministry of Interior and the Chinese Embassy, the Forum will be a full success.

The theme of the Forum is China-Greece cooperation at local level in the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative, I would like to spend a few minutes on the role of Greece in the Belt and Road Initiative so as to give you a big picture in which the Forum is going to take place. The Belt and Road Initiative was launched by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013 with the aim to enhance cooperation between China and relevant countries along the Silk Road Economic Belt and Maritime Silk Road. Greece, thanks to its advantageous geographic position, represents an important link of the two Silk Roads on land and on the sea. Furthermore, the Cosco Piraeus Port project has significantly consolidated the role of Greece in the Belt and Road Initiative, which can be outlined from the following dimensions:

First, in terms of economic development, China-Greece cooperation, with the Cosco Piraeus Port project as a major driving force, will not only contribute to the recovery of the Greek economy but also to the integration of the regional economy. Take the China-Europe Land-Sea Express Route for example, this creative route will bring down remarkable the cost of time, energy and capital for the flow of commodities between China and Europe and between Asia and Europe. It will link the Maritime Silk Road with the Silk Road on Land and strongly boost economic and trade cooperation among countries in the region, from China to Russia, from Southeastern European countries to the countries in Central Europe and the Middle East. Following the successful investment of Cosco at the Piraeus Port, some big Chinese companies in fields like infrastructure construction, energy and finance have increased their interest in the Greek market, starting to discuss new investment projects with the Greek side both at central and local level, which, once implemented along with the Cosco project, will contribute to turn Greece into an engine of growth for the whole Mediterranean region.

In terms of cultural and people-to-people exchanges, Greece has always been a bridge between Western and Eastern civilizations, thanks not only to its geographic position but also to the openness and inclusiveness of its culture and its people. China-Greece relationship is a shining example of mutual understanding and mutual trust between nations with different social and political backgrounds. Recent years have seen an incremental growth of outcomes in our bilateral relations in the fields of tourism, culture, education, as well as science and technology.  The cultural and people-to-people exchanges between China and Greece fully conform to the spirit of the Belt and Road Initiative and represent an important contribution of two ancient nations to the world today.

In terms of peace and security, the Belt and Road Initiative is not only an economic cooperation scheme, but also a solution to peace and security of the world as well. China appreciates Greece's role in dealing with the vulnerable circumstances and crises of the region and worldwide. As permanent member of the UN Security Council, China stands ready to enhance communication and coordination with Greece and other relevant countries and parties so as to create a favorable environment for the implementation of the Belt and Road Initiative.

To make it short, the Belt and Road Initiative provides a golden opportunity for China and Greece, two great ancient nations, to join hands in promoting the progress of human civilizations, while achieving common development and prosperity of ourselves. This is the essence of China-Greece comprehensive strategic partnership. And I hope that the Chinese-Greek Cities Forum, under the theme of enhancing cooperation at local level for the Belt and Road Initiative, will be an important step forward in achieving this goal.

Thank you.

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