|The Chinese Ambassador Mr. Zou Xiaoli Attends the Second Chinese-Hellenic Cities Forum Briefing in Thessalonik|
On February 11, the Ambassador of the PRC to the Hellenic Republic, Mr. Zou Xiaoli, attended a meeting intended to brief local government officials of Northern Greece on the prospects of bilateral projects with Chinese local government bodies. Present at the briefing were the Greek Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs Mr. I. Amanatidis, Deputy Minister of Economy and Development Mr. S. Pitsiorlas, I. Psinakis, Mayor and President of the Amphictyony of Ancient Greek Cities, and Thessaloniki's Mayor, I. Boutaris, as well as other Northern Greece mayors, representatives of local chambers, members of the Chinese community, students, a.o.
Mr. Boutaris welcomed the initiative and thanked the Ambassador for attending. As Mr. Boutaris said, the point of the briefing was to strengthen mutual understanding, and encourage Greek local government bodies and businesses to become involved in China-Greece cooperation, thus providing impetus for the growth of bilateral relations in economy and culture to accomplish more concrete results. Mr. Amanatidis provided an overview of the burgeoning relations between China and Greece, and expressed the hope that the Second Cities Forum will prove a complete success.
The Ambassador also urged those present to participate in the Second Chinese-Hellenic Cities Forum to be held in China this year, stressing that they will be welcome and that the forum is by far the most convenient bridge and the strongest link between the local governments of the two sides. The first forum was very successful; it afforded rich experiences, and has gained recognition in Chinese provinces and cities. The Chinese side will work closely with the Greek side to render this year's forum even more successful and will continue to strive for more concrete results.
Ambassador Zou also briefed the participants on the latest initiative by the Chinese President Mr. Xi Jinping, the "Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation" Forum, which will be organized in Beijing in May 2017. The Ambassador also commented: "This will be an important international cooperation platform for consultation and the joint development of the ''Belt and Road'', and for sharing the fruits of this mutually beneficial cooperation. China expects Greece, a strategic partner in the creation of the New Silk Road of the 21st Century, to play an important role in making the summit a complete success. To this end, I think the efforts and contribution of the China-Hellenic Cities Forum, the Amphictyony of Ancient Greek Cities and your participation, Mayors of Greece, are undoubtedly indispensable and highly respected."
In his speech, Mr. Pitsiorlas reminded thatGreece China are two ancient civilizations joined by the bonds of a long-standing friendship. "Today, the future their bilateral relations appears even brighter, as our two countries share extensive common interests based on the convergence between the "Belt and Road" Initiative and Greece's National Development Strategy. As an important node in the "Belt and Road" network, Greece is willing to function as a bridge connecting China with Europe and the world at large. COSCO's Piraeus Project was the first step in bilateral cooperation that is based on a win-win approach; I am optimistic that the two sides will reinforce teamwork on infrastructure planning and construction to link railways, motorways, airlines etc. He also said China and Greece can also cooperate in the fields of energy, science and technology, tourism, ship building and repair, food processing, fur processing, manufacture and elsewhere, and to open up new markets. The fact that China will be the Country of Honor in the 2017 Thessaloniki International Fair will greatly boost bilateral cooperation, as TIF's radiance reaches beyond the Balkans and the wider Northeast Europe region to West Asia and North Africa.
Mr. Psinakis gave information about last year's First Cities Forum and the Second Forum to be convened this year in China, and called on mayors to actively participate, and multiply exchanges and cooperation projects with Chinese cities in areas such as the economy, culture, and education.