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Remarks by Ambassador Zou Xiaoli at the Ceremony of the Signing of the Agreement of Piraeus Port Authority S.A.
2016-04-09

Your Excellency, Government Vice-President Dragasakis,

Ministers,

Mr. Xu Lirong, President of China COSOCO Shipping Corporation,

Mr. Pitsolas, Chairman of TAIPED,

Respected diplomats and dear friends,

In the morning, under the witness of Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, the China COSCO Shipping Corporation Ltd. and Taiped signed the agreement on the transfer of the majority stake of PPA. It is a win-win event, a milestone in the history both of the Port of Piraeus and of COSCO, and I believe it will be a new starting point for friendship and cooperation between China and Greece and for the development of the region. I have conveyed to Prime Minister Tripras and the two parties signing the agreement the congratulatory message from Chinese Premier Li Keqiang. As the Chinese Ambassador to Greece, I feel deeply honoured to experience this historic moment with you and to address such a prestigious audience.

The past 6 years have seen the quadruple of the throughput of PCT, which has got to top 40 companies of the sector worldwide in spite of the complicated regional and international political, economic, and security environment, thanks to the concerted efforts and a pioneering spirit of Chinese and Greek managers and staff. The ancient Port of Piraeus has demonstrated new vigor and vitality and has become a favoured destination for expanded cooperation between the two countries, which lighted the spark of hope in the hearts of many. Rainbows appear after a perfect storm. Standing here at this moment, I would like to express appreciation and gratitude to everyone who has supported and participated in China-Greece cooperation and pay tribute to those who stick to their hope and conviction and continue to forge ahead at even the most difficult times! Reviewing the past allows us to come to a deeper understanding of our common interests, value our mutual trust and friendship, and be more confident about our future. As the Chinese saying goes, "complete sincerity and full cooperation can melt metals and stones". It is my hope that in the years to come we should spare no efforts to march forward aiming for higher goal!

 

Your Excellency, Government Vice-President Dragasakis,

Dear friends,

Today, 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.

As the cradle of Western civilization and a bridge between Asia and Europe, Greece has made indelible contribution to the birth and prosperity of the ancient Silk Road. In the long course of history, in promoting the integration between Eastern and Western civilizations, Greece has developed a special bond with China. As the great Greek writer Kazantsakis once said, "if you scratch the skin of a Greek, you will find a Chinese underneath; And if you scratch the skin of a Chinese, you will find a Greek underneath." I like these words because between the lines one can see the natural affinity between the two peoples and the common values of openness, inclusiveness, equality, and fraternity. 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.

 

Government Vice-President Dragasakis,

Dear friends,

It is obviously right to point 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. When the Port of Piraeus opens her arms to embrace Chinese investors, it has become a new bond linking the two countries and two peoples as well. The bond is not only economic but also humanistic and emotional. China has started to send more students to study in Greece. Exchanges between the institutes of higher learning of the two countries have made a good start. The Chinese Cultural Center in Athens is going to open this year. Recently Greece opened 12 new visa centers in China. The two sides are also expanding cooperation to underwater archaeology, cultural heritage restoration, film, press, publication and cultural industry 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. All these are aimed to provide a strong intellectual support and favorable social acceptance for the comprehensive and deepening of mutually beneficial cooperation between the two countries. I firmly believe people are the source of strength for creating history. As long as we have the understanding, trust and support of the people, no difficulty can stand in path of our cooperation.

 

Government Vice-President Dragasakis,

Dear friends,

China is still the largest developing country in the world, which faces both tremendous development potential and severe challenges. The Chinese side is grateful for the sincere help and assistance rendered by the Greek government and Greek people. Some media say that the signing of the Piraeus Port project is China's vote of confidence for Greece's economic recovery. What I want to add is that 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, hopefully in June, 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. We are also able to reach common revival through strengthened cooperation. Today we are to embark on a new march to open a fresh chapter of our history. We can make our great dreams come true. I am fully confident about that!

Thank you!

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