|Chinese Ambassador Zou Xiaoli Attends the Launching Ceremony of China as the Country of Honor in the 82nd Thessaloniki International Fair|
On February 11, Chinese Ambassador Mr. Zou Xiaoli attended in Thessaloniki the Launching Ceremony of China as Country of Honor in the 82nd Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF). TIF President Mr. Tzikas, TIF Managing Director Mr. Pozrikidies, Mayor of Marathon and President of the Amphictyony of Ancient Greek Cities Mr. Psinakis were present along with guests from various sectors, and members of the Chinese community and students.
While Thessaloniki's municipal orchestra played the national anthems of China and Greece, the national flags of the two countries were being raised. Ambassador Zou and the President of TIF pulled open the promotional banners of China as the Country of Honor in the 82th TIF.
In his remarks, Ambassador Zou thanked Thessaloniki and TIF for hosting the ceremony that ushers in the events of China as TIF Country of Honor, and to celebrate the Chinese Lantern Festival. He gave his warm wishes for the Chinese New Year and the Lantern Festival to all present. He said that in 1998, China participated in TIF as the first country to be honored in the exhibition's history, where it demonstrated the results of the initial stages of its reform and opening-up process; ever since, TIF became an important point through which Chinese commodities could enter Europe. Nineteen years on, China, now already the world's second largest economy, demonstrates the huge importance it places on, and the great expectations it has from TIF and China-Greece cooperation by being the Country of Honor once again.
As Ambassador Zou stressed, history has repeatedly shown that the futures of countries and nations are becoming increasingly intertwined. Only through enhanced cooperation can countries realize joint revitalization and become a unified community. That is why the "Belt and Road" Initiative, put forward by Chinese President Mr. Xi Jinping, has been warmly received and attracted participation from most countries in the world, Greece included. China and Greece have concluded a strategic agreement to jointly turn the Port of Piraeus into Europe's most important hub in the Mediterranean and a crucial pillar of "Belt and Road" cooperation. The railway connecting Piraeus with Central and Eastern Europe, which passes through Thessaloniki, will also connect the maritime Silk Road with the Silk Road on land. The implementation of this strategy will open up tremendous opportunities for economic integration and development for Greece and the Balkans, and will incite more Chinese businesses to become involved in the development of the region, especially in the sectors of transportation, energy, and telecommunications with the aim of boosting infrastructure connectivity. As an important link of the China-Europe Land-Sea Express Route, Thessaloniki will surely enjoy broader development prospects. It is my firm belief that the 82nd TIF will attract the attention of an unprecedented number of regional and global businesses. China will continue to communicate with Greece and work together with other participating countries to make the 82nd TIF a grand gathering for economic and cultural exchanges between China and Greece, Southeast Europe, the Balkans, West Asia and North Africa, and write a splendid chapter in the process of the co-creation of the New Silk Road of the 21st Century. Just as Chinese President Xi Jinping said, "Let us roll up our sleeves and speed up our work in 2017."
Mr. Tzikas, TIF's President, said that this is the first event marking China's nomination as the Country of Honor in this year's TIF. The Fair invited China to be the Honored Country aiming to strengthen exchanges and cooperation between the two nations in economy, culture and other areas, thus enabling these two ancient civilizations to engage in exchanges and learn from each other. TIF is eager to take full advantage of this opportunity to broaden cooperation with the Chinese side. Thessaloniki has always acted as a link between Eastern and Western civilizations, and this year's event will surely contribute to the creation of the New Silk Road.
Mr. Psinakis commented that the fact that China is the Country of Honor in this year's TIF offers an excellent opportunity for bilateral relations to develop further. The Amphictyony of the Ancient Greek Cities and the Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries (CPAFFC) will co-host the Second Hellenic-Chinese Cities Forum in China this year. The Amphictyony cities are willing to actively engage in exchanges and cooperation with Chinese cities in the fields of the economy, tourism a.e., helping both the Greek economy to recover and contributing to the realization of the Belt and Road vision.
After the launching ceremony, a local cultural troupe gave an excellent performance of Chinese Kung Fu and Lion dancing, to celebrate the Chinese Lantern Festival that fell on the same day.