(Photo: ANA-MPA / PM Office/ Andrea Bonetti)
As a far-reaching 21st century initiative, building on the wisdom of the ancient Chinese Silk Road, hailed the One Belt One Road project PM Alexis Tsipras. Addressing the high level Forum in Beijing on May 14-15, PM Tsipras noted that, in times when the temptation is high to respond to the crises of globalization by reverting to isolation and protectionism and by raising walls, this initiative highlights a vision of connectivity, cooperation and dialogue across Europe and Asia as well as other parts of the world.
If we were to retell, today, the history of the Silk Road, we would not only retell an economic history of cooperation and competition between great-powers, religions, nations and commercial interests, but a history of peoples, their contact and communication.
In his speech, Tsipras stressed the importance of coordinating the Initiative with other regional frameworks such as ASEM, the EU-China Connectivity platform, or China-Europe Land-Sea Express Route, while always promoting a rules-based, transparent and inclusive international trading system, with the World Trade Organization at its core.
He further noted that the goals of the Belt and Road Initiative are compatible with Greece’s regional economic goals, adding that “our dynamic, comprehensive, strategic partnership with China creates a solid basis for working in this direction”.
As a country with a unique geopolitical identity – part of Europe, the Mediterranean, the Balkans and the broader Black Sea region - but also as a maritime country with potential for advancing relations far beyond its immediate neighbourhood, Greece is expanding its role as an important regional hub in the fields of trade, transport, energy, telecommunications, logistics, culture and tourism, Tsipras said, adding that, “as a country with a rich cultural heritage and a world leader in the tourism industry, we highly value the importance of this initiative, for people-to people contacts, cultural exchanges and tourism”.
In this context, the PM cited the 2017 Greek-Chinese cultural exchange year, the recent close cooperation with China in setting up the first Ministerial Conference of the Ancient Civilizations’ Forum, as well as the soon to be launched direct flights between Greece and China.
“We consider that this multilateral forum sets the ground for important new initiatives. Greece is in any case actively promoting ambitious diplomatic initiatives for cooperation and dialogue, on the basis of international law, with all the countries of our broader region. And we see important potential for establishing triangular relations around infrastructure projects in the Balkans and the Eastern Mediterranean”, concluded his speech the PM.