On the occasion of the 45th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Greece and China, Greek Ambassador to China, Mr Leonidas Rokanas, shared his perspective on the Sino-Greek ties in an interview with Chinese English-language newspaper The Global Times.
Ambassador Rokanas stressed the importance of culture and historical relations with China as the basis of trust and friendship that supports the bilateral relations between the two countries. He also referred to the expanded cooperation and exchanges at the highest level between the leaders of the two countries as reflected in the presence of PM Tsipras twice in China during the years 2016-2017, in the organization of the Forum of Ancient Civilizations in Athens in April 2017 and in the increase in bilateral contacts and exchanges over the last two years.
In the field of culture, the Greek Ambassador noted the recent official visit by the Greek Minister of Culture and Sports to China, the decision to extend the Year of Cultural Exchanges and Cooperation between Greece and China for one more year, the realization of many cultural events, as well as the promotion of collaborations in most areas such as museum exhibitions, preservation of antiquities, national theatres’ cooperation, book translations etc. He also stressed the importance of cultural cooperation for the development of further tourism relations, as well as the importance of the recent launch of Air China's direct flights between Beijing and Athens.
With regard to investments, Ambassador Rokanas noted the enormous potential for their further enhancement, the rapid growth of Greek exports to China (a 44% increase for 2015 and 2016, and almost 70% for the first 7 months of 2017), the increase in bilateral trade and the importance of optimizing - with China's support – the trade balance and the reduction of the Greek deficit.
In connection to bilateral economic relations and the recent criticism by international Media of China's penetration strategy in the Greek area, Rokanas stressed their importance for the development of Greek economy, underlining the fact that they do not rival but are complementary to Greece's relations with other countries and with the EU. He also noted that Greece considers the Belt and Road Initative to be an open, equal and mutually beneficial policy of interconnectivity that Greece wishes to support, while continuing to play a crucial role in its region as a pillar of peace, stability and prosperity.
Finally, with regard to China's investment opportunities in Greece, Ambassador Rokanas mentioned three sectors that are primed for collaboration and investments: infrastructure (transport and logistics, including railways), telecommunications and energy. All three were included in the bilateral Action Plan that was signed in Beijing last May, which upgraded the already existing Comprehensive Strategic Partnership between Greece and China.
Read The Global Times interview