Greece, China explore maritime ties

Greece wants to strengthen maritime cooperation with China, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras told Chinese President Xi Jinping, suggesting that the Mediterranean nation could serve as a regional hub for the support of Beijing’s commercial and military vessels.

“Crete [has] all the appropriate infrastructure for the refuelling, maintenance and repair of your country’s navy ships,” Samaras told Xi on Rhodes Sunday as the Chinese leader made a technical stop on his way to the BRICS summit in Brazil.

“There is a possibility for cooperation, for example, in joint patrols of war ships,” said Samaras, who also spoke about collective action to fight piracy at sea.

This was the second high-level visit from China to the debt-hit country in a month – and Xi said he would like to serve as an ambassador for Greek tourism among his country’s 1.3 billion population.

Premier Li Keqiang visited the country in June to oversee the signing of trade and investment deals worth some 6.5 billion euros, while pledging to increase China’s purchase of Greek government bonds.

Athens hopes Chinese investment will help spark long-elusive growth, while the Asian giant sees Greece as a gateway for investment in the rest of Europe.

“The Chinese side will continue to support Greece on sovereign debt issues and efforts to promote economic recovery,” said Xi, making special reference to transportation infrastructure, shipping and energy.

“China is ready to share its development opportunities with Greece and further enhance the bilateral comprehensive strategic partnership,” Xi said.