The China-Greece Year of Culture and Tourism began on Thursday with a ceremony held at the foot of the Acropolis as officials from both countries expressed confidence in a stronger friendship and further cooperation between the two peoples.
The opening ceremony, attended by Greek and Chinese officials, was hosted inside the archaeological site of the Ancient Agora – the commercial, social and political hub of Athens during antiquity – and provided a glimpse into the rich program of events to unfold in the coming months.
“Guided by the words of Lao Tzu, ‘a journey of a thousand miles begins with a simple step,’ and Socrates’ saying, ‘the most valuable acquisition is a good friend,’ I wish for a good start and the best success,” Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said in a video message, citing words of wisdom by the two ancient philosophers.
Greeks and Chinese will be offered several opportunities this year and next to communicate and enhance collaboration through a series of exhibitions at museums in both countries, film screenings such as the first Greek-Chinese co-production, and many other events, he explained.
The year 2022 marks the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said in his video message, adding that the cultural and tourism events will further help enhance mutual understanding, deepen traditional friendship and promote practical cooperation between the two countries.
“We highlight the past of our two countries, we shape the present together and we plan for the future,” Culture Minister Lina Mendoni said, outlining a program of planned cultural events and projects: “We treat our traditions with respect, recognizing that culture is the oxygen of our societies, but also the most convenient way for peoples to get closer to each other.”
Anna Vasiliki Karapanagiotou, director of the National Archaeological Museum of Athens, and Wang Qiang, charge d’affaires of the Chinese Embassy in Greece, inaugurated the digital exhibition “Parallel Space: Meet the Terracotta Warriors in Greece,” which runs until February 28 on the Greek museum’s website.
“Despite the pandemic and the difficulties arising, our relations with China advance and I hope they develop further in the future,” said Constantine Yannidis, president of the Hellenic-Chinese Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Tourism and Shipping.