Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Monday welcomed Chinese President Xi Jinping to Greece, expressing hope that the official visit will lead to wider cooperation between the two countries.
"My recent visit to Shanghai and yours today is inaugurating a new era in our relations, he told Xi. "I hope this visit is a milestone in the further deepening of our bilateral relations."
“We confirm in Athens what was evident a few days ago in Shanghai – that relations between our two countries are warmer than ever."
Mitsotakis spoke about the visit they will pay to Chinese port operator Cosco in Piraeus later in the day to discuss the expansion of the investment and the approval of the company’s masterplan for the Greek port.
“Our common goal is to make Piraeus not just the largest port in the Mediterranean but of Europe,” he remarked and pointed to the opening of the offices of China Development Bank and ICBC, as well as a branch of the Bank of China.
Mitsotakis also said the two leaders pledged to increase the number of Chinese visitors to Greece to 500,000 in 2021 and discussed promoting educational cooperation programs and agreements between academic institutions.
“I expressed our appreciation for China's support when Greece was hit by the economic crisis. Now that our country is developing again, now that it is regaining a leading position, we will expand our common goals," he added.
The Greek premier announced that he will visit China in April to attend the China-CEEC 17+1 initiative.
On his side, the Chinese president said that his country is committed to the opening of its domestic market. "I believe that our cooperation can lead to a combination of our capabilities."
Xi and Mitsotakis will sign 16 agreements during this visit. Piraeus port is the biggest Chinese investment in Greece and Cosco recently received approval for a new investment plan that includes building a new cargo terminal.
Xi will also attend the opening of Bank of China’s first branch in the country.
The Chinese leader started his official visit by a customary laying of a wreath at the Monument to the Unknown Soldier on Syntagma square, where he was joined by Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias.
He was then welcomed at the Presidential Mansion by his Greek counterpart Prokopis Pavlopoulos, who visited China last May and noted that Xi’s visit “puts the seal” on bilateral relations.
“We will do our part to open China's road towards the EU,” he said, with Xi responding that he has “high expectations” for the future of Greek-Chinese relations.