Welcoming Chinese President Xi Jinping to Athens ahead of the signing of 16 bilateral deals Monday, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis described the two countries’ cooperation as a road that “will soon become a highway.”
During a joint press conference after their talks in Athens, Mitsotakis noted that Greece was turning into the “most vital” logistics hub linking Europe and the Far East and becoming the basic gateway for a transport corridor between China and Western Europe.
Xi, for his part, described China’s investment at the port of Piraeus as “the biggest project of the One Belt, One Road initiative,” referring to China’s plan for a modern Silk Road of railways, ports and other facilities linking East Asia with Europe.
“Now that our country is once again acquiring a leading role, we are broadening our common goals,” Mitsotakis said following his talks with Xi at the Maximos Mansion and shortly before ministers of the two countries signed the 16 deals.
Apart from expanding the presence of Chinese logistics giant Cosco at Piraeus, the agreements foresee boosting bilateral business deals, opening the Chinese market to certain Greek agricultural products including saffron and kiwi fruit, and the establishment in Athens of a Bank of China branch and a representative office of the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China.
Mitsotakis stressed that Greece has much to gain from the opening up of the Chinese market while emphasizing China’s role not just as a major power but as a country that worked hard to forge a leading role on the geostrategic, economic and political stage.
Earlier in the day, Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos heralded an “emblematic improvement in the strategic relationship between Greece and China” and said the Belt and Road initiative would function as a “bridge” between China and the West.
Greek and Chinese officials also signed a 17-point joint statement on “Strengthening the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership.” In it, they agreed to strengthen their cooperation in existing sectors while seeking to expand into the areas of agriculture and technology. It also underlines “the importance of Greece’s important role in promoting the EU-China partnership.”