Unity, cooperation highlight China, Greece’s cultural DNA: Greek ambassador to China

BEIJING — Greek ambassador to China Georgios Iliopoulos has expressed his hope to strengthen cooperation with China in various fields under the China-CEEC cooperation mechanism.

“The China-Central and Eastern European Countries (CEEC) Summit is useful in promoting multilateral cooperation, as we now confront not only the pandemic itself but also its consequences in our economies and societies,” Iliopoulos said in a recent text-based interview.

The China-CEEC Summit was held via video link on Tuesday. The summit released the 2021 Cooperation between China and CEEC Beijing List of Activities and the Outcome List of China-CEEC Summit, in which many activities and business cooperation documents concern Greece.

“The summit has confirmed the importance of the goal of common growth with benefits shared by all,” said Iliopoulos, adding that inclusiveness, consultation and transparency were also reaffirmed as important tenets of China-CEEC cooperation.

In 2019, Greece joined the China-CEEC cooperation mechanism and became its 18th member country. Given Greece’s extensive institutional experience in the integration of the region into Europe and EU policies, Iliopoulos believed that it has the potential to contribute to streamlining and enriching the agenda of the China-CEEC cooperation.

According to the List of Activities released at the summit, Greece will host this year the 6th China-CEEC high-level conference on tourism cooperation and the 3rd China-CEEC experts’ forum on intangible cultural heritage protection.

“This is a testimony of our will to engage in the China-CEEC cooperation mechanism in a constructive and effective manner,” Iliopoulos said.

Fighting the pandemic in unity was one of the focuses of the summit. Last February, Iliopoulos uttered his support for China’s fight against COVID-19. When Greece was under attack by the pandemic, China also provided timely assistance, including providing and donating medical supplies. The two countries also shared information and exchanged scientific data.

“This cooperation has demonstrated that we can all work together more effectively in fighting the pandemic on all fronts,” he said.

He noted that both Greece and China have achieved positive results in the fight against COVID-19 thanks to a shared sense of unity, mobilization of the two countries’ collective wisdom, the spirit of survival and the importance attached to the protection of the lives of others and the respect for vulnerable groups.

“These cultural traits are somehow registered in our ‘cultural DNA’ and have greatly assisted both our societies and countries to defend against the dangers of this crisis,” Iliopoulos said.

Talking about regional and global economic recovery after the pandemic, the ambassador said that a comprehensive approach, through multilateral cooperation patterns, is needed in the efforts to pave the way forward and spur growth.

“This should include measures on many fronts, such as supporting trade, SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises), digitization, start-ups and the re-growth of service sector such as tourism,” he said, adding that economic recovery is achievable by coordinating policies wherever this may be possible, enabling synergies and partnerships, based on level playing field rules, reciprocity, fairness and market openness, with adherence to international and EU Law.

For future cooperation with China, the ambassador expressed his hope to export higher volumes of tradable goods from the primary sector of the Greek economy, such as quality agri-food products to China.

Noting that 2021 is the “Greece-China Year of Culture and Tourism,” Iliopoulos uttered his hope to see more Chinese investments in both the primary and the secondary sectors, as well as to enhance relations in tourism, education, innovation research, start-ups, and the field of culture and creative industries and audio and visual productions.

“Greece, being an important pillar of peace, security, stability and prosperity in its region, is looking today forward to ever closer and stronger ties with China,” he said.