Greece and China aim to further promote the friendly ties and the strategic partnership between the two nations through a Chinese- Greek Cities Forum which is to be launched in Athens on Nov. 11, Greek officials and Chinese Ambassador to Greece Zou Xiaoli told a press conference here on Wednesday.
The first session of the new platform will take place in Zappeion Exhibition hall, a historic venue at the heart of the Greek capital, bringing together a delegation of at least 70 representatives from four Chinese provinces and 14 cities with more than 160 Greek mayors, regional governors and other officials.
During the one-day event, which is a major event for local exchanges since the establishment of diplomatic relations between Greece and China 44 years ago, as stressed during the press briefing, the two sides will explore the potential of enhancing bilateral cooperation in many sectors via the local level.
The forum’s theme will be the prospects of Sino-Greek collaboration on local governments level in the framework of the Belt and Road initiative.
“The Belt and Road initiative provides a golden opportunity for China and Greece, two great ancient nations, to join hands in promoting the progress of human civilizations, while achieving common development and prosperity of ourselves. This is the essence of China-Greece comprehensive strategic partnership,” Zou said during the press conference, which was held at the main hall of ceremonies of the historic building of the Athens National Kapodistrian University.
“I hope that the Chinese-Greek Cities Forum on Nov. 11 under the auspices of the ministry and the embassy, under the theme of enhancing cooperation at local level for the Belt and Road initiative, will be an important step forward in achieving this common goal,” the ambassador added.
The forum is co-organized by the Amphictyony of Ancient Greek Cities and the Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries under the auspices of the Greek Ministry of Interior and the Chinese Embassy in Greece.
“(Sino-Greek cooperation) expands to the level of the local government. It is a level which can play a very important role in the overall development of both countries,” Greek Interior Minister Panagiotis Kouroumblis stressed addressing the press conference.
“Cultural collaboration can facilitate the strengthening of ties between the two people. In this sense we are launching the initiative of the Greek Amphictyony with the Chinese Amphictyony,” Kouroumblis explained to Xinhua.
President of the Amphictyony of Ancient Greek Cities and Mayor of Marathon Ilias Psinakis noted that in antiquity the Amphictyony institution (Alliance between cities) promoted peace and prosperity in ancient Greece.
By reviving the platform and expanding it to China, the goal is to engage local authorities and communities, businessmen and cultural and educational institutes in widening bilateral win-win collaboration.
Psinakis praised the Belt and Road initiative launched three years ago by Chinese President Xi Jinping as a vision which can help in the prosperity of all countries involved and safeguarding peace.
“When the two ancient civilizations come together everything else follows — cooperation in business, tourism, sports, education, technology …” Psinakis said.
On behalf of the academic society which is also supporting the new initiative, Athanassios Dimopoulos, Rector of the Athens National Kapodistrian University, expressed hope that the upcoming forum will help to boost people-to-people exchanges between students and teachers of Greek and Chinese universities.
“I hope that next year, during 2017 which will also be the Greece-China Year of Cultural Exchanges Cooperation in all levels, education will also hold a significant role,” the rector told Xinhua.