Kotzias meets China’s VP, senior officials on second day of Beijing visit

Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias was warmly welcomed in his meetings with China’s 10th Vice-President Wang Qishan and the director of the Central Foreign Affairs Commission Office Yang Jiechi in Beijing during the second day of his official visit to China on Tuesday, according to diplomatic sources.

They noted that the meeting with the vice president was indicative of the warm reception for Kotzias, since it was not usual for the vice-president to meet the ministers of foreign governments. Wang Qishan noted the cooperation between Greece and China and his satisfaction at the good level of bilateral relations, saying that there will be more visits that will help to further promote Greek-Chinese cooperation.

His talks in the meeting with Yang Jiechi, held immediately afterward, focused on global and regional developments and the role of each country in promoting stability and cooperation, as well as EU-China relations.

The Greek minister outlined initiatives taken by Greece in recent years and how these had a stabilising effect on developments in the southeast Mediterranean and the Balkans. He noted that Greece, as the biggest country in the Balkan Peninsula, has the greatest responsibility to promote stability and the European prospects of the entire region, for the benefit of its peoples and the EU.

In this context, Kotzias referred to efforts underway to resolve the name dispute with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), noting that Greece’s recent exit from memorandum programmes made this a favourable time, the sources said. He also stressed that China’s One Belt, One Road (OBOR) initiative had an important and productive role to play, both in the Balkans and Central Europe, and noted that “Greece is a natural bridge between China and Europe and, through its active involvement in the OBOR venture, will work for further rapprochement between China and the EU.”

Kotzias also analysed developments in the Cyprus issue, welcoming the Chinese government’s position in favour of the national sovereignty and territorial integrity of Cyprus.

Yang Jiechi, on his part, highlighted the importance that China attaches to Greece in the context of bilateral cooperation and as a link between Europe, China and Asia in general. He referred to possible EU-China cooperation in the future and thanked Greece for its assistance in the evacuation of Chinese citizens from Libya in 2011.

Kotzias ended his visit to Beijing by meeting the head OF the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) Xie Fuzhan and members of the faculty, examining ways to establish more systematic cooperation between the countries in research. The Greek foreign ministry and CASS also signed a memorandum of understanding for the promotion of cooperation between Greek and Chinese think tanks.

He then delivered a speech on “Greece and China: Past and Future, differences and commonalities” before attending a round table with members of China’s academia to discuss issues of international interest.

As part of his official visit, Kotzias will now travel to Shanghai for meetings with the mayor and local officials.