Parliament President Nikos Voutsis analysed the prospects for deeper cooperation between Greece and China in an exclusive interview with Xinhua’s Maria Spiliopoulou and Liu Yongqiu, ahead of his five-day visit to China starting on Monday. The full interview, published by Xinhua on Sunday, is given below:
Greece is a bridge between Europe and China, and China-Greece cooperation could develop much faster and to a greater extent, Greek Parliament Speaker Nikos Voutsis told Xinhua in a recent interview.
The Greek official made the remarks before departing for an official five-day visit to China starting on Monday.
He will travel to Beijing and Shanghai to hold talks with Chinese officials on further strengthening bilateral relations.
“We have excellent relations as peoples and countries especially in recent years in the financial, trade sector. We believe we are a bridge between Europe and China for the economy, as well as for culture,” he told Xinhua.
In the context of the China-Greece strategic partnership as well as the Belt and Road Initiative, Greece and China have made significant progress in recent years in their cooperation in many sectors, but more could be achieved, Voutsis said.
“The course and the effort that Greece is making for its relations with China are not uninterrupted. There are some obstacles which are inherent in EU (European Union) rules and which on a number of occasions are enlarged in proportion to the ‘threat’ that some Europeans feel of China’s role,” he said.
“We know very well now which are the limits the EU allows in relationships that otherwise could develop much faster and to a greater extent,” he said.
Despite hurdles, the speaker conveyed the message that Greece is making every possible effort to exit the eight-year debt crisis and remain a pillar of stability in the region.
Regarding the Belt and Road project, the Greek official was upbeat.
“I am very optimistic, I was very optimistic that the entire Europe and especially the Balkans and our country would be open and supporting this major strategic plan, which concerns also other continents, so that there will be an agreement on the terms of trade, but also cultural products and people-to-people exchanges,” he said.
“I try to retain this optimism, not because there are clouds from the Greek or Chinese side, but because of what is happening on the wider map, like the looming possible trade wars. Who would have imagined that this could happen, but such issues arise between the big poles, the United States under Trump, the G7, Russia and the European Union,” he said.
Such developments create instability and uncertainty in the economy, and may delay or put cooperation projects at risk, Voutsis said, stressing that Greece supports efforts to resolve such issues.
“We are consolidating our relationship with the neighboring country, FYROM (Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia), through a deal that has a perspective and also helps to open the path for the Belt and Road also for trade. These moves are not coincidental,” he said, referring to the historic agreement which was signed on Sunday between Greece and the FYROM to end the long-standing Macedonia name dispute.
During his visit to Beijing and Shanghai this week, the Greek official said he will explore opportunities to strengthen bilateral friendship and collaboration in various fields.