As China’s presence on the international stage grows, it can rely on its ‘strategic partnership’ with Greece, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras tells Chinese President Xi Jinping on Rhodes
Workers arrange a flower decoration with a Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy flag (File photo: Reuters) Crete could serve as a regional node for the support, maintenance and repair of the Chinese Navy and the possibility exists for joint naval operations between Greece and China’s People’s Liberation Army Navy, the prime minister told the visiting Chinese president on Rhodes on Sunday.
“On Crete there is all the appropriate infrastructure for refuelling, maintenance and repairs for all your country’s navy units. There is a possibility of cooperation, for example, in joint patrols of war ships. And another example, in the area of fighting piracy, where the interests of our two peoples coincide,” Antonis Samaras told Xi Jinping.
Crete is also home to a Nato miltary and navy base at Souda bay.
“I also want to say that I believe deeply in our relations of strategic partnership that will constantly expand, as your country’s presence at the forefront of the international stage also grows,” Samaras added.
The two leaders met at the Palace of the Grand Master of the Knights of Rhodes and later took a stroll through the streets of the island’s Old Town, during which the Chinese leader noted that his country is keen to build its relations with Greece.
“We want to make joint efforts, with the Greek side, to launch a new era in our bilateral relations in terms of the overall strategic partnership relations of Greece and China,” he said.
“Greece and China have a natural friendship and there are naturally very close feelings between them. We can say that Greece is the friendliest and most reliable country in Europe for China.”
Samaras highlighted the ancient cultures and the values of both countries, saying these had been the cornerstones for civilisation. He claimed that “the problems of the current global conjuncture might perhaps have been avoided if the values and principles of our cultures – of justice, moderation, harmony and altruism – had prevailed.”
Samaras expressed Greece’s deep appreciation of China and the Chinese people, noting that in truly difficult times – such as the recent crisis in Greece and the Eurozone – China’s leadership had displayed friendship, responsibility and supported Greece’s efforts to exit the crisis. This was yet another proof of China’s constructive role in the global system for stability and peace, he said.
Xi had earlier met President Karolos Papoulias and discussed ways of expanding cooperation between the two countries, especially in tourism. Papoulias noted that the island of Rhodes was the “flagship” of Greece’s tourism industry and said that this was an area of prospective cooperation that he considered especially important, since it allowed people from both countries to meet and get to know each other better.
“I would like to say that I personally would very much like to become a volunteer for promoting Greece’s tourism in China. I want very much to use this opportunity and my time on Rhodes to enjoy your tourism,” the Chinese president replied.