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Athens News Agency: News in English, 06-01-20

Athens News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] PM Karamanlis says visit to Beijing a 'landmark in Greek-Chinese relations', after talks with President Hu Jintao
  • [02] Greece to host WTTC conference in Feb.

  • [01] PM Karamanlis says visit to Beijing a 'landmark in Greek-Chinese relations', after talks with President Hu Jintao

    Beijing (ANA-MPA/A. Panagopoulos) -- Greece's prime minister Costas Karamanlis on Friday described his visit to Beijing as a "landmark in Greek-Chinese relations", after a meeting with Chinese President Hu Jintao, which wound up his series of contacts in the Chinese capital.

    "You are an old friend of China, and place great importance on the development of bilateral relations. You see Chinese growth as an opportunity for Greece," Hu greeted Karamanlis upon arrival for their meeting, while the Greek prime minister responded that although the two countries differed greatly in size and population, their long histories and ancient civilizations were a common element.

    Hu also lauded the outcome of Karamanlis' meeting on Thursday with Chinese premier Wen Jiabao, during which the two premiers signed a Joint Declaration calling for the establishment of a Comprehensive Strategic Relationship between the two countries.

    Karamanlis, accompanied by foreign minister Petros Molyviatis, minister of state and government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos, deputy foreign minister Evripides Stylianidis, and a large business delegation, arrived in Beijing on Thursday on a three-day official visit considered important from both a political and economic viewpoint.

    He met later with premier of China's state council Wen Jiabao, with whom he reviewed the course of bilateral relations, after which they signed the Joint Declaration on establishing a Greece-China Comprehensive Strategic Relationship, as well as several other memoranda in the economic and business sector.

    After his talks with the Chinese President, Karamanlis said "we ascertained that the present excellent relations between our two countries are based on a strong foundation, which we should utilise, and on mutual deep respect for the history and civilistion of the two peoples".

    He said that they reviewed bilateral relations, and noted the "prospects for further strengthening of our cooperation at all levels, and chiefly in the sectors of business, commerce, merchant shipping and tourism".

    Turning to political matters, Karamanlis stressed that the two countries were working closely in the UN Security Council, adding that they had identity of views on many issues.

    Regarding the Cyprus issue, Karamanlis expressed appreciation for the Chinese President's stance.

    Karamanlis further reiterated the Greek positions on matters of concern to China.

    "Regarding the issue of Taiwan, I reaffirmed our firm position in favour of the one-China principle and our antithesis to the independence of Taiwan," he said.

    On the question of lifting the EU arms embargo on China (which was imposed after the 1989 massacre of student activists in Tienanmen Square), Karamanlis expressed the Greek government's positive view, but noted that the embargo was slated to be lifted when the work on specific elements of the code of conduct (a strengthened code of conduct on all EU arms sales that would replace the ban) was completed.

    Karamanlis further endorsed a Chinese request that the EU extend "market economy" status to China, adding that he had expressed his understanding, but had also stressed that "for this purpose, under EU legislation, required is the fulfilment of certain technical matters and a relevant proposal of the European Commission".

    He said that the Greek government supported the relevant dialogue and would actively contribute to the prospect of granting China "free market" status as early as possible.

    According to diplomatic sources, Hu placed particular emphasis on maritime issues during his talks with Karamanlis, while with respect to tourism matters, he told the Greek premier that he encourages Chinese to travel to Greece.

    Karamanlis also referred to Greek agricultural products, particularly olive oil, as well as the prospects for strengthening bilateral relations in the cultural sector as well, taking advantage of the organisation of the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.

    In addition to promoting Greek agricultural products -- such as olive oil -- on the vast Chinese market and cooperation in the sector of construction and knowhow, the Greek government is also interested in attracting Chinese investments to Greece, as the country is strategically placed to serve as a springboard for Chinese entrepreneurs to Europe and the wider Balkan region.

    In his talks with Wen on Thursday, Karamanlis also discussed cooperation in the shipping sector, tourism and further boosting cooperation linked to China's preparations for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, while a Memorandum was signed for the organisation of a "Cultural Year of Greece" in China in 2008.

    Karamanlis also met Thursday met with the president of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games Organising Committee (BOCOG) Liu Qi, who is also secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Beijing Municipal Committee, a member of the CPC Central Committee Politburo and former mayor of Bejing (1999-2002).

    The Greek prime minister was slated to leave later in the day for Shanghai, where he would address a Chinese-Greek business conference on Saturday.

    [02] Greece to host WTTC conference in Feb.

    WASHINGTON (ANA/MPA - T. Ellis) - Greece's Tourism Development Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos predicted a rise in tourism to Greece, following the country's organisation of the safe and successful Athens 2004 Olympic Games, while addressing a round-table discussion on tourism developments worldwide organised in Washington on Thursday by the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC).

    During the discussion, Avramopoulos expounded on the increase of tourism to Greece following the successful and safe hosting of the Athens 2004 Olympic Games.

    At a press conference that followed the meeting, Avramopoulos announced that Athens will host a special meeting of the WTTC on February 18, while it was also announced that the WTTC's 6th Global Travel and Tourism Summit would be hosted in Washington from April 10-12, with the theme "Open Mind-Open World".

    Avramopoulos underlined the post-Olympic Games performances of Greek tourism, noting that tourism was one of the sectors of the Greek economy that had benefitted most from the successful 2004 Games, and adding that Greece has upgraded its image internationally.

    Replying to questions at the same press conference, J.W. Marriott Jr., Chairman and CEO of Marriott International, said that following the success of the Athens Games, his company was seeking new locations for investments in Greece.

    Avramopoulos said that given Marriott's deep knowledge and expertise in the sector, his statement was of great importance for Greek tourism and, by extention, the Greek economy, since the major hotel chains usually follow their competitors when they expand into specific markets.

    Taking part in the round-table discussion on global tourism developments, in addition to Avramopoulos and Marriott, were Washington mayor Anthony Williams, WTTC president Jean-Claude Baumgarten, and WTTC chairman and chairman emeritus of Carey International Vincent Wolfington, among others.

    Avramopoulos spoke of the role of tourism diplomacy and the importance of tourism not only as a significant source of revenue and empolyment, but also as a driving force of social upgrading and cultural mutual understanding globally. He congratulated the "visionary" mayor of Washington, Anthony Williams, on Washington's selection to host the April WTTC global summit, the first summit to take place in a US city.

    Williams lauded Avramopoulos as a true leader, noting their friendship dated back to Avramopoulos' term as mayor of Athens, calling him the "Mayor of Mayors".

    In a televised interview with Reuters news agency later, and questioned on the lessons learnt from the successful hosting of the Olympic Games in Athens, Avramopoulos replied that Greece has modernised itself and has proven that it is a safe destination, a fact that has been acknowledged by the US, from which a significant rise in tourists to Greece is forecast this year.

    Asked whether he was concerned about the repercussions in the wider region from the outbreak of deadly bird flu cases in neighbouring Turkey, Avarmopoulos replied that the whole world was worried and that confrontation of this problem, as well as other global phenomena such as terrorism, required international cooperation and solidarity. He added that Greece was vigilant and was implementing strict legislation.

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