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Greek FM praises China's role on international issues
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China has achieved remarkable progress over the past 60 years and is now a major player on the international arena, said Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis in an interview with Xinhua before China celebrates its 60th anniversary on Oct.1.

She said that China, a permanent member of the UN Security Council, is emerging today as a leading global power, ready to assume a key role on the international arena.

"I would like to congratulate the people of China and their leadership on their tireless efforts, which have rendered China a major player and factor for stability in the world economic and political system," said Bakoyannis.

When talking about China's peaceful emergence, the Greek foreign minister said "Greece acknowledges China's important role for stability and development both in Asia and on the international stage."

She said this opinion was confirmed beyond doubt by the hosting of the Olympic Games about a year ago, with widely acclaimed success.

The sensible attitude the Chinese government has displayed towards the current global financial crisis is also a proof of responsibility for a major global player like China, she said.

"It is my strong belief that, in the globalized era, any crisis can be confronted only through coordinated global action," she added, "We should all try to fulfill our obligations and recognize our responsibilities."

"China's role has been proven to be a leading one in this process, as it has already urged the international community to jointly deal with the crisis and to ensure financial stability."

She said the economic growth of China, as one of the largest economies in the world, is important to the tackling of the global financial crisis.

Bakoyannis said that as a member of the EU and the Eurozone, Greece can contribute to the expansion of EU-Chinese relations and Greece is willing to facilitate the effort to acknowledge and promote the importance of China as a key partner and factor for global stability.

Speaking of the handover of the administration of Piraeus Port soon, Bakoyannis said "I consider Cosco's participation in the administration of Piraeus Port to be of utmost importance for both economies."

Greece's parliament in March approved a 35-year deal with Chinese transport operator Cosco to run facilities at the country's main port of Piraeus.

Bakoyannis said Piraeus Port, thanks to its geographical position, can become an important hub for Chinese goods heading to the markets of EU states and to the broader region of Southeastern Europe and the Eastern Mediterranean.

Goods from Asia can be loaded on large container ships and then be offloaded at Greek ports to smaller vessels, in order to be transported to the surrounding countries, she added.

On the other hand, she said, the gains for the Greek Economy are also considerable, as the agreement will bring Greece 4.3 billion euros (roughly 6.02 billion U.S. dollars) over a 35-year period and about 1,000 new jobs will be created. What's more, Cosco's investment in Piraeus port will increase its capacity by up to 250 percent.

Bakoyannis said that apart from the multifaceted bilateral cooperation with China, it is essential to further promote cultural cooperation.

"We are certain that the hosting by Beijing of the Cultural Year of Greece in China has significantly contributed to this end, since it provided the Chinese people with the opportunity to familiarize themselves with Greek culture and civilization," said the minister.

Bakoyannis said that the opening of the first Confucius Institute at the Athens University of Economics and Business also marked the continuation of the combined efforts and determination to enhance bilateral cooperation in the cultural domain.

(Xinhua News Agency September 28, 2009)

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