Greece offers major comparative advantages as a trade hub and tourism destination, both through its geostrategic position and through its cultural heritage and natural beauty, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis noted in an interview with the Chinese network CGTN on Tuesday.
"Greece is 'open for business'. We are attracting Chinese, European, American and Japanese investments. I would like, however, to point out that the Chinese invested in the port of Piraeus when few other countries were considering direct investments in Greece's infrastructure. This is, therefore, a project that will move forward. This is a commitment that we have made and I sincerely believe it is a win-win project for all involved," Mitsotakis said.
The Greek prime minister pointed out that ships carrying goods from Asia to Europe could save between seven and 10 days if they sailed to the port of Piraeus, which was a natural gateway for goods, instead of the ports of northern Europe. He also stressed that Greece's ultimate goal is to make Piraeus the biggest port in Europe and that the Greek government has approved a new cycle of investments in two months that will significantly upgrade the port.
Mitsotakis noted the government's determination to make the maximum use of actions to open up the massive Chinese market to Greek goods, in a bid to boost growth through exports. He said that Greece wants to increase its footprint in the agri-food products market, through its high-quality wines, cheeses and olive oil, at a time when a growing Chinese middle class is exploring new gastronomic sensations.
"It is our intention to make our presence felt in China," Mitsotakis said, noting that Greek products could benefit from the EU-China agreement for protecting geographic origin indication products, such as feta cheese.
With respect to tourism, the Greek premier repeated that Greece's goal was to attract 500,000 Chinese tourists by 2021. He pointed out that Greece was the first country on the route from China to Europe, while its rich history offered a unique experience for visitors. "If you are Chinese and come to Europe, you must come to Greece," Mitsotakis said, while highlighting the "cultural connection" between two ancient civilisations that had both had a profound impact on the world, like those of Greece and China.
He said that Greece has a strategy for boosting cultural exchanges and tourism, with 2021 to be a Year of Culture and Tourism.
Referring to the introduction of a second direct flight between Greece and China, from Shanghai to Athens, Mitsotakis said the Greek side hoped to see even more direct air connections and greater promotion of Greek services in major electronic travel platforms, as well as referring to Greece's desire to attract Chinese audiovisual productions to Greece, to help the broader Chinese public understand "what Greece means."