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PM Tsipras Tells China Greece is a Bridge Between West and East

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras described Greece as a “bridge,” and not a border, between the West and the East at his address to the “Belt and Road Initiative” forum in Beijing on Friday.
The three-day forum, in which thirty-seven world leaders are participating, is meant to promote Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s “Project of the century.” This is a foreign policy initiative launched in 2013 to revive ancient trading routes between Asia and Europe, as well as build new links in the Middle East, Africa, and South America.
“For Greece it is clear that the aims of the modern Silk Road [initiative] are compatible with the regional economic goals that we have set and that we want to pursue, leaving behind the reliance and dependence on our creditors,” Tsipras said. The Greek premier added that “Cooperation and an outward-looking focus are the future.”
The Greek premier noted that Greece is exploiting its unique geopolitical location at the juncture of three continents, as well as its role as a force with global influence in shipping and tourism.
“We want our neighborhood, the southeast Mediterranean and the Balkans, not to be the border between West and East, but the bridge,” he said, adding that the goal was for the region to become a “global hub for transport, energy and trade.”
Tsipras pointed to the investment by Chinese logistics giant Cosco in Greece’s largest port of Piraeus, saying that this would play a key role in the cooperative effort.
“The port is developing into a global gateway to Europe for products coming from Chinese and Asian ports via the Suez Canal,” he said. He then stated that the goal was for the port to be linked to transport networks toward the Balkans and eastern Europe.
Hailing the “new role” that Greece has assumed in the region, Tsipras said the country aimed to help boost ties between China and the European Union “in the context of international regulations governing trade and our commitments as a member of the EU.”
Later on Friday, Tsipras is to have meetings at the summit with Chinese President Xi JinPing and other top government officials.
Also Greek and Chinese officials are to sign a three-year memorandum of cooperation in key sectors including transport, energy and finance.

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