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Athens News Agency: News in English, 08-06-24
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From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 Boosting Greece-China economic relationsFurther enhancement of economic relations between Greece and China was the main thrust of talks on Tuesday, the second day of Greek President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias' state visit to China.
Papoulias began on Monday afternoon an official visit to China designed to strengthen bilateral relations in the financial and investment sectors, and a memorandum of bilateral cooperation was signed after a meeting between Papoulias and his host, Chinese President Hu Jintao.
The Greek President also attended the closing session of the Greek Chinese Business Forum at a central Beijing hotel on Tuesday.
According to Chinese media reports, Hu proposed to Papoulias a four-point plan for strengthening bilateral relations, founded on frequent contact between the leaders of the two countries and cooperation between their governments, as well as mutual understanding and agreement on matters of common interest.
President Hu proposed that emphasis be placed on collaborations among small and medium size enterprises of the two countries, and boosting commercial transactions and and bilatera economic cooperation, particularly in the sector of investments and in the shipbuilding industry.
Hu further called for increased cultural exchanges, and proposed that Greece take part, as the Country of Honor, in the Beijing International Book Fair (in September 2008), while he also invited Greece to maintain communication and cooperation with China on international issues such as climate change, environmental protection and sustainable development.
Greek deputy foreign minister Petros Doukas, who is accompanying Papoulias on his China trip. spoke along the same lines in his addres to the Business Forum, at which he highlighted the Greek economy's progress and its growth rates, citing the economic reforms, and stressing the need to increase Chinese investments in Greece and widening the bilateral trade balance, and closing the gap which is at Greece's expense,
Doukas further noted that Papoulias' visit to China will contribute to the two countries getting to better know each other and further strengthen their already excellent reations.
He said the visit was also an afirmation of the impressive potential of those relations and of the bilateral cooperation in recent years, the landmark of which was Greek prime minister Costas Karamanlis' visit to Beijing in January 2006 and the signing of a joint declaration of a comprehensive strategic partnership between Greece and China.
Turning to the global economic crisis and skyrocketing prices of raw materials, fuels and foods, he said these were phenomena that were putting social cohesion to the test in all countries, as they particularly impacted the socially weaker strata.
Doukas noted the burning problems resulting from the petrol crisis, and the repercussions arising from climate change, and stressed the need for cooperation among everyone to face them.
The deputy minister further recalled that Greece has proposed, at international organisations, the design and materialisation of a mass tree planting program of at least 50 billion trees by the year 2009.
Inviting more Chinese entrepreneurs to invest in Greece, Doukas outlined Greece's advantages as the only Balkan and SE Europe country that was a member of the EU, NATO and the EU's European Monetary Union (EMU), stressing that "we want you to feel Greece as your own country as regards closer cooperation with the EU", and consider it a country that can serve as the springboard for China's expansion to the wider regio of Europe, the Eastern Mediterranean and North Africa.
He underlined that that Greece boasts a strong business presence in the Balkans, while it was also an energy hub, noting the oil and natural gas pipelines in which Greece was a partner, as well as the country's infrastructures and ports.
Doukas also highlighted the investment opportunities on the Athens Stock Exchange (ASE), adding that Athens encouraged Chinese investments in the Greek ports: "We are pleased with Cosco's designation as temporary preferred bidder for the management of the container terminal at the port of Piraeus, adding that significant prospects for Greek-Chinese cooperation were opening up in the fields of alternative forms of energy and high technology.
Earlier on Tuesday morning (Beijing time), Papoulias laid a wreath at the Monument to the People's Heroes in the Gate of Heavenly Peace (Tiananmen) Square, followed by a tour of the Olympic installations that will host the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Papoulias was the first foreign leader to be given a tour of the impressive installations, which are nearing completion.
Greek employment minister Fani Palli-Petralia, who is also accompanying Papoulias, also addressed the Business Forum and recalled her cooperation with the Chinese side for the Athens 2004 Olympics, whose portfolio as minister of culture at the time also included the Athens Olympics, and the memorandum of cooperation she signed for the transport of the Olympic Flame to Beijing and for transfer of knowhow.
"After the 2004 Games, we built an Olympics bridge, the first bridge between our two countries, which has become a very solid one," Petralia said.
She also recalled that, as minister of tourism in the past, she had agreed with Beijing for an increase in Chinese tourists to Greece, noting that although Greece and China, as countries, differed in size, they were nevertheless "sister countries".
Petralia further expressed certainty that the Beijing Olympiad would be unique, and would marke a new beginning for China and afford it the opportunity to open up a window to the world that would enable it to show the soul of every Chinese citizen.
"We raised the standard very high and organised a dream Olympiad in 2004," Petralia said, and wished to the Chinese to outdo the Athens Olympics.
On Tuesday afternoon, President Papoulias is scheduled to meet separately with Chinese prime minister Wen Jiabao and chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC, China's unicameral legislative house, or parliament) Wu Bangguo, while in the evening he will inaugurate an exhibition of paintings by Mina Papatheodorou-Valyraki titled "Body and Mind", in the framework of the Cultural Year of Greece in China (September 2007-September 2008).
Papoulias is due to depart for Shanghai on Wednesday.
Caption: Greek president of the Republic Karolos Papoulias (L) and Chinese President Hu Jintao(R) in Beijing on Monday 23 June 2008.ANA-MPA/NIKOS ARVANITIDIS
 Athens Newspaper HeadlinesThe Tuesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance
Investigations in the Siemens affair and former prime minister Costas Simitis' economic advisor and Minister of State Theodoros Tsoukatos' expected testimony on Tuesday before the prosecutor, the bloody clash between hashish growers and police in Heraklion, Crete and the significant drop on Athens Stock Exchange (ASE) dominated the headlines on Tuesday in Athens' Newspapers.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Two speed pensions! 15-20 insured years bring better income than 35 years!
APOGEVMATINI: "Crowds of witnesses and suspects outside the prosecutor's door in the Siemens scandal".
AVGHI: "(Ruling party) New Democracy and (main opposition) PASOK party sinking - New decline in their percentages due to Siemens affair".
AVRIANI: "Close friend of (PASOK leader George) Papandreou testified before the examining magistrate".
CHORA: "7 files that burn - The Siemens bribery list".
ELEFTHERI ORA: "(FYROM prime minister Nikola) Gruevski attempts to pass the ball of blame on Greece for failure of finding a solution on the name issue - FYROM remains solid in its positions".
ELEFTHEROS: "PASOK's dirty laundry being aired - Shocking revelations on the crooks that manipulated the accounts and grew rich".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Security the major benefit.. The massacre on Crete and the happy end to the Mylonas abduction reopen the crucial issue".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "One more transaction from Siemens' black funds brought to light".
ESTIA: "Simitis on corruption " I don't accept lessons in moral sensitivity".
ETHNOS: "New bombs explode in Siemens case - Non-stop witnesses and suspects parade before the prosecutor's office".
KATHIMERINI: "Prosecutors from the European Union arrive in Athens for the case of the 6 frigates - Suspicious transactions to Swiss banks between 2003-2005".
LOGOS: "The Siemens investigations at a turning point - Tsoukatos on Tuesday before the prosecutor".
NIKI: "ND's party offices knew the results of the university entry exams - New leakage scandal in the Education Ministry".
RIZOSPASTIS: "The rotten political system must be reversed by the people - Siemens case and the scenarios on the renewal of the bourgeois system".
TA NEA: "PASOK: Tsoukatos is responsible for everything - The money did not go into PASOK's coffers".
TO VIMA: "SIEMENS summer - The succession rumors and the deadlines - PASOK and ND in 'wait and see' mode for new revelations".
VRADYNI: "The 'general's' (Tsoukatos) army - SIEMENS: 7 'friends' - 7 accounts - Prosecutor hot on the heels of the green (PASOK party color) minister in search of the 1 million deutschemarks".
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