Merchant Marine & Island Policy Minister Anastasis Papaligouras was also on hand for the signing ceremony.
The agreement envisages a loan of 55 million euros for the completion of the project as well as the procurement and supply equipment. A previous EIB contract funneled 35 million euros to the Piraeus Port Authority for a project to increase volume at the container port in Pier 2.
"Our son, Iason Athanasiadis, has been detained in Iran while working as a journalist, and the Greek foreign ministry has been making efforts to secure his release, for which we are deeply grateful. Iason is a dedicated reporter, photographer and filmmaker who grew up in Greece and regards himself as Greek," a statement by Athanasiadis' parents, Polymnia and Georgios, read.
"Iason has always maintained his integrity as an independent journalist who sells articles, photographs and film to outlets in many parts of the world. His work serves no purpose other than the fair and humane coverage of life in the many countries where he has worked," the statement added, emphasising the fact that Athanasiadis is only a Greek citizen, contrary to press claims by some media referring to him as either a British or US dual national.
Both parents also noted that the prolific Greek journalist also retains a "particular love of Iran, and a deep respect for its cultural and religious traditions".
Varvitsiotis referred to the difficulties faced by the Greek farm exports, pointing out that "the removal of trade barriers and the simplification of import procedures for agricultural produce would give Chinese consumers the possibility to gain access to internationally renowned and high-quality Greek farm products."
He also raised commercial transactions issues focusing on the protection of industrial property, country-of-manufacture labelling, and trademarks of Greek enterprises active in China, noting that "we are looking forward to the active contribution of competent state authorities in China."
Varvitsiotis underlined that "while the bilateral institutional framework is constantly growing stronger, bilateral economic cooperation does not reflect the true potential of the two countries. Specifically, in 2008 PRC was in 4th place in terms of imports into Greece, but ranks 32nd as a destination for Greek exports.
The bilateral volume of trade has increased steadily in recent years, reaching 5.03 billion USD in 2008. However, this steady increase is due mainly to imports from China (4.8 billion USD in 2008), while Greek exports to China in 2008 totalled only 153 million USD.
"The development of commercial transactions between the two countries - with Greece's trade deficit with China increasing fast - is an issue that needs to be addressed by both sides, given that it bears directly on the course of our commercial relations," the Greek minister said.
He also underlined that "the most significant Chinese investment is undoubtedly the agreement signed between Cosco and the Piraeus Port Authority for development and exploitation of the Piraeus container terminal."
Additionally, the Greek side thanked the Chinese government for its stance regarding the participation of fYRoM in the 2010 Shanghai World Fair, while the Chinese official confirmed that his government supports UN mediation efforts and will adopt a mutually acceptable solution that will result.
Following a working luncheon hosted by Varvitsiotis the 16-member Chinese delegation visited the New Acropolis Museum.