China and Greece, two ancient civilizations, signed their very first joint declaration yesterday to establish a "comprehensive strategic partnership," making new commitments to further consolidating bilateral ties.
"This demonstrates that Sino-Greek relations have entered a new development stage and are expecting further achievements," said Premier Wen Jiabao while meeting with his Greek counterpart Costas Karamanlis yesterday in Beijing.
The two leaders sealed the strategic pact after a one-hour closed door meeting and witnessed the signing of another four accords aimed at opening more paths for trade, investment and cultural co-operation.
Among the agreements was one featuring co-operation among small and medium size enterprises from both countries, which is believed to have set out a framework for bilateral economic co-operation.
Accompanied by senior officials including foreign minister, minister of state and 31 businessmen, Karamanlis arrived in Beijing yesterday morning for a three-day visit.
He will visit Shanghai tomorrow, where he will address a large delegation of people involved in business and finance.
The ongoing co-operation between Greece and China ahead of the 2008 Olympics in Beijing has made the two countries feel much closer.
Karamanlis told reporters before starting his China trip that his government would provide assistance in every possible way to make the Beijing Olympic Games a success.
He repeated the promise to his Chinese counterpart yesterday, saying the Beijing Games will be outstanding in all aspects and better reflect the Olympic Spirit as the two countries will conduct various kinds of co-operation in this regard.
Soon after Karamanlis touched down, he held discussions with Liu Qi, secretary of the Beijing Municipal Committee of the Communist Party of China and president of the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Games of the XXIX Olympiad.
According to the joint declaration, the two countries are committed to furthering co-operation in harbour administration and shipping industry.
Greek officials are expected to meet with the Chinese marine transportation authorities today to examine the possibility of creating hubs in Greece for Chinese exports that are making their way to Europe.
The two countries are also keen to increase the flow of tourists and are considering opening up direct flights between Beijing to Athens.
The co-signed treaty of "comprehensive strategic partnership" also concerned topics ranging from promoting Greek agricultural products, including items such as olive oil and oranges, to the launching of "Greek Cultural Year" in Beijing in 2008.
According to a Greek media poll, Greeks on the whole feel positive about moves to create a closer relationship with Beijing.