by Maria Spilioupoulou, Liu Yongqiu, Chen Zhanjie
ATHENS, Aug. 21 (Xinhua) -- Recovering from the most severe economic crisis in decades, Greece today is in a better position than ever to become a valuable partner for China, said Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras.
In a recent exclusive written interview with Xinhua, the prime minster said Greece nowadays is considered an "island of stability" in a region that is experiencing a wave of destabilizing geo-political events.
In terms of both economics and politics, Greece has "greatly improved its credibility vis-a-vis the rest of the world, and it is now unleashing its growth potential," Samaras said.
"So yes, we are now in a much better position -- actually better than ever -- to become a valuable partner for China in our part of the world," he stressed.
The Greek-Chinese bilateral relations have been improving for many years, said the prime minister.
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang's successful visit to Athens and Crete in June and President Xi Jinping's trip to Rhodes in July boosted the China-Greece strategic partnership, which is established on cultural affinity, friendship, respect and the understanding that the two peoples have been walking down similar historical paths for millennia and have forged compatible identities, said Samaras.
This cultural and psychological background is essential for a positive bilateral relationship to evolve into a strategic one, the prime minister added.
Referring to the economic aspect of bilateral cooperation, Samaras said the Greek government will encourage Chinese involvement in all projects that can help develop Greece into a "gateway" between China and Europe.
"Greece is not just another partner for China. It can well become a strong 'link' between the European Union and China as well as a 'gateway' of commercial and cultural relations between China and Europe," he noted.
"We know that there are some problems for the improvement of commercial ties between China and Europe. But things are improving and as a European leader I am doing my best to help surpass all current problems and all outstanding obstacles between China and Europe," the Greek prime minister said, referring to a recent example of the "constructive role" Greece has played to bring the two sides closer.
A few months ago, with the contribution of Greece which held the Presidency of the European Union Council in the first half of 2014, a foreign trade conflict was avoided over the dispute about imposing anti-dumping measures on Chinese photovoltaic products.
"We strongly believe that Europe and China have a lot to gain by improving their commercial ties based on a balanced approach of honest negotiation and mutual benefits," he added.