Greece is 'gateway for China'
Updated: 2012-06-15 09:09
By Fu Jing in Athens and Huang Ying in Beijing (China Daily)
Athens belongs to eurozone, Greek parliament speaker says
Greece must stay in the eurozone and maintain close ties with China to overcome the debt crisis, Greek parliament speaker Vyron Polydoras said.
"We would like to implement policies along with other pro-European parties to escape from the recession," the speaker, who was born in 1947, said.
"And of course, Greece will still work as a gateway into Europe for China."
The Greeks go to the polls on Sunday in a crucial general election.
"My party, New Democracy, would obviously like to win or have a key role in the parliament following the election," Polydoras said.
Reforms are urgently needed, and Greece must encourage the private sector and welcome international investors, he said.
"We welcome investment from China at this difficult time," said Polydoras, whose daughter Margarita is learning Chinese.
Polydoras said that his daughter learning Chinese is clear evidence of his commitment to boosting ties between the two countries. "It's a small world. China is a global power and that is why my daughter is learning Chinese."
He said investment from the COSCO Group, the Chinese shipping giant, is an example but "that is only the beginning".
"We may have further investment in tourism, imports, exports and financing," Polydoras said.
COSCO started operating the Greek port of Piraeus in 2010, and Salonika, another port, may be of interest to Chinese investors, he said.
He also said that Greece welcomes Chinese tourists and wants to export agricultural products to China.
He admitted that the safety of investments and bureaucracy pose serious challenges. A large influx of illegal immigrants have seen an increase in crime, and this, along with the recession, may have seen Chinese investors move elsewhere.
"Coping with illegal immigrants is a priority. We do not want ghettos in our cities. We will fight and we will win to protect investors," he said.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel acknowledged on Thursday that Europe's lingering debt crisis will dominate next week's G20 summit in Mexico.
Europe's debt woes will overshadow all other topics at the meeting, with the eyes of the world's leaders on Germany, Europe's biggest economy, to fix the crisis and to do more to spur growth, she said in an address to parliament.
Polydoras called on G20 leaders to pay attention to smaller countries.
"The big countries cannot survive without the small. I think the G20 must encourage and assist countries in difficulty, like Greece and other southern European countries, to tackle the economic crisis, which needs international cooperation," he said. "This is my message."
Chinese economists have voiced concern over the eurozone debt crisis.
"The debt crisis won't be solved in the short term, as it involves many aspects, such as European economic restructuring, institutional design and the welfare system of the eurozone," said Liu Mingli, an expert at the Institute of European Studies at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations.
Syriza, a left-wing party which opposes tough austerity measures, is expected to poll well in the Greek election but not gain an overall majority.
Polydoras, an author of 34 books, said he does believe in cooperation among parties.
"Problems are very deep. We can only solve them by structural change."
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Tan Xuan contributed to this story.