Greek ambassador Vassilios Costis: To enhance people-to-people exchanges is my dream to chase

Beijing, Jul. 8 -- (Guangming) In the past half year, Greece has successfully fulfilled the rotating presidency of the EU, and ties have strengthened in both economic and cultural fields between China and Greece.

And recently, during Chinese Premier Li Keqiang's latest trip to Europe, he headed to Greece for a three-day visit. The trip has been regarded as opening a new chapter in bilateral ties.

For a comprehensive review of the development in Sino-Greek relations, GMW.cn reporter interviewed the Greek Ambassador to China, Vassilios Costis, who is a crucial participant in and witness to the progress.

Vassilios Costis said that to enhance "people-to-peole" exchange was his dream to chase in China.

GMW.cn: Nice to meet you, Ambassador, Mr. Vassilios Costis! Thanks for accepting the interview proposal from GMW.cn.

You have been the Greek Ambassador to China since June last year. During the past one year, what do you feel proudest in terms of your work in China, and could you recall the happiest moment in your daily life in China?

Vassilios Costis: The happiest moment in my presence here was the visit of Premier Li Keqiang to Greece. I consider it as a milestone in the bilateral relations of our two countries. And I am very happy to have the opportunity to work on this with my Chinese colleagues in the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Chinese ambassador in Athens. Concerning my personal happy daily life, I would say that It’s the trip and excursion to Shandong province . And last November was also one of the most pleasant moments I had in China together with my visits in Chengdu, Chongqing and Wuhan.

GMW.cn: Mr costis, This interview is for our new program called “Living a dream in China”.Speaking of dream, I think you are one of the dream chasers. Well, you have travelled thousands of miles to China; you must have your dream to chase. Could you share it with us?

Vassilios Costis: The dream I chase and I hope to see it realized within one or two years is to enhance the so-called "people-to-people" exchanges. I deem it very important to have the Chinese and Greek people closer together in all fields, especially in the culture field. Only if we increase the flow of tourism and visitors from China to Greece and vice versa, we will have this great achievement. There is a great admiration in Greece vis-à-vis the Chinese civilization and the Chinese history. And I know the same is valid in China too, concerning Greece and ancient Greek civilization. But this is not enough. As I was telling you before, we have to try to be closer, closer together. And we can achieve this by enabling people to travel in Greece and China respectively.

GMW.cn: Thanks for sharing, Mr Costis. I'm glad to see your dream come true. By the way, recently, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang has concluded his visit to Greece. During his visit, Greek Prime Minister, Mr Antonis Samaras said that Greece can be the start of a Sino-European trade corridor.

Well, speaking of trade, EU and China has trade frictions in the cooperation. Chinese scholars and people tend to hold the opinion that those frictions are boiled down to protectionism of some EU countries, compared with which Greece’s friendliness convinces me that Greece will attract more and more Chinese investors and companies. What do you think of China’s foreign trade with European countries, especially with Greece?

Vassilios Costis: Greece, as previous EU presidency, supported and still supports the enhancing of the relationship between EU and China in all fields, especially in the trade sector. You know, EU, is the greatest partner of China, trade partner, and we tend to continue this effort.

During our presidency of the EU, we promoted the signing of the conclusion of an investment treaty. We hope that it will be completed within the next months, we hope. And we do our best with this.

Concerning protection of some countries in the European Union, you know, in every relation, especially concerning state relations, relations between states there are problems and obstacles.

The experience shows that we can overcome this, step by step. You know, maybe you remember we have the big differences concerning solar products, I mean, solar energy products. We tried and we made it to overcome this obstacle to set it aside. I am sure that by dialogue, continuing negotiations, and by enhancing the spirit of cooperation we have between EU and China, the day will come when all these will be past.

GMW.cn: Mr Ambassedor, here is the last question. At the just concluded Shanghai International Film Festival, the Greek movie Little England has won Best Film, Best Director and Best Leading Actress. It's successful and awesome.

As we see, there are increasing cultural exchanges between China and Greece, the Chinese and Greek cultures are going global too. But the two countries are facing one same issue— that is the essence of the culture is borrowed and developed by other country, such as Greek mythology and Chinese Kung fu. They are displayed in Hollywood films and in Hollywood style. Some people worry that in the future there would be "Hollywood Mythology" or "Hollywood Kung fu".

Since Greece has made great efforts to promote its own culture to the world and you have done well. Mr Costis, could you share some experience with us?

Vassilios Costis: Hollywood mythology, I mean, Greek mythology according to Hollywood taste is not a new phenomenon. It is an old phenomenon at least in Europe and in the United States.

You know, I can’t discard the so-called Hollywood way of presenting Greek mythology or Chinese Kung fu, but this is not enough.

I think we have to return to the roots, because if we generally can cooperate and elaborate on our cultural tradition or our history, we can present in a more authoritative manner what we mean and what we think of this great heritage. Greek mythology and Chinese philosophy of Kung fu, because Kung fu is not just martial art, it is something more than that. It's very popular. Both are very popular worldwide. I can remind you the huge success of Jackie Chan in your case. Our success is in several films throughout the last decades and even during the last decades, like Troy and Alexander the Great.

But I think I would agree with you that countries of origin of this kind of heritage can do more than that. So allow me to go back to your first question and say that people-to-people exchanges, especially in the culture field, could bear fruits in this field, I mean, how to imagine, how to view film making, theatre making, everything in playing.

So let us contribute both sides on enhancing and promoting this strength which started already with a milestone-- visit of Premier Li Keqiang to Greece.

By Liu Shimeng & Zhang Zhou

Sincere thanks to our cameraman Lu Chengye

Vassilios Costis
Greek Ambassador to China

Mr. Vassilios Costis has served as Ambassador of Greece to China since June, 2013. In the past one year, Greece has gradually stepped onto the way of getting out of the Eurozone crisis. Chinese Premier Li Keqiang's visit to Greece has opened a new chapter in the Sino-Greece ties. Undoubtedly, Mr Vassilios Costis is a crucial participant in and witness to the progress.More>>

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  • "We tried and we made it to overcome this obstacle to set it aside. I am sure that by dialogue, continuing negotiations, and by enhancing the spirit of cooperation we have between EU and China, the day will come when all these will be past."
  • "The dream I chase and I hope to see it realized within one or two years is to enhance the so-called "people-to-people" exchanges. I deem it very important to have the Chinese and Greek people closer together in all fields, especially in the culture field."
  • "The happiest moment in my presence here was the visit of Premier Li Keqiang to Greece. I consider it as a milestone in the bilateral relations of our two countries."

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