Greece benefits from healthy relationship with China under BRI cooperation: diplomat

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ATHENS, June 16 (Xinhua) -- Greece enjoys the benefits of its healthy relationship with China in the context of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and will continue cooperation on this path, Spiros Lambridis, Greece's permanent representative to NATO, has said.

"At this point all that we are getting out of this is the benefits of a healthy and very legitimate commercial relationship," he said in an interview with CNBC on Monday, pointing to the large and successful case of bilateral collaboration under the BRI in Greece -- Chinese COSCO SHIPPING's investment project at the Piraeus Port.

More than a decade ago, when Greece launched an international tender for the management of its largest port, Piraeus was still a decaying port, he said.

"The Chinese squarely and openly won the commercial part of the Piraeus port ... Now Piraeus has become again, due to the investment and the national efforts, the first biggest port of the Mediterranean," Lambridis stressed.

China's COSCO SHIPPING acquired a majority stake in the port's operator, Piraeus Port Authority S.A., in 2016 after an international tender.

The group's subsidiary, Piraeus Container Terminal S.A., has managed the port's container terminal since 2009, when Greece got trapped in a severe debt crisis that brought the country to the brink of bankruptcy.

In recent years, the image of Piraeus has changed through upgrades and expansion work, with Chinese investment accessing many sectors of Greece and the deepening economic ties between both countries.

"We strategically opt for the best possibilities for our own country ... Thus, so far, we have joined the Belt and Road Initiative in a very concrete project and in a very concrete term, not looking at that as a strategic relationship with another partner, but certainly we are not going to abandon it just because others do," Lambridis said. Enditem

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