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The Olympics bring us closer together

  Walking into the Greek Embassy in Chaoyang District, Beijing, the lush greenery covers the pure white red-roofed building. Pushing open the glass door, the first thing that catches the eye is the Spring Festival couplet painting with the portraits of Qin Qiong and Yu Chigong printed on it, and then walking inside is a bronze head of “Chariot Rider of Delphi”. Delphi is called “the navel of the earth” in ancient Greek mythology.
  Almost every corner here is full of humanistic atmosphere. The reporter of “Global People” looked around in the foyer, as if entering a small art gallery – the head of the Greek goddess Hera, the painting plate of Apollo driving the sun chariot, the pottery plate engraved with ancient Greek linear characters… each piece is full of The display of cultural heritage seems to be narrating Greek myths. Oriental elements such as blue and white porcelain, screens, and ink paintings are also interspersed without disobedience.
  In this place where eastern and western cultural elements are integrated, the reporter talked about culture and history with Karperis, the new Greek ambassador to China. He has had a tight schedule for nearly five months in the job, but he speaks with reporters with a steady tone and a measured grace. Standing in front of paintings depicting guards in an Athens square, he said: “Greece and China both have thousands of years of history and we hold that dear.”
strong ocean complex

  Sunlight shines through the floor-to-ceiling windows and onto the blue and white fabric sofa in the living room. The tie worn by Ambassador Karperis is also blue and white. When he became the ambassador to China in December 2022, he brought a blue, white and red ship model to Beijing and placed it at the entrance of the embassy. The model ship named Nicholas traveled with him to Saudi Arabia, the United States, etc., and now it is brought to China for the third time. As early as 23 years ago, he worked in the Greek Embassy in China. In charge of the Political Section and the Consular Section, and served as the Consul General of Greece in Shanghai from 2012 to 2015.
  Blue and white are the colors of the Greek national flag, representing the blue sky and the white waves of the Aegean Sea, and also highlighting Greece’s history as the source of Western “marine civilization”. In this country located at the “crossroads” of Europe, Asia and Africa, the shipping industry has a long history and is the second largest industry after tourism. “Greece is a leader in the global shipping industry. Calculated by deadweight tonnage, Greek shipowners control more than 17% of the world’s merchant fleet,” Karperis said.

  Greece’s largest port, Piraeus Port (hereinafter referred to as Piraeus Port), is located on the shore of Saronicos Bay in the Aegean Sea. It connects the Pacific Ocean and the Indian Ocean through the Suez Canal, and connects to major European economic centers through the Greek inland. The Piraeus Port transnational operation project launched in 2008 has benefited both China and Greece, and can be regarded as a model of maritime cooperation between the two countries.
  ”The Port of Piraeus is only 10 kilometers away from my home in the center of Athens. COSCO SHIPPING has invested heavily in the Port of Piraeus, which is a mutually beneficial and healthy investment that benefits the economy of the city of Piraeus. COSCO SHIPPING invests in the Port of Piraeus The commercial value of Piraeus is also appreciating, and we all hope that the Piraeus port can be transformed into a top transshipment port in the Mediterranean,” Karperis said.
  Like most Greeks, Karperis has a strong marine complex. He told reporters that his favorite poem is “Ithaca”, which he often recites and savors after dinner. The poem describes the situation in which the hero Odysseus in ancient Greek mythology returned to his hometown of Ithaca after ten years of sea adventure. “This poem reflects the general situation of human beings pursuing ideals. The author Cavafy, as a Greek born in Egypt, fully embodies the characteristics of Greek multiculturalism in his poems.” Karperis said.
  The model ship he brought to the embassy was a miniature version of a ship the Greeks used to use. Now at Christmas, children will hold this model ship, knock on the neighbor’s door, sing a Christmas carol, and the owner will send candy and snacks.
  Perhaps because of his military service, Karperis was tall and straight during the interview, with a serious and thoughtful expression, but when he mentioned his captain’s certificate, he instantly relaxed and smiled with a bit of pride.
  ”I have a driving license for a 15-meter sailing boat. I used to sail in the Aegean Sea. It was a very beautiful memory. The Aegean Sea is very vast. We went from one island to another. This is called ‘island hopping’. We can travel in You can watch the sea from the boat, and you can also swim in the sea. There are many fish in the sea, and there are dolphins jumping on the water surface.” He said while gesticulating, as if he had returned to the time when he was swimming in the Aegean Sea. He told the reporter that after coming to China, some Chinese friends invited him to go out on a boat, but because of his busy schedule, he still couldn’t spare time.
“Greek wine and Chinese food are a perfect match”

  In the past five months since taking office, Karperis has a very tight schedule. It was past 12 noon on the day of the reporter’s interview, and he was still busy with official duties.
  As an ambassador from an ancient civilization, many of Karperis’ itineraries are related to cultural exchanges between China and Greece. Since he took office, he has met with the director of the Palace Museum and the director of the National Museum of China to exchange views on exchanging exhibitions and cooperation. He has also launched a series of exchange and cooperation activities in terms of digital art exhibitions on the theme of Greek mythology, publication of books on Greek content, and promotion of Greek teaching activities in China. Not long ago, China included Greece in the list of the second batch of pilot countries to resume outbound group tourism for Chinese citizens. He said that he is willing to work with China to jointly promote tourism cooperation and the resumption of personnel exchanges between the two countries.
  Since the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Greece more than 50 years ago, the cooperation and exchanges between the two countries in the fields of culture, education and tourism have flourished. At present, Greek universities have opened 3 Confucius Institutes and the world’s first online Chinese classroom. In February 2023, the China-Greece Civilization Mutual Learning Center will be established at the University of Athens, and will focus on joint personnel training, scientific research, social services, and cultural exchanges between China and foreign countries. Karperis said that it will be an important platform for studying the two outstanding civilizations (China and Greece) and their contributions to the human spirit.

  In April 2023, Greece will become the guest country of the 18th China International Wine Expo (hereinafter referred to as the Wine Expo). A 400-square-meter Greek national pavilion in blue and white tones was built in the exhibition area of ​​the wine expo, displaying more than 70 brands of wine and spirits. Karperis is “deeply honored and proud” of this.

  ”It is no accident that the word wine comes from Greek. Greece has a tradition of making wine for thousands of years.” Speaking of “the favorite wine of Dionysus and the gods of Olympus”, Karperis is enthusiastic exuberant. He said that Greece is the birthplace of European wine, “Wine Expo, an important trade platform, provides opportunities for high-quality Greek wines and enhances their popularity and recognition in the hearts of Chinese consumers.” He also became a “propagandist” and introduced that top wineries participated in the wine expo, displaying fine wines from the most famous vineyards in Greece. “Greek wine can be paired with Chinese cuisine at any time. It has a variety of tastes and can meet the most special needs.”
  In Karperis’ view, Greece and China have many similarities in terms of wine culture. It is in line with the old Chinese saying – a thousand cups of wine is less than a bosom friend. “I hope to use wine as a medium to strengthen the economic, trade and cultural exchanges and cooperation between the two countries, to promote the high-quality development of the joint construction of the ‘Belt and Road’ and the stable development of the friendly relationship between Greece and China.”
“I experience a cultural intimacy I’ve never had before”

  Karperis is not only familiar with Chinese affairs, but also the “son-in-law of China”. His wife is a Chinese art curator, and his three children have lived in Greece and China. He himself is also very interested in Chinese culture, he can play Bagua boxing, and he likes to eat dumplings dipped in olive oil.
  People who are familiar with Karperis often comment on him as “refined”. He also has his own views on Confucianism: “In China, Confucianism reflects basic human nature and is also a very important social science. Based on the order of social relations, Confucianism puts forward a series of proposals, looking forward to a better world.”
  Calpe Rees said President Xi Jinping’s Global Civilization Initiative “became the subject of our careful study.” He also said: “Civilization is the foundation of all social, economic and political activity. It is a melting pot where cultures interact and global values ​​are enhanced. It is the fuel for our economic exchanges and technological progress. Greece and China as The ancient civilizations that have made continuous and uninterrupted contributions to the development of human spirit for thousands of years all value the equal and complete cultural interaction of people of all countries.” In Karperis’ view,
  love and marriage are elements common to both the East and the West. “Both China and Greece have a long history. Although there are differences in customs, through interaction, we can all gradually understand what the other is doing. We have many similarities in culture, such as the family that is carried in the hearts of the two peoples. values, such as we all like to share food, we all value ‘face’, and hospitality.” He said, “When I first came to China, I experienced a cultural intimacy that I never had anywhere else. For thousands of years, the people of Greece and China have enjoyed uninterrupted cultural traditions, which has created a unique cultural affinity between Greeks and Chinese.”
  Karperis first served in China in 2000. The following year, Beijing became the host city of the 2008 Olympic Games, “I was one of the Tiananmen celebration crowd”. In 2008, he and his family attended the torch lighting ceremony in Athens, where the Olympic flame was handed over to the mayor of Beijing. In 2014, Karperis participated in the torch relay of the 2nd Youth Olympic Games held in Nanjing as one of the hundred torchbearers.
  ”The Olympic Games have brought us closer together. Greece is the birthplace of the Olympic Games. Athens hosted the first modern Olympic Games in 1896. Beijing is the only city to host both the Summer and Winter Olympics. We all share the Olympic values ’” Karperis said.
  Looking back on the 23 years since he first came to China, Karperis is quite emotional. He said: “In the past 23 years, I have been optimistic about China’s economic development. In 2023 (if) China achieves a growth target of around 5%, it will drive global economic growth by 30%.” Advances in the economy and renewable energy: “This is a win-win effort for the economy, the environment and the well-being of future generations. Green technology is also important for Greece – nearly 50% of our electricity comes from renewable sources. In the future, Greece can focus on cooperating with China in this field.”
  When it comes to the vision of China-Greece relations, Karperis’s answer is quite poetic: “As the sky is high and the earth is wide, if you want to be tall, you must have a rich foundation. According to records , The civilizations of China and Greece had exchanges 2,000 years ago, and I believe this will provide enough space for our cooperation.”

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