Greek-Chinese cultural cooperation

Broadly speaking, the cultural cooperation between Greece and China may be overviewed by examining (a) cooperation on cultural-educational affairs in general; (b) the Olympic cooperation, especially with regard to China’s efforts to host the 2008 Beijing Games; and last but not least, (c) the organization of the Cultural Year of Greece in China (Sept. 2007 – Oct. 2008).

(A) Cultural – Educational Cooperation

In the field of cultural relations, the Cultural Cooperation Agreement between Greece and China and the existing relevant Cultural Exchange Programs form the basis of their bilateral ties and exchanges.

During the Greek Prime Minister’s trip to China (January 2006), the two sides agreed that the competent authorities of the two countries should start consultations on the prospect of setting up cultural centers in each other’s country. The Joint Statement on a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, signed during the Prime Minister’s visit, provides for the two countries’ working together in order to provide more opportunities for scholarships and exchanges of students and professors.

Culture Minister M. Liapis and China's visiting Vice Minister of Culture Zhao Weisui signed in Athens a Protocol of Cultural Exchanges for 2007-2010, in December 2007. The agreement foresees increased cooperation in the protection of cultural relics as well as exchanges in fine art, theater, cinema, music and traditional culture. The protocol is the first bilateral cultural exchange agreement after the two countries decided to set up a strategic partnership in 2006. The two ministers also showed their readiness to cooperate in the prevention of theft, illegal imports, exports and the transfer of cultural properties and works of art.

Minister of National Education and Religious Affairs Mrs. Marietta Yiannakou and her Chinese counterpart Zhou Ji signed a Memorandum for Bilateral Cooperation in Education between Greece and China in April 2006. The two countries signed a three-year protocol agreement to encourage closer development of education and research activities. The agreement will run from 2007-2010 and aims at providing scholarships for Greek university students to study in China and vice versa. Additionally, the Greek and Chinese languages will be taught in each other’s country in government-certified courses, while universities from both countries will work together on research projects. Minister Yiannakou visited the Greek Studies Centre at the Beijing Foreign Studies University. Min. Yiannakou stressed that the center’s existence met Greece's efforts to promote both the modern and ancient Greek languages. The Greek Minister met with the authorities of the university, who expressed interest in Greece's Olympic Education program.

Greek studies in China

Of particular importance to bilateral cooperation, going beyond the narrow confines of the cultural sector, is the study of Greek language and literature at Chinese universities and other academic institutions. The Centre for Greek Studies was inaugurated in December 2000 at Peking University, in addition to the preexisting Modern Greek Language Chair at Shanghai’s Intl. Studies University. Since September 2007, the School of European Languages and Cultures of BFSU (Beijing Foreign Studies University) opened a four-year undergraduate course leading to a B.A. in Greek language, the first of its kind in China’s capital. Ancient Greek language and history, as well as the study of Byzantine, modern and contemporary history of Greece is also systematically taught in many other prestigious Chinese Universities, including Qinghua, Nankai (Center of Byzantine Studies), etc.

Chinese studies in Greece
Moreover, Greek Universities have established regular contacts with corresponding Chinese institutions: these contacts include the visit of the Rector of National & Kapodistrian University of Athens Professor Georgios Babiniotis (9/2005) to Peking University (following a bilateral agreement between the two academic institutions signed in 2003), as well as to Shanghai University (where a similar agreement was signed), Zhejiang University, and Sichuan Normal University; similar contacts have been developed over the last few years between the Ionio University of Greece, under its Rector Prof. Demetrios Tsougarakis, and many Chinese institutions of higher learning, including Peking University, Nankai, Fudan and BFSU (a MOU on bilateral cooperation has been signed with later). Last but not least, a bilateral agreement foreseeing the cooperation between the Athens University of Economics & Business and the Confucius Institute was signed in June 2008 at the Great Hall of the People during the visit of the President of the Hellenic Republic K. Papoulias to China. Chinese Pres. Hu Jintao attended the signing of the agreement.

Cultural Organizations related to Greece in the P.R. China

* Centre for Hellenic Studies, Peking University, (date of establishment: 01/12/2000)
* Greek Studies Department, International Studies University - Shanghai, (year of establishment: 1972).
* Teaching of Greek language at the special, state-of-the-art “Thucydides Room”, at the University of Foreign Languages of the Peoples Liberation Army in Wu Liang (founded: November 2004).
* The teaching of Modern Greek language at the Beijing Foreign Studies University and the Zhejiang University in Hangzhou was envisioned in the signing of a related agreement between the two countries, in April 2006, during the visit of Greece’s Minister of Education, Mrs. M. Giannakou. As of Sept. 2007, BFSU has started a four-year B.A. program in Modern Greek.

Major Greek Cultural Activities in China (select list)

* Greece- China Educational Program (2003-2006)
* Exhibition: “Ancient Greece : Mortals and Immortals”, National Museum of Chinese History Tian An Men Square , Beijing (Duration: July 04 – March 05) and at the Museum of Jinan, Shangdong Province (Duration: April 2005 – June 2005)
* Participation of 15 Greek artists (painters, sculptors etc) at the 2nd Beijing Biennale (September – October 2005)
* Visit of the Rector of National Kapodistrian University of Athens Mr. Georgios Babiniotis (9/2005) to Peking University (following a bilateral agreement between the two academic institutions signed in 2003), as well as to Shanghai University (where a similar agreement was signed), Zhejiang University, Sichuan Normal University.
* Participation of Greece in the Cultural Tourism Festival titled “Beijing Tourism Festival”, organized by Beijing Municipality (September 2005).
* Greek participation with a well-received pavilion in the “Europe-Street” event, organized by the British Presidency of the EU member-states in China and the European Commission Delegation to this country.
* During 2005, the previously established fraternizations of the Municipality of Thessaloniki and the Municipality of Tianjin and Shengyang took effect; besides during the same year more fraternizations were carried out between the Municipality of Athens and the Municipality of Beijing, the Municipality of Exhombourgo Tinou and the Municipality of Zhou Shang, the Municipality of Kerkyra and Municipality of Tai an, as well as between the Prefecture of Pieria and Shandong Province.
* Organization of the “Greek Film Week” first in Beijing (7-14/4/06) and later in the city of Shanghai. During the Greek Film Week, representatives of the Greek Ministry of Culture, the Art Director of the Thessaloniki Festival Mrs. D. Mouzaki, as well as the director Mr. P. Voulgaris visited the Chinese Film Academy and the Hellenic Studies Center at Peking University.
* Participation in the Student Film Festival of Beijing (29/04/06)
* Art exhibition of Alekos Fassianos at the Jian Tai Yi Shu Guan Gallery in Beijing; paintings and part of his works from the Olympic stamp series created for the Athens 2004 Olympic Games were presented (May 2006)
* In June 2006, during the official visit of Greece’s Minister of Tourism Mrs. Petralia in the P.R. China, the Greek Ministry of Tourism Development and the Greek Embassy in Beijing hosted a musical concert at the “Forbidden City Concert Hal”, performed by “Mikis Theodorakis” Popular Orchestra, in collaboration with the “Beijing Symphony Orchestra” and “China National Opera House”. The musical work, under the title “Songs of Passion and Love”, was composed by the renowned Greek composer Mikis Theodorakis. The notion of love, in all its forms, in the work of M. Theodorakis was the theme of the performance.
* Traditional Greek dances performed by the Greek Women's Lyceum during the Beijing International Tourism Exhibition 2006 (22/06/2006)
* Greek movies show at the Beijing Cinematographic Archives (from end of June until the beginning of September 2006)
* Participation in the International Book Fair in Beijing (01-04/09/2006
* Participation of Greek Dance groups in the Cultural Tourism Festival of Beijing (24-28/09/2006)
* Participation in the European Fair on Higher Education, held in Beijing (19-21/10/2006)
* Participation in the International Student Festival of Beijing University (28/10/2006)
* Visit of delegation of Greek writers, in the context of bilateral exchanges according to the Educational Agreement between China and Greece (30/10. – 07/11/2006)
* Painting exhibition “Vivid Myths” by Alecos Fassianos, Shanghai (07-15/11/2006)
* Participation in the exhibition “Show case Europe”, organized during the “EU – China Partenariat” , in Chengdu, capital of Sichuan Province (09-12/11/2006)
* Participation in the 1st International Culture and Creative Industry Exhibition, Beijing (10-14/12/06)
* Participation in the International Photo Exhibition titled “China through the eyes of diplomats”; Greek participant Mr. Ioannis Marinoglou, staff member of the Embassy of Greece – Press & Communication Office was awarded a distinction; Beijing (17-22/12/2006).
* Greek traditional folk dance, Greek music, and Greek food were the highlights of the 2007 Beijing Chaoyang International Spring Carnival (18-24/02/2007).
* The Ministry of Tourism of the Hellenic Republic, the Greek National Tourism Organization and the Embassy of the Hellenic Republic in China organized a photo exhibition of the acclaimed CCTV anchorwoman Mrs. Rita Zhao, under the title “Greece : explore your senses”, at Beijing’s Capital Museum, (15-29/03/2007).
* During the official visit of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Hellenic Republic, Mrs. Dora Bakoyannis to China, and on the occasion of the celebration of 35 years of diplomatic relations between the Hellenic Republic and the People’s Republic of China, Greece’s Foreign Ministry and the Greek Ambassador in China, Mr. Michael Cambanis, hosted a concert of Greek music and songs performed by Alkistis Protopsalti and her orchestra at the Forbidden City Concert Hall, (11.05.2007)
* Visiting Minister of Foreign Affairs of Greece Mrs. Dora Bakoyannis addressed the faculty and students of Peking University on the topic “The Olympics: More than Just ‘Games”. Greece’s FM conveyed her experience as the former Mayor of Athens and explained to the Chinese audience the challenges, and the momentous undertakings in organizing and hosting the Games; she also referred to what constitutes the Olympic legacy and its relevance for the future (May 2007).
* A special ceremony to mark the significant event of the introduction of the language of Modern Greece to yet another prestigious Chinese academic institution, the Beijing Foreign Studies University, was held in late August 2007 and was presided by the Head of the University, Professor Hao Ping, and the Chairman of the University Council, Mr. Yang Xueyi. Greece was represented by her Ambassador in China Michael Cambanis who addressed the event. Chinese officials, members of foreign diplomatic authorities in Beijing and more than one thousand students, attended the event (29/08/2007).
* The Hellenic Ministry of Culture, the Hellenic Federation of Publishers & Booksellers, and the National Book Centre of Greece jointly hosted a cocktail celebration in early September 2007 at the 14th International Book Fair, in order to celebrate the assignment of Greece as the “Country of Honor” during the 2008 Book Fair to be held in Tianjin in September 2008 (02/09/2007).
* A concert dedicated to the 30th anniversary of the death of acclaimed soprano Maria Callas, as part of the “Callas Year 2007”, took place in Beijing (Poly Theater) with the famous Greek mezzo soprano, Agnes Baltsa. Baltsa performed famous arias by Verdi, Rossini, Mascani, Bizet, Puccini and Mikis Theodorakis. The China National Opera House Orchestra was directed by Nikos Athinaios (27/09/2007).
* On the Cultural Year of Greece in China (Oct. 2007 – Sept. 2008), please see relevant section (C) below.
* On the occasion of the 50th anniversary after the death of one of Greece’s most celebrated writers Nikos Kazantzakis, the “International Society of Friends of N. Kazantzakis” organized a series of lectures at China’s most prestigious universities where Greek language and culture is taught. The President of the Society Mr. Georgios Stasinakis presented at Beijing Foreign Studies University and Peking University the life and works of Nikos Kazantzakis and the travels of the famed author in various countries including China. The events were held under the auspices of the Hellenic Embassy in Beijing (December 2007).
* The Choir of the Association of Greece’s Railway Employees gave a concert in November 2007 at Beijing Foreign Studies University. The Choir performed songs of acclaimed Greek composers such as Mikis Theodorakis and Manos Hatzidakis. The Vice President of the School Prof. Chao and the Ambassador of Greece to Beijing Mr. Cambanis addressed the audience (06/11/2007).
* Greece’s FM Dora Bakoyannis inaugurated on in May 2008 a major exhibition of modern Chinese art in the city of Athens titled "Beijing-Athens-Modern Chinese Art". The Greek FM said that the Beijing-Athens exhibition transports the Athenian visitor to China, at the same time when the Olympic flame has been traveling from ancient Olympia to Beijing. The exhibition presents works of art including paintings, sculptures, videos, photography and designs by 40 of the most representative modern Chinese artists; it is one of the biggest ever exhibitions of modern Chinese art works abroad. The exhibition will run until May 26 and was organized with the support of the Greek embassy in Beijing (12/05/2008).
* Greek cultural performances at Chaoyang Park marked the 2008 Beijing Chaoyang District International Tourism and Cultural Festival as Greek tourism destinations, Greek food, wine and other culinary products, as well as art (such as music and dance presented by Greek Women Lyceum) were presented to Chinese audience. Thousand of Chinese visited the pavilion of the Greek National Tourism Organization during the week-long China’s National Holiday (29/09/2008 – 05/10/2008).
* A new book aiming at introducing the Greek history and mythology to Chinese students and Chinese readers of any age, titled “Greek Mythology for Children”, was presented in November 2008, during a special ceremony organized jointly by Beijing’s Capital Normal University and Peking University’s Center for Hellenic Studies. The book has been translated and edited by the well known scholar of Greek studies and former Ambassador of China to Greece Mr. YANG Guangsheng. The original version of the book published in Greece was written by Anastasia Peristeraki-Psychogiou and contained hundreds of drawing by Georgios Tsouras (02/11/2008)
* The revival of the modern Olympic Games in 19th Century Greece and the nature, content and dynamics underpinning the advancement of Olympic Education in numerous countries were presented by two Greek participants at the acclaimed Beijing Forum held recently at Peking University. The Ionio University Professor of History Eleni Angelomatis-Tsougarakis presented the less well known social and economic context of the efforts of the revival of the Games in modern Greece in early 19th Century. Professor of the University of Patras and Dean of the International Olympic Academy Constantine Georgiadis presented the results of a recent survey on the content and dynamics of Olympic Education in more than 70 countries and regions (7-9/11/2008).
* The 2009 Beijing Chaoyang International Spring Carnival was held in late January 2009 at Beijing’s Chaoyang Park in order to celebrate the start of the Chinese New Year. Upon an invitation from the organizing Committee, a large delegation of dancers from Greece, the renowned Greek traditional dancing group known as "Makistos" from the Municipality of Kireos in Euboia (Evia), participated in the festivities with a series of performances aiming at acquainting the visitors with the arts, dances and warmth of Greece (26/01 – 31/01/2009).
* Four distinguished academics, including distinguished Professor Luo Jinlin were declared Ambassadors of Hellenism for 2009 by the Athens Prefecture in a special ceremony that took place at the Athens Concert Hall. Prof Luo has directed numerous performances of ancient Greek drama, most of them based on translations of yet another distinguished academician and friend of Greece, Professor Luo Niansheng, his father (05/03/2009)
* Greek film scene presented in the context of the «Festival du Film Francophone 2009 – Beijing: Marseilles: the film “A Greek Profile” by Marco GASTINE was screened in Beijing’s French Cultural Centre (14-18/03/2009).
* The Greek Ministry of Culture donated to the Museum of Chinese Women and Children, the only national museum on women and children in China, founded by All-China Women’s Federation, a replica of an ancient marble Greek statue, in a ceremony that took place on Tuesday, April 14, under the auspices of H.E. the Ambassador of Greece in People’s Republic of China, Mr. Theodore Georgakelos. Foreign diplomats and members of the cultural and social life of Beijing honored the ceremony. The Greek Ministry of Culture chose to present a statue named Peplophoros or Peplos Kore, one of the finest Archaic korai to be dedicated to the goddess Athena. The original statue belongs to the Acropolis Museum (14/04/2009).

(B) Olympic Cooperation

The fact that the Olympics of Beijing were the next after the Athens Games in 2004 has been a most promising coincidence in the history of the bilateral relations of the two countries. The widely acclaimed Athens Olympics, conducted both safely and successfully, showcased not only the Olympic Culture, and the ideals of Peace and Truce; they also provided Greece -the birthplace of the Games in the antiquity and the country were the Games were revived in the modern era- the opportunity to present the country’s new image: a beacon of stability, growth, dynamism, ability to deliver, and prosperity in its neighborhood, Greece demonstrated to a watching world that a small but proud country can rise to difficult challenges and acquit itself with honor. At the same time, Greece had the chance to unveil comparative advantages of hers that were not widely known. In the process, her partners, including China, came to perceive her anew as a credible strategic player with great qualities and great potential.

Thanks to this historic coincidence, Greece and China jointly constructed a bridge of cooperation, a bridge between these two Olympics; a bridge between the two birthplaces of civilization, that of the West and that of the East, enabling the world to receive loud and clear the messages of Peace, of Culture, of Virtue and of Humanitarianism.

Major facets of the Olympic cooperation between the two countries include:

* December 2004: following an invitation by BOCOG, the Secretary General of Information Mr. Panos Livadas visited China in order to present Chinese authorities with Greece’s experience in communication issues pertaining to the organization and hosting of the Games. Mr. Livadas presented the organizational functions and strategies of the Greek Press Center of Zappeion dedicated to the reception of non-accredited Media representatives during the Athens Games.
* November 2005: The Public Order Minister Mr. Georgios Voulgarakis visited Beijing and signed a Memorandum of Cooperation on Olympic Games security issues.
* December 2005: the then Alternate Culture Minister Ms. F. Palli-Petralia visited Beijing, as a head of a Greek inter-ministerial national delegation, invited by the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games. The delegation briefed the Chinese side on major aspects of the successful Games organized in the summer of 2004 in Athens. Information S.G. Panos Livadas also participated in the delegation and presented the media services and functions of the Athens Games Zappeion Press Centre.
* January 2006: General Syros of the Hellenic Police (ELAS) visited Beijing and briefed his Chinese colleagues on Greece’s experience on security issues prior and during the hosting of the Athens Olympics; Gen. Syros presented the establishment of a Security Coordination Center in the context of the 2004 Games.
* June 2006: the Secretary General of Information Mr. Panos Livadas addressed, as a principal guest speaker, a workshop attended by over 120 spokesmen for different levels of the Beijing Municipal Government and various departments of the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Games of the XXIX Olympiad (BOCOG), at the Beijing Olympic Press Center. The title of the presentations was: “Modern Communication for the Olympic Games”. As Mr. Livadas explained “…non-accredited journalists knew that they would come to something way beyond and above a Press Center. 4000 non-accredited media people, from more than 110 countries, and another 20.000 accredited correspondents—whom we had provided with unlimited access to the Zappeion Press Center—knew that they were coming “home” to a place where they could draw reliable and credible information from the horse’s mouth and easily process it, in terms of facilities and up-to-date technology”.
* September 2006: Visit of the Minister of Health and social Solidarity Mr. D. Avramopoulos. The Greek delegation briefed BOCOG on major plans and policies aiming at safeguarding public health and food safety during the Athens Games. Minister Avramopoulos delivered a lecture at Peking University on the relevance of the thought of Socrates and Confucius in today’s world.
* April 2007: Minister of Culture Mr Georgios Voulgarakis was one of the main lecturers of the international conference “SportAccord” which is organized this year in Beijing under the auspices of International Olympic Committee with the participation of the President J. Roggue. The General Secretary for the Olympic Utilization Mr.Spyros K. Cladas, the President and CEO of the Hellenic Olympic Properties S.A. Mr. Christos Hadjiemmanuil, and the President of the Hellenic Olympic Committee Mr Minoas Kyriakou also participated in the conference.
* June 2007: Ministerial visit of the Minister of Public Order Mr. Byron Polidoras leading a delegation of senior official of the ministry and the Hellenic Police. Meetings of Mr. Polidoras with the Minister of Public Security of China and State Counselor Mr. Zhou Yong Kang and the vice President of BOCOG Mr. Li Binghua. The two sides discussed matters related to the cooperation of the two countries in the fields of fighting organized crime, illegal immigration and the Olympic cooperation, and signed a “memorandum of bilateral police cooperation”
* June 2007: Official visit of delegation led by the Deputy Minister of Culture, Mr. Georgios Orfanos, in charge of Sports, with the participation of the Secretary General of Sports Department Mr.Thomas Mentesides. Meeting of Mr. Orfanos with his Chinese counterpart and president of Chinese Olympic Committee Mr. Liu Peng and signing of the 1st comprehensive “Agreement on Sports Cooperation between Greece and China”. The Greek delegation met with the Deputy Executive Director Beijing Olympics Organizing Authority Mr. Jiang Xiaoyu and exchanged views on Olympic preparation matters, security matters, anti–doping, the Olympic volunteers, etc.
* August 2007: Hellenic Olympic Committee President Minoas Kyriakou visited Beijing in order to attend, along with International Olympic Committee President J. Rogge and other heads of national IOC, the opening of Beijing’s Games on August 8 2008.
* September 2007: A Memorandum of Understanding between the Municipality of Amaroussion and Chaoyang (Beijing’s largest administrative district) was signed on September 13, 2007. The Memorandum foresees the cooperation between the two municipal authorities in various fields including that of the Olympic Games; Amaroussion hosted the main Olympic infrastructure held in Athens area in 2004 and Chaoyang is the host district for most major athletic events during the 2008 Games in Beijing. Earlier on the same day the two sides signed a Fraternization Agreement. The Secretary General of the Municipality of Amaroussion Mr. Michalis Christakis, the Vise-Mayor Mr. Georgios Zikos and the President of the Municipal Transportation Eneterprise Mr. Georgios Iatridis attended the events.
* October 2007: A Greek Special Olympics delegation, including the wife of Greece’s Prime Minister Mrs. Natassa Karamanlis visited Shanghai and attended the celebratory ceremonies of the opening of the Shanghai Special Olympics; Chinese Pres. Hu Jintao visited the area hosting the Greek delegation.
* March 2008: the Olympic Flame departed from ancient Olympia for the months-long torch relay to Beijing, host of the XXIX Olympic Games in 2008, following the now customary torch-lighting ceremony that was attended by Greek leadership, International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Jacques Rogge and IOC honorary president Juan Antonio Samaranch as well as by a bevy of IOC members, in addition to Greek and Chinese officials and athletes. Greek Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis addressed the ceremony, stressing the principles of noble competition, "Ekecheiria" (the Olympic Truce) and peaceful coexistence and understanding that the Games have stood for since their birth in antiquity.
* March 2008: The Chinese Olympic Radio and Television Company (Beijing Olympic Broadcasting - BOB), has asked for the experience and technical know-how of the Visual Communication Laboratory of the Informatics and Telecommunications Department of the Athens University, so as to assure televised broadcast of the Beijing Olympic Games without unexpected incidents, as was the case in Athens in 2004. A group of researchers of the laboratory, headed by professor Dimitris Syvridis, had undertaken, through the assigning by the Athens Olympic Broadcasting - AOB, the crucial task of the installing, inspecting and managing of the visual communications network, which was used for the broadcast of image and sound from the Olympic stadiums towards the international radio and television centre (IBC).
* March 2008: President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias received in Greece Mr. Liu Qi, the President of the Beijing Organizing Committee and Beijing’s party chief (March 24). President Papoulias said Greece supports China's efforts in preparing for the games. The head of BOCOG added that China is willing to enhance cooperation and exchanges with Greece to further improve the friendship between the peoples of the two countries. Pres. Papoulias voiced his confidence in Beijing's ability to successfully hold the 2008 Olympics in August. The visit took place in the context of the celebratory lighting of the Olympic Flame in ancient Olympia for the 2008 Beijing Games, and the start of the Olympic Torch Relay following the handing of the Flame to BOCOG’s Pres. Liu Qi at the Panathinaikon Stadium in Athens where the first modern Olympics where held in 1896.
* April 2008: Hellenic Olympic Committee President Mr. Minoas Kyriakou visited Beijing. Mr. Kyriakou attended the opening ceremony of the 16th general assembly of the Association of National Olympic Committee (ANOC) in Beijing (April 7); the event was addressed by Wu Bangguo, chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress of China.
* July 2008: Greece’s contribution to communicational aspects of the XXIX Olympiad was widely acknowledged during the visit of Secretary General of Information Mr. Panos Livadas to China. Greece’s State Ministry Information S.G. paid an official visit to China upon an invitation of BOCOG’s Executive Vice-President Mr. Jiang Xiaoyu who acknowledged the contribution of Greece’s Secretariat General of Information in the conception of a Press Center for Non-accredited Journalists in Beijing in the course of the XXIX Olympiad. Mr. Livadas visited the Main Press Center for Accredited Journalists where its Vice-director, Ms. Zhao Jingqing accompanied him during the visit. While addressing Greece’s S.G. of Information, Ms. Zhao underscored P. Livadas’ ”direct contribution to China” by means of suggesting and elaborating on a Press Center for Non-Accredited journalists similar to the one organized in Athens in 2004 (first time ever in the history of the Games).
* July 2008: Beijing Capital International Airport (BCIA) and Athens 'Eleftherios Venizelos' International Airport signed on Tuesday afternoon, July 8 2008, just one month before the opening ceremony of the 29th Olympiad, a Brotherhood Agreement (in the form of a a Memorandum of Understanding) as the past and future Olympic host-city airports. Beijing's airport is now intensively preparing to receive and see off the visitors for the 2008 Olympic Games - a feat that Athens airport performed successfully four years ago. The agreement sealed the long existing ties of friendship and cooperation between the two airports, with Athens pledging to assist and offer advice for the optimal organization of airport services at Beijing during the crucial period prior and right after the Olympic Games starting on August 8 2008. Besides, both sides pledged cooperation in civil aviation and other fields, including the promotion of developmental projects and the exchange of know-how in management issues, information and technology. The Athens Intl. Airport was represented by his Chief Executive Officer Mr. Yannis Paraschis. The ceremony was attended by Greece's Ambassador to China Michael Cambanis, the vice-Minister of CAAC (Civil Aviation and Administration of China) Mr. Liu, the Chief of the BCIA Mr.Dong Zhiyi, representatives of BOCOG and chief officers of the BCIA.
* August 2008: Representing the Prime Minister of Greece, Minister for Foreign Affairs Mrs. Dora Bakoyannis attended the celebrations for the opening of the XXIX Olympiad in Beijing on the 8th of August. Minister Bakoyannis participated in a series of event such as the welcoming of the Greece’s National Olympic Team at the Olympic Village on Thursday August 7, and the celebratory reception hosted by Chinese President Hu Jintao in honor of heads of state present at the Games, before attending the opening ceremony.
* August 2008: Minister of Culture in charge of Sports Mr. Michalis Liapis also represented Greece in the celebrations that preceded the opening of the Games. Minister Liapis met his Chinese counterpart Mr. Cai Wu and agreed (Aug. 4 2008) to keep working closer for the repatriation of stolen cultural heritage to its country of origin; Min. Liapis attended the Cultural Year of Greece theatrical performance Medea (by the Athens 2004 Games opening ceremony director D. Papaioannou) at the National Center for the Performing Arts; he also inaugurated an exhibition of the International Olympic Truce Centre at the Hellenic House in Beijing and the “Agon” exhibition on the spirit of the ancient Games at Beijing’s Capital Museum; the Greek Minister of Culture in charge of Sports and the Olympics was also received by BOCOG Pres. Liu Qi on Thursday, August 7.
* August 2008: the Secretary General of Information of the State Ministry Mr. Panos Livadas attended major celebrations, including the welcoming of the Hellenic athletic team at Beijing’s Olympic Village, the inauguration of the Headquarters of the Hellenic Olympic Committee, and the opening ceremony of the Beijing Games.
* August 2008: Hellenic Olympic Committee President Mr. Minoas Kyriakou and the head of the Greek athletic team and HOC Vice-President Mr. Isidoros Kouvelos also attended the opening ceremony, on Aug. 8. On the following day, the opening of the Headquarters of the Hellenic Olympic Committee at the Hellenic House in Beijing was presided by the Chief of the HOC Mr. Minoas Kyriakou. The Greek Minister for Foreign Affairs Ms. Dora Bakoyannis, Culture Minister Liapis, Information S.G. Panos Livadas and other Greek, Chinese and foreign dignitaries attended the event.
* August 2008: the closing ceremony of the Games was attended by the Vice-Minister of Culture in charge of Sports Affairs Mr. Yannis Ioannides.
* August 2008: Athens Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis attended the August 8 opening ceremony of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games. Mayor Kaklamanis was undertaking an official visit to the Chinese capital upon the invitation of Beijing Mayor Guo Jinlong whom he met right ahead of the launch of the Games, on Aug. 8. Mayor Guo warmly welcomed Mayor Kaklamanis, who conveyed wishes from Athens City Council for successful Games as well as warm regards from the people of Greece. The Athens Mayor was also received, August 6, by the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Games of the XXIX Olympiad (BOCOG) chairman Liu Qi who reserved a particularly warm welcome for Mayor Kaklamanis and the municipal delegation of Athens, the city that hosted successfully the 2004 Games.
* October 2008: a delegation of the Olympic Municipality of Amarousion, located next to the City of Athens, participated in the International Forum on Post-Olympics Sustainable Development held in Beijing (October 16-17 2008). The Forum was held in the context of the 9th Beijing CBD International Business Festival which focused on Beijing's sustainable development following its successful hosting of the Olympic Games. The invited countries were Japan, South Korea, Greece, the United Kingdom and Australia. Representatives of each country, including the Mayor of Amarousion Municipality Mr. Georgios Patoulis, addressed the Forum. Other Greek delegates included Amarousion Vice Mayor in charge of Economic Affairs Mr. Spyros Stathoulis, and the Municipality’s Secretary General Mr. Michalis Christakis.

Further news on Olympics and Post-Olympics cooperation as well as on International Forums held in China with Greek Participants may be found on this webpage at: http://www.grpressbeijing.com/english/list.php?cate=131

(C) The Cultural Year of Greece in China

The Cultural Year of Greece in China, (October 2007 - September 2008) attempted to present the modern and also diachronic character of the Hellenic Culture and Greece in China.

Theatrical performances, dance, archaeological and modern art exhibitions, opera, folk concerts, modern and popular music, conferences and book exhibitions constituted some of the facets of Greece’s unique and unprecedented cultural presence in China during the 12-month period before the closing of Beijing’s Summer Games.

The Year of Greece provided the Chinese audience the rare opportunity to learn more not only about Greece’s renowned ancient cultural heritage, but also about the lesser well known but equally important aspects of modern and contemporary Greek culture.

Besides, the Year of Greece largely coincided with the one-year celebrations preceding the hosting of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games; as the then Min. of Culture M. Liapis observed, this has been a great honor of Greece, the birthplace of the Olympics, the country where the Games were revived in the modern era (1896), and the host of the previous Summer Olympics in 2004.

During the visit of PM Karamanlis to China in January 2006 a Memorandum of Understanding on the Cultural Year of Greece was signed between the two countries. This was further elaborated through the signing of another Memorandum of Understanding regarding the Cultural Year of Greece during the visit of the then Greek Minister of Culture Georgios Voulgarakis in Beijing in April 2007. Minister Voulgarakis signed the MOU with his Chinese counterpart Mr. Sun Jiazheng.

In October 2007, the then Greek Minister of Culture Michael Liapis visited China in order to inaugurate the Cultural Year of Greece and the Hellenic House in Beijing (a traditional courtyard house in the heart of the city, specially arranged to host the events of the Year of Greece and promote Greek culture in the Chinese capital). His Chinese counterpart, Minister of Culture Mr.Sun Jiazheng, attended the opening ceremony of the Cultural Year of Greece at Poly Plaza Theater in Beijing. Greek National Tourism Organization Secretary General Mr. Athanassios Economou, former Culture Minister Fani Petralia, Greek MPs, and chief of the HOC Minoas Kyriakou also attended the events.

For further information please also see Greece’s Culture Ministry webpage @ http://www.culture.gr/war/cultureChina_en.jsp)

Opening of the Cultural Year of Greece in China;
Speech by Greece’s Minister of Culture Mr. Michalis Liapis

I would like to thank you for your presence here, which is encouraging in being indicative of the interest of the Chinese public opinion about the Cultural Year of Greece in China. This is the forth time I visit Beijing in these last few months and I feel I am among friends. After all, the relations between the people of the two countries have been traditionally friendly.

The friendship between our two countries dates back to antiquity. In the 5th century BC, the Greek physician Ctesias wrote a travel narrative recommending far-away China as the land, naming it Seres. He praised the inhabitants of this land and their longevity. Strabo’s references in his Geography, four centuries later, were similar. of Silk

The people of Greece and China share a common destiny: they have a history spanning millennia, which bequeathed them a very rich artistic tradition.
It is suggestive that from all the languages known to this date, the Greek and the Chinese are the only ones still spoken after three thousand years.
It is this long historical tradition and the respect of one people to the other that largely facilitate cultural exchanges between us.
Consider also, if you will, the exceptional level of the Olympic cooperation between the two countries.

It is in this context, and at a particularly significant conjunction of time and circumstances, that opens the Cultural Year of Greece in China. A fact, which Greece considers particularly significant on many levels. It provides us with the opportunity to celebrate the ties between the two countries, the bonds that join us through culture. It offers the Chinese society an indicative taste of Greece, the Greek culture. We pass the message to our Chinese friends that the key to understanding the Western Civilization is the prior understanding of the Greek Civilization, and vice versa of course, the same applies to Greeks.

Moreover, through the contact between the two people we create, by extension, new opportunities for an even closer political, economic and tourism cooperation, with mutual benefits.

I have to stress, that it is a particular honour to my country that the Chinese government assigned this particular period of time, which includes the Olympic Games, for the organization of this series of cultural events. It is a period during which Beijing finds itself at the epicentre of international interest with Greece having an important – prestigious and much publicized presence. We consider this as the utmost gesture to the predecessor organizer of the Olympic Games. And I would like to publicly thank the Chinese government for that.

Thus, at a time when Beijing is reaching the climax of the pre-Games period, we are attempting with the Cultural Year of Greece in China to present the modern and diachronic character of Greek culture and Greece. In a country, where cultural values and traditions are deeply rooted in the consciousness and daily life of the people.

The events of the Cultural Year have already started with a concert dedicated to Maria Callas with Agnes Baltsa. However, this week we will hold the official opening, with two days of celebratory events.

In the afternoon of Thursday, October the 18th, we will open the exhibition of the National Gallery of Greece ‘Classical Memories in Modern Greek Art’ at the Capital. An exhibition presenting the works born out of the influence of the ancient Greek spirit on Modern Greece. An exhibition, which allows its visitors to observe a visual dialogue between Modern Greek creation and the inheritance of ancient art. Museum

On Friday, October the 19th, at 11:30 we will open the Hellenic Centre with the photographic exhibition of Yannis Psilakis entitled ‘Greece Through the Eyes of Yannis Psilakis’. An exhibition with work of the leading Greek photographer dedicated to Greece. A special view of its landscapes and people.

And on Friday evening, we will have Stamatis Spanoudakis’ concert, ‘Alexandros – Paths You Never Walked’, at the Poly Theatre, with the participation of the Orchestra and Chorus of the Greek Radio and Television Corporation (ERT).

As you can see from the file you are holding in your hands, this is a full program, covering the next year. Theatrical performances, cinema tributes, dance, archaeological and modern art exhibitions, opera, folk concerts, modern and popular music, conferences and book exhibitions are among the diverse activities taking place during the Cultural Year of Greece in China.

The scope of this project reveals in the most eloquent manner the significance attributed by Greece to this effort. The significance attached to the strengthening of the ties between the people of the two countries. Because, despite our geographical distance, we feel near to the Chinese people. Particularly during this pre-Olympic period. And of course there is a bilateral - earnest effort in this direction in process. It is indicative that in the immediate future Air China will start operating flights from Beijing to Athens. And I have to confess to you that I am particularly proud and satisfied with this development, having personally contributed from the position I held until recently, that of the Minister of Transportation.

Furthermore, I would like to point out that the Hellenic Centre will also operate, its activities running parallel to the core cultural program. This is a centre for culture, across the street from where we stand, and we will have the opportunity to visit it immediately after the conclusion of the Press Conference.
It is a building in the traditional Chinese architecture, extending over 1,000 square meters in two levels.

Apart from serving as information centre for the events of the Cultural Year, it will also host theme exhibitions, conferences and other activities in cooperation with the Hellenic Foreign Trade Board, and the Greek National Tourism Organization.
During the Beijing Olympic Games, the Hellenic Centre will also host the activities of the Hellenic Olympic Committee.
As you can see, it is a significant gate of communication between the two countries.

Concluding at this point, I would like to thank all those who have worked for the realization of the Cultural Year of Greece in China: my associates at the Ministry and the General Secretariat, the Embassy of China in Athens and the Embassy of the Hellenic Republic in Beijing, the cultural institutions and the sponsors of this effort, without whose assistance this huge project would have never been accomplished. I would like to mention particularly my two predecessors at the Ministry. Ms Petralia, who is here today with us and who set in motion this effort, and Mr Voulgarakis.

Also, of course, to repeat my thanks to the Chinese government for honoring us with hosting this initiative, at such a crucial and significant period for the country. A period, during which the Olympic torch connects the two countries. I must also stress that we Greeks are particularly excited that Beijing is organizing the Olympic Games after Athens. The oldest civilization in the West passed the Olympic torch to the oldest civilization in the East. And Shanghai passes the organization of the 2011 Special Olympics to Athens. This is a true relay, a relay of sports and culture.

Press Releases
regarding the Cultural year of Greece included:

• “The Influence of Ancient Greek Drama on Opera, and the prestigious Peking Opera”
• Aeschylus’ “Prometheus Bound”, presented by the Hellenic National Theater
• Exhibition “George Seferis, Poet & Citizen”
• Greece, Guest of Honor at the “Beijing International Book Fair 2008”
• “From Ancient Olympia to Beijing: Greek and Chinese Artists Discuss Truce, Fair Play, War and Peace”
• “Agon”, The Spirit of Competition in Ancient Greece
• “Medea”, A Modern Dance Performance Directed by: Dimitris Papaioannou
• “Material Links” - A Meeting Of Greek And Chinese Artists
• “Greetings from Athens and Olympia to Beijing”, 2500 Years of Greek Music Tradition
• “Transexperience” Greece 2008
• “ATTIS theatre” performs in Beijing at the Central Drama Academy: “Creating Bridges”
• “Prometheus Bound” by Aeschylus: Central Academy of Drama / Dir. Th. Terzopoulos
• A Sino-Greek Conference on Homer
• “Ajax” by Sophocles: Central Academy of Drama / Dir. Th.Terzopoulos
• A Greek Celebration «Athens 2004» Exhibition of objects and Costumes from the Opening Ceremony of the Athens 2004 Olympic Games
• About the Acropolis Restoration Works and the events organized by the Acropolis Restoration Service at Beijing, China
• Exhibition “Cyclades: Masterpieces of an Aegean Culture”
• Renowned Greek Sculptor and Painter’s exhibition at Confucius Temple on March, 15th 2008
• ‘The Birds’ of Aristophanes by Greek Art Theatre – Theatro Technis ‘Karolos Koun’
• SineQuaNon Dance Company ‘Secret Supper’
• “Labyrinths” - A Comics and Contemporary Visual Arts Exhibition
• A Concert Dedicated to Nikos Kazantzakis by The Thessaloniki State Orchestra in Beijing
• The Megaron Orchestra, Camerata of the Friends of Music in Beijing presents works by contemporary Greek composers
• Cultural Year of Greece in China: Concert By the Beijing Symphony Orchestra, Works by Skalkotas, Christou, Xenakis, Koumentakis and Rachmaninoff
• http://www.grpressbeijing.com/english/read.php?id=1071
• Opening of the Cultural Year of Greece in China, Press Conference by Greece’s Minister of Culture Mr. Michalis Liapis
• Greece through the Eyes of Yannis Psilakis
• Classical Memories in Modern Greek Art - Cultural Year of Greece in China is launching with Art Exhibition
• Stamatis Spanoudakis’ New Music Works Debut in China on October 19, 2007

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