by Maria Spiliopoulou
ATHENS, April 23 (Xinhua) -- Greece and China are the "steam engines" in the joint effort to highlight culture, a form of soft and smart power, as a factor for cooperation, growth and stability in an ever uncertain and unpredictable era, Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias told Xinhua in a recent interview.
"Both China and Greece aim at promoting a positive agenda for cooperation because we both remain concerned about the emerging trends in our growingly asymmetric world," said the foreign minister in the interview made just ahead of the first Ministerial Conference of the Ancient Civilizations Forum (ACF), which will open in Athens on Monday.
The establishment of the ACF, as the GC10 will be called henceforth, is a very important milestone as it brings together a group of 10 nations, namely Mexico, Bolivia, Peru, China, India, Iran, Iraq, Egypt, Italy and Greece, representing the world's 10 ancient cultures that have influence on today's world, the Greek minister said.
"Over the past year, in coordination with our Chinese partners, we have meticulously planned this initiative, aiming at using culture as a vehicle in the promotion of international cooperation, dialogue, connectivity and better understanding and, ultimately, peace and stability throughout the world," said the minister.
"The mutual respect between Greece and China, stemming from the fact that we represent two of the oldest and most influential civilizations, has contributed to the deepening of our bilateral relations and this is an experience we want to expand beyond our bilateral framework, using it to further expand synergies between other nations with similar cultural impact," he explained.
According to the minister, Greece is a beacon of stability in the Eastern Mediterranean, as it lies in the middle of a triangle of instability with Ukraine at its pick, Libya and Syria at its base.
Similarly, China is a major player in Southeastern Asia, and as such, is key to the stability of the region but also, for obvious reasons pertaining to its overall size, beyond it, said the Greek minister.
On the expectations to the outcome of the first GC10 forum, Kotzias said the upcoming meeting in Athens will in effect inaugurate this very important initiative, and will mark the "act of birth" of the forum.
"Moreover, it will be a very good opportunity to inaugurate a dialogue between very diverse countries from four different continents about the role of soft power and culture in international relations and its impact on the cultural industry," he added.
The Greek minister also referred to the role of the Athens forum in cross-border cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative proposed by China, and the links between the two initiatives.
"The purpose of the Belt and Road Initiative is to create conditions for a sustainable and viable network of cooperation in various fields -- ranging from infrastructure to transport and energy -- in a way that will safeguard the benefits of connectivity and dependence on each other," the Greek minister noted.
Describing the relationship between the two initiatives as complimentary, the minister said "the Ancient Civilizations Forum is likely to trigger a further will to cooperate by underpinning common cultural traits and references, as well as by engaging together in learning from the past and foreseeing the challenges of the future."
"In short, the Belt and Road Initiative and the ACF are different sides of the same coin," Kotzias said.