by Grandesso Federico, Zheng Jianghua
BRUSSELS, May 3 (Xinhua) -- More visa application centers will be opened in additional Chinese cities, which should facilitate EU-China mobility in the future, European Union (EU) Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos told Xinhua on Wednesday.
He made the remarks in an exclusive interview hours before flying to China to launch migration-related negotiations.
"I am pleased to be back in China, and in Beijing more specifically -- a city I have a special relationship with since I signed the first friendship and collaboration agreement between Beijing and Athens, when I was Mayor of Athens in the late 1990s," he noted, adding that he is "a friend of China" and "admires the Chinese culture and civilization".
Avramopoulos was Mayor of Athens from 1995-2002, and served as foreign minister and defense minister of Greece before assuming the office of EU Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship in 2014.
Talking about his upcoming visit to China, he revealed that he is set to launch the negotiations for a visa facilitation agreement, as well as an agreement on cooperation in combating illegal migration.
"Migration and mobility are key elements of mutual interest in EU-China relations," the commissioner stressed.
Beyond the bilateral cooperation on migration issues, he placed high expectation on China's role in "investing in the development of the regions in Africa and Asia where migrant and refugee flow stems from".
"China is a crucial partner for the EU in addressing the root causes of migration, fighting migrant smuggling and human trafficking," he said.
"Closely linked to this is also our cooperation on security issues, such as our joint efforts against terrorism, drug trafficking, money laundering, organized crime and cyber crime."
"The challenges of both terrorism and cyber crime know no borders. This is why a joint approach will make us stronger, together, to protect our citizens and our societies," he added.