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The inauguration of the Year of Culture and Tourism of Greece-China took place with a simple event in the Ancient Agora, just before sunset.
The ceremony began with video messages from Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and the Prime Minister of the People's Republic of China, Li Keqiang.
The Greek Prime Minister spoke about a creative meeting of the two peoples, adding that culture and tourism are the two peaks of Greek-Chinese relations. The Chinese Prime Minister referred to the Year of Greece - China, talking about strengthening the friendship between our peoples.
This was followed by the speeches of the Minister of Culture and Sports Lina Mendoni, who characterized the meeting of the two peoples as symbolic and substantial, but also the Minister of Tourism Vassilis Kikilias, who spoke about cooperation and strengthening relations between the two countries through Culture and Tourism.
Messages were also sent by the Minister of Culture and Tourism of the People's Republic of China, Hu Heping, as well as the Director-General of the State Administration of Cultural Heritage, Li Qun. This was followed by the speech of Wu Weishan, Director of the National Museum of Art of China, in video and the awarding of a plaque by the Minister of Culture Lina Mendoni, in honor of Dr. Wu Weishan.
The event featured the digital exhibition "Spacetime. Meet the clay army in Greece "by the Director of the National Archaeological Museum and a Chinese representative and the unveiling of the double statue of Socrates and Confucius. The ceremony ended with the concert of the vocal ensemble chórеs, from the National Opera.
Speech by the Minister of Culture and Sports L. Mendoni, at the opening ceremony of the Year of Culture and Tourism of Greece - China:
"Dear Mr. Minister, Your Excellencies, Ambassadors, Friends, Ladies and Gentlemen, We are today at the archeological site of the Agora of Athens. A place in the heart of ancient and modern Athens. The Agora of Athens was founded in the middle of the 6th century BC. and was the center of the city for at least the next four centuries. Here, in the area we are in today, some of the most important public buildings and sanctuaries of the beggar were erected. Intense administrative, political, judicial, commercial, social, cultural and religious activity developed in the Agora. The Agora throughout antiquity has been a place of meetings, exchange of views and searches.
Today it hosts another meeting, symbolic but also substantial: The meeting of Greek and Chinese culture. This is the essence of the Year of Culture and Tourism of Greece-China that we are launching today. We highlight the past of our two countries, we shape the present together and we prepare the future. We treat our traditions with respect, recognizing that culture is the oxygen of our societies, but also the most convenient way for the two peoples to get closer to each other.
Greek and Chinese culture influenced the western and eastern hemispheres alike, respectively. Of course, apart from similarities and similarities, there were many differences between them. Ancient Greek philosophy was anthropocentric, greatly promoting self-knowledge and self-realization, moderation and harmony. Chinese culture focused on order, harmony and progress. Common point of both, morality and virtue. These are the values embodied by the two emblematic philosophers of the two countries, Socrates and Confucius. Two huge figures, which meet - although modern, but in other worlds, here in the Ancient Agora of Athens for the first time. In the place where the ecumenical values of western civilization were born and prospered.
I would like to warmly thank Dr. Wu Geishan for his contribution. We met in December 2019 in Beijing and he guided us to the Museum of Contemporary Art, which he directs. I had the pleasure to welcome him and host him in Athens at the beginning of 2020, before the global health crisis broke out, and then at the Acropolis Museum, he developed his idea for the Year of Culture and Tourism of our two countries, ie the conversation of the two emblematic philosophers for the world, east and west. It was then that he shared with us his creation, the models of the two figures, Confucius and Socrates. I am absolutely certain that Dr. Wu Geishan would like, as much as we do, to be with us today.
It is true that the conditions are not the ones we would like, and that would allow us to make the most of the possibilities offered by the organization of the Year. However, let me briefly mention the exhibitions that, despite the many difficulties, we are planning together with the Chinese museums for the near future.
You have already heard it from the Prime Minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis. It is the first exhibition "The Greeks: From Agamemnon to Alexander the Great", which will tour three museums, teaching the course of Greek culture in the centuries between the Mycenaean kingdoms to the great universe built by the great mercenary from Macedonia .
In the Chinese capital, in 2022, the exhibition "The Countless Faces of the Beautiful" is planned to be presented, which highlights the different aesthetic expressions from the Neolithic period to late antiquity, through the collections of the National Archaeological Museum.
The Exhibition entitled: "The Sea in Greek Art from antiquity to the present" is to be presented at the Shanghai Museum from April to June 2022. It is a collection of both ancient and modern works that revolve around the sea, this element that has dominated Greek art over time, a defining element for the formation of Greek culture in its long historical duration.
Finally, an exhibition dedicated to Daedalus, this mythical figure of the inventor, is scheduled to take place in 2022 at the Palace Museum of the Forbidden City in Beijing, while in return the exhibition "Melodic treasures: rituals and life in Court of the Qing Dynasty ".
We believe that these thematic exhibitions present and promote Greek history, Greek art, Greek culture in a modern way, which attracts the interest of museum visitors in our countries, and highlights new perspectives both in terms of cultural relations and exchanges and in terms of tourist flows. However, the new conditions also require the adoption of new technologies and the field of culture, especially exhibitions, is suitable for the development of such applications. The National Archaeological Museum and the Museum of the Mausoleum of Emperor Qin Shi Huang created the periodic digital exhibition "Space-Time. Meet the clay army in Greece ". The National Archaeological Museum hosts on its website from today an innovative digital tour of the famous mausoleum of the first Chinese emperor, dating back to around 221 BC. The online public will have the opportunity for the next six months to get to know the emperor's clay soldiers. The colored clay army "chats" online with the emblematic Croesus, Kouros from Anavyssos, through the website of the National Archaeological Museum. As ambassadors, both "Croesus" and the clay soldiers communicate the two ancient civilizations and their creations in the vast world of the internet, to millions of visitors with free access, in three languages, Chinese, Greek and English.
Along with the cultural heritage, our desire is to make better known in China and the modern Greek culture, the modern creation of our country. An ambitious translation program of Greek literary works into Chinese is already being promoted, which is evolving during the Year. Greece is also present at the Beijing International Book Fair, which is being held these days, but it is also the honored country at the Beijing International Film Festival, which starts in a few days, where Greek films of very dynamic and up-and-coming domestic film production will be presented. Our goal during the Festival is to promote Greece as a shooting country for Chinese productions. Besides, as you have heard, in just a few weeks the first Greek-Chinese co-production will premiere, following the 2017 transnational agreement for the cinematic cooperation between the two countries.
If the conditions allow, our goal is to continue the already close relations and exchanges between the National Theaters of the two countries, but also to promote the exchanges of music and dance groups on both sides.
The Year of Culture and Tourism of Greece - China is another milestone in the relations between the two countries, such as the Olympic Games and the Cultural Olympiad of 2008, the Forum of Ancient Civilizations, the exchanges of visits of the political leaderships of the two countries at the highest level. Greece's participation in the emblematic Chinese initiatives "One Zone - One Road" and "17 + 1", and many other smaller but always important and emblematic events, which constantly strengthen the edifice of Greek-Chinese relations.
The Year of Culture and Tourism can act as a catalyst in further strengthening the relations between the two countries. It concerns two sectors with a clear development dimension and perspective. It concerns two areas that bring closer - each in its own way - our people, our peoples. And this approach of the peoples is very important for the achievement of our goals.
I wish from the bottom of my heart every success in "Year". I wish the continuous deepening of the cultural relations between Greece and China. I wish very soon to have the joy of direct and personal communication ".
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