ATHENS - A consignment of medical supplies provided by the Chinese Government to the Greek Government upon the latter’s urgent request arrived in Athens shortly after 8:00 on Saturday morning, on Air China Flight CA 863. The assistance sent from Beijing, weighing about eight tons, included 550,000 medical masks, surgical masks and protective gear, goggles, gloves and shoe covers.
The Chinese Ambassador to Greece Zhang Qiyue handed over the list of the medical supplies on behalf of the Chinese Government to Health Minister Vassilis Kikilias on the tarmac of Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport. State Minister Giorgos Gerapetritis and Alternate Foreign Minister on European Affairs Miltiadis Varvitsiotis were present at the event, as was the foreign ministry's secretary general for international economic relations and openness, Grigoris Dimitriadis.
Many other cartons of medical supplies, weighing about 10 tons, donated by Chinese enterprises and organisations arrived on the same flight, a Chinese Embassy announcement said.
Kikilias expressed Greece's gratitude to the Chinese government and any other entity that provided assistance, making the following statement to public broadcaster ERT: "During a global shortage of these goods and an immense battle waged by the health ministry in order to secure supplies, this today is a great relief and we will continue to fight in order to equip our hospitals."
"It is very significant that we have this cooperation with China and it is providing this assistance that we need," he added, noting that the donation will be a huge relief for Greece's healthcare and medical staff, especially, so that there are adequate means of self-protection for a sizeable period of time. Kikilias noted that Greece, unfortunately, produces minimal amounts of hygiene and sanitation gear, which is not enough to cover the heightened demand.
He noted that the government's efforts to secure such protection means were not limited to the Chinese donation on Saturday.
According to a Chinese Embassy announcement, Ambassador Zhang noted that these medical supplies were organised and transported within eight days by the Chinese Government, "at a time when China is still under immense pressure from containing the epidemic and the supply of medical materials are still in shortage."
"Ambassador Zhang quoted Aristotle’s words 'What is a friend? A friend means the single soul dwelling in two bodies,' saying that China and Greece have been working closely together in the fight against the Covid-19, which once again testified to the excellent relations and friendship between the two peoples.
"She again thanked the Greek Government for its strong support in the course of China’s combat against the Covid-19, as evidenced by letters by the former Greek President Prokopios Pavlopoulos and Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis to Chinese President Xi Jinping. Ambassador Zhang also commended the efforts and measures taken by the Greek Government as 'early and forceful'.
"She further said that the Chinese business like Cosco Shipping, State Grid, Bank of China, ICBC, Huawei, to name just a few, have all contributed in their own ways to the Greek Society. 'More donations are arriving. And we will do our utmost to assist our friends in Greece. With solidarity and cooperation, we will overcome this challenge together,'" Ambassador Zhang said, according to the embassy press release.
Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias, in a discussion with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi on Friday, expressed Greece's unbounded support for the Chinese people and thanked him for the assistance in the form of medical supplies from Beijing.