The country’s officials should avoid ‘indirect recognition of Taiwanese independence,’ Athens reportedly told its diplomats Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis meets with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Maximos Mansion as part of his two-day official visit to Greece on November 11, 2019 in Athens, Greece © Getty Images / Aris Messinis – Pool /Getty Images

Greece has warned its public officials not to attend events or ceremonies hosted by Taiwan to avoid possible diplomatic problems with its key trading partner, China, a report by the Japan-based Nikkei Asia has said.

While the European Union (EU) does not have formal relations with Taiwan or recognize Taipei’s claim to independence from Beijing, relations between Taiwan and the 27 member states of the European bloc are varied. Lithuania has been a prominent supporter of Taiwan, while various other countries, Estonia and Latvia included, have increased engagement with Taipei.

Greece, though, has kept its distance, and according to the Nikkei Asia report, in recent days, Athens has warned its officials to avoid attending any events hosted by Taiwan to avoid what its government said could be “serious problems” for Greece-China relations.

In an email sent to diplomats in early October, Greece’s Foreign Ministry instructed officials to reject any invitations they may have received to attend events to mark Taiwan National Day on October 10, Nikkei Asia said.

“The participation of ministers, members of parliament and civil servants in receptions or events of the Representative Office must be avoided,” the email, signed by Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Alexandra Papadopoulou, said, according to the publication.

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It added that Greek representation at a Taiwanese Representative Office, often considered de-facto embassies, could be perceived by Beijing “as an indirect recognition of the independence of Taiwan” and could pose “serious problems” in ties between Greece and China.

Officials from EU states, including France, Belgium, and the Netherlands, attended events to mark Taiwan’s national day this year, Nikkei Asia noted.

China is a key trading partner for Greece and exported almost $13 billion worth of goods to Athens in 2022, according to United Nations data. Greek exports to China during the same period totaled well over $400 million.

The warning emailed by Greece’s Foreign Ministry to its various officials came about a month before the country’s prime minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, visited Beijing, where he met with President Xi Jinping.

In their summit, the two leaders discussed expanding cooperation on shipping and clean energy, boosting Chinese tourism to Greece, and increasing the number of Greek products that enter the Chinese market, according to a meeting summary from Beijing officials.

Earlier this year, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen underscored the EU’s commitment to the One-China policy, which formally recognizes Beijing as the “sole legal government of China.” However, in April, she warned Xi against using force in the Taiwan Strait and said that Europe stands “strongly against any unilateral change for the status quo” in the region. (RT)