NEW DELHI: The world’s largest democracy India, and the birthplace of democracy Greece, are continents apart but the two nations share common values and ethos. Both represent two of the most ancient civilisations on earth with ties going back thousands of years.
Diplomatic relations between the two countries were established in 1950 but the ties have gained momentum only in recent years. Administrations on both sides have shown keenness to make the relationship deeper and extend it to geopolitical issues, thereby laying the ground for establishing a strategic partnership.
India aspires to be a global power. Greece on the other hand, is a pivotal power in Mediterranean Sea. It is also a member of NATO and the European Union.
Both nations are in unison when it comes to international law, regional security and international terrorism. Greece is also a strong supporter of India’s independent foreign policy.
The threat posed by radicalisation and terrorism, strategic importance of IndoPacific, counterterrorism and reforms in multilateral institutions to make them more inclusive, transparent, accountable, and better reflective of contemporary geopolitical realities are some of the other issues on which both India and Greece have similar views.
An agreement for military cooperation was signed between both the countries in 2020. Under it, both sides agree to hold joint exercises, and assist each other’s defence sector through exchange of technology and intelligence. Indian warships periodically visit the Souda Bay in Crete — the most important naval base in the Mediterranean Sea. The presence of Indian naval forces in the Mediterranean for joint Indo-Greek aeronautical exercises is a symbolic power projection across the Eurasian landmass.
On the economic front, the picture has never been rosier, Indian exports to Greece peaked in 2022, reaching an all time high of 13.51 INR billion.
External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar went on his maiden visit to Greece in 2021. This was the first visit by an Indian foreign affairs minister to that nation in about 18 years, with the last EAM level visit taking place during former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s tenure. The visit held special significance, as 2021 marked the Bicentennial Anniversary of Greek Independence.
During his visit, Jaishankar met Prime Minister of Greece Kyriakos Mitsotakis and highlighted the fact that Greece is the meeting point of relations between Eastern Europe and Russia on one side and the EU on the other. He along with his Greek counterpart also unveiled a statue of Mahatma Gandhi in Athens.
Jaishankar’s visit was followed by an official visit of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Greece, Nikos Dendias to India in March 2022. Considering their rich ancient past, the two sides agreed to continue their relationship in the field of culture and education. A cultural and education exchange programme for the five-year period 2022-2026 was also signed during the visit.
Greece also reiterated its support for permanent membership of India in a reformed United Nations Security Council (UNSC).
Recently, Minister of State for External Affairs and Culture Meenakshi Lekhi visited Greece from January 30-31, where she met with Greek Minister of Foreign Affairs and held discussions on further collaboration and promotion of bilateral and international cooperation.
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