Let’s proceed with IMEC despite Gaza war, says Greek PM Kyrios Mitsotakis

Mr. Mitsotakis inaugurates the annual Raisina Dialogue; Greece and India agree to build trade, strengthen defence, migration ties

Updated - February 22, 2024 06:57 pm IST

Published - February 21, 2024 03:06 pm IST - New Delhi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Greek counterpart Kyriakos Mitsotakis during the Raisina Dialogue 2024 in New Delhi on February 21, 2024. Photo; X/@raisinadialogue via PTI

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Greek counterpart Kyriakos Mitsotakis during the Raisina Dialogue 2024 in New Delhi on February 21, 2024. Photo; X/@raisinadialogue via PTI

Despite the Israeli war in Gaza “destabilising” plans for the India-Middle East Economic Corridor (IMEC), India and Greece should persevere with the “peace project”, said Greek Prime Minister Kyrios Mitsotakis in New Delhi. Mr. Mitsotakis, who discussed the project amongst other plans to strengthen bilateral ties in trade and migration with Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his State visit to India, also inaugurated the annual Raisina Dialogue in New Delhi on February 21.

“The war in Gaza and turmoil in the Middle East is undoubtably destabilising but it does not undermine the powerful logic behind IMEC. Nor should it weaken our resolve to work towards realising it,” Mr. Mitsotakis told a gathering of international delegates at the conference organised by the Ministry of External Affairs and the Observer Research Foundation (ORF), which included several foreign ministers, mainly from European countries. 

Also read | Greece’s gateway to Asia, India’s gateway to Europe

“Ground-breaking projects like IMEC hold great promise to supercharge connectivity between India, the growth economies of the Middle East and Europe. To India I say, Greece is your natural doorstep to Europe and beyond,” he said, adding that as the country controlling the world’s biggest merchant shipping fleet, Greece’s geographical position makes it an obvious partner in the project.

During talks earlier in the day with Mr. Modi, Mr. Mitsotakis also discussed doubling trade with India, finalising a mobility and migration pact to regulate legal migration, as well as cooperating on co-production and co-development of military hardware.

Speaking at a media event after the talks, Mr. Modi said Greece had decided to join the Indo-Pacific Oceans initiative launched by India.

“Launched during India’s G-20 chairmanship, the IMEC corridor will contribute significantly to the development of humanity in the long run. Greece can also become an important partner in this initiative,” he added.

While the IMEC MoU launch took place in September 2023, during the G-20 summit in Delhi, the founding members of the initiative, including India, European Union, France, Germany, Italy, Mauritius, the UAE and Saudi Arabia, have been unable to meet, as stipulated by the MoU for the past six months due to the conflict in Gaza. Israel’s Haifa port, owned by India’s Adani Group, was expected to be a key trading point for the ship-and-rail route proposed under IMEC from India’s west coast, through the UAE and Saudi Arabia to Jordan and Israel, before reaching Greece’s Piraeus Port and on to the rest of Europe. 

Editorial |Old ties: On the India and Greece bilateral relationship

Railway construction

When asked about the hiatus in IMEC talks, Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra said that while the core group had been unable to meet due to the ongoing conflict, recent bilateral talks between India and the UAE had focused on railway construction in the UAE by India’s RITES. He also pointed to talks with France President Emmanuel Macron in January on the issue.

“The discussions with regards to specifics of the individual parts of IMEC corridors on railways, shipping and others have been progressing. Some of the MoUs signed in UAE are also part of IMEC,” Mr. Kwatra said at a briefing in response to a question from The Hindu, also saying that no discussion had been held on possibly changing the alignment of the route outside of Israel, in the event of the conflict posing a continuing challenge to the project.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis at Hyderabad House, prior to a bilateral meeting, in Delhi on February 21, 2024.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis at Hyderabad House, prior to a bilateral meeting, in Delhi on February 21, 2024. | Photo Credit: SHIV KUMAR PUSHPAKAR

Apart from connectivity, in his speech at the Raisina Dialogue, Mr. Mitsotakis said India and Greece had ancient and “civilisational” ties between them, praising the bilateral relationship as a “a partnership between the world’s oldest democracy [Greece] and the world’s largest democracy [India].”

“You are an example to the world which should be celebrated. A demonstration that democracy can deliver economic growth,” he said, referring to India’s democracy. “Strengthening partnership with India should be a cornerstone of Europe’s foreign policy, and this is certainly true for my country as well,” Mr. Mitsotakis added. The Greek Prime Minister, who is accompanied by a large delegation of about 150 businesspersons, will travel next to Mumbai and Bengaluru, to speak about avenues for trade and investment between both countries.

0 / 0
Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in

Comments

Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.