India and Greece to upgrade ties to become strategic partners

PM Modi and PM Mitsotakis support dialogue and diplomacy to resolve Ukraine war

Updated - August 26, 2023 09:18 am IST

Published - August 25, 2023 03:11 pm IST - NEW DELHI

Prime Minister Narendra Modi being conferred with the Grand Cross of the Order of Honour by President of Greece Katerina Sakellaropoulou, in Athens, Greece, on August 25, 2023.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi being conferred with the Grand Cross of the Order of Honour by President of Greece Katerina Sakellaropoulou, in Athens, Greece, on August 25, 2023. | Photo Credit: PTI

India and Greece on Friday agreed to upgrade bilateral ties to the level of strategic partnership. Announcing the decision in Athens, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said two countries will collaborate in the field of defence industry and will soon conclude an agreement on migration mobility to smoothen movement of skilled population of both sides. Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis in his comments expressed commitment to freedom of navigation and said there are “concerns” in this regard in both the Eastern Mediterranean and the Indo-Pacific region. 

“Today Mr. Prime Minister and I have decided to take the India-Greece partnership to a ‘strategic’ level. We have decided that we will strengthen our strategic partnership by expanding our cooperation in the fields of defence and security, infrastructure , agriculture, education, new and emerging technology, and skill development,” said Mr. Modi. The PM also said that both sides have agreed to boost defence industries and military links. 

“We have decided that even at the level of our National Security Advisors, there should be an institutional platform for dialogue,” said Mr. Modi. As part of the planning to have the migration mobility agreement, Mr Modi said, both sides will promote cultural and academic exchanges between educational institutions and increase people-to-people contacts. Mr. Mitsotakis reminded that the last Indian Prime Minister to visit Greece was Indira Gandhi who toured Athens in 1983. He presented India-Greece ties from the days of Alexander the Great to the contemporary times and sought investment from Indian entities. 

 

“We agreed that we are fully committed to the objective of maintaining maritime security, to our commitment to International Law and to the Convention on the Law of the Sea - a critical issue given the common knowledge that concerns both the Eastern Mediterranean and the Indo-Pacific Ocean,” said PM Mitsotakis. The comment showed that the Greek leader found a common thread running between the threats over the South China Sea and the Eastern Mediterranean where Greece’s maritime dispute with Turkey has often irritated Athens.

The territorial problems in the Eastern Mediterranean are known to stretch back to the Treaty of Lausanne of 1923, the final treaty in a series that ended the World War I. Mr. Mitsotakis congratulated India on the successful Chandrayaan-3 mission and said, “Today, the most populous, the largest democracy on the planet is hosted by the first democracy on earth. The omens, therefore, are very favourable.” 

Speaking to Greek newspaper Kathimereni, Mr. Modi recognised the potential of Greece as a point of entry for Indian companies into Europe. “Given its location and our historically close ties, I see Greece as an important economic, logistic, and strategic gateway for India into the European Union and the Eastern European region in general,” said Mr. Modi in an interview to the newspaper.

He also invited PM Mitsotakis to visit India in the near future. During the day-long visit, Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou who bestowed upon Mr. Modi the Grand Cross of the Order of Honor.

At the end of the visit, PM Modi addressed the Indian community in Athens at an event and presented the priority schemes of his government in India that he said are helping farmers, women, and the youth. “Greece is the place where Olympics was born which has gained great popularity among our young people,” said PM Modi who praised athlete Neeraj Chopra for his Olympic gold.

 

PTI adds:

Mr. Modi arrived in the Greek capital from South Africa where he attended the 15th BRICS Summit and held bilateral meetings with several world leaders to further cement India's relations with those countries.

He was received by Greek Foreign Minister George Gerapetritis at the airport.

 

After his arrival at the ancient city, Mr. Modi laid a wreath at the 'Tomb of the Unknown Soldier' in Athens.

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is a war memorial located in Syntagma Square in Athens, in front of the Old Royal Palace. It is a cenotaph dedicated to the Greek soldiers killed during various wars.

Thereafter, he was accorded a Ceremonial Guard of Honour.

As Mr. Modi reached his hotel in Athens, amid beats of drums and chants of 'Vande Mataram', the Prime Minister received a rousing welcome from the Indian diaspora who had gathered there in large numbers.

Holding tricolour, many of them took selfies, and autographs and shook hands with the prime minister.

The last high-level visit to Greece took place in September 1983 when then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi travelled to the country.

India and Greece enjoy civilisational ties, which have strengthened in recent years through cooperation in areas like maritime transport, defence, trade and investments and people-to-people ties.

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