Greek Foreign Minster Nikos Dendias made the first trip to Gabon of any Greek official on Friday, bringing with him 200,000 doses of coronavirus vaccines.
Meeting with Gabon President Ali Bongo Ondimba, Dendias stated to the press afterward that there was “a great deal of room for cooperation between Greece and Gabon” regarding the international law of the sea and maritime communications security. “It was for me a great joy and a great honor to be the first Greek minister to visit the country,” Dendias told reporters.
He also stated that other areas in which the two countries might cooperate in the future included the protection of the environment.
Dendias pointed out that Gabon is heavily forested and the African country has also done well in protecting its large population of elephants.
Greece donates 200,000 coronavirus vaccines to Gabon
Dendias and Ondimba also discussed investments and assistance that might be forthcoming from Greece in helping the nation to tackle Covid, on top of the 200,000 vaccine shots from the Greek government that Dendias delivered to the country earlier on Friday.
The Minister added that he had also conveyed an invitation from the President of the Hellenic Republic, Katerina Sakellaropoulou, inviting Gabon’s president to visit Greece.
#Gabon is the next destination of my trip to sub-Saharan Africa.
Starting my visit, I was welcomed by 🇬🇦 FM @pmoubelet & made a donation of 200,000 COVID19 vaccines, on behalf of 🇬🇷 govt.,reaffirming #Greece's commitment to share resources to fight pandemic. pic.twitter.com/Hz6qMwUgGh
— Nikos Dendias (@NikosDendias) November 26, 2021
“Relations between Greece and Gabon are emerging relations but we have a great interest in a fertile mutual ground to develop these relations,” Dendias said, noting that Gabon was elected as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council beginning in 2022, with the support of Greece.
Dendias meets with Lee White, Gabon’s Minister of Forests
In a bilateral meeting with Gabon’s Minister of Forests, Oceans, Environment and Climate Change Lee White, Dendias was briefed on the impact of climate change on security issues in Africa, including migration flows and access to basic goods, according to a Foreign Ministry tweet.
Dendias stressed that Greece is paying special attention to the issue of climate change and makes efforts to address it, the Ministry said.
The two ministers discussed the prospects of Greece-Gabon cooperation, especially in matters concerning the protection of the marine environment. Cooperation with African countries is part of European countries’ strategy to better understand the security challenges of climate change, the Ministry added.
Dendias’ statement issued after the high-level meetings acknowledged the fact that Friday’s visit was the first-ever meeting between a Greek foreign minister and Gabon officials.
He said in the statement “Relations between Greece and Gabon are developing relations. However, there exists a particularly interesting and fertile common ground to develop these relations, whether it be environmental protection, maritime safety or investment.”
Earlier in the week, Dendias had also visited the African nation of Ghana in the first such meeting in that country as well.
The donation is expected to augment the ongoing Covid-19 vaccination exercise in Ghana and help the government achieve its target of reaching 20 million people with the life-saving vaccine.
Handing over the consignment at the Kotoka International Airport in Accra, Dendias said the donation is “an expression of solidarity of Greece in Ghana and its people. Greece actively supports Ghana in fighting the pandemic.”
He added that it is important for countries to share their resources so together they can win the fight against the pandemic.
“This is our contribution to your effort to tackle the pandemic that affects us all. If we do not share our resources globally, we will not be able to deal with it.”
In his remarks after that meeting, Dendias said “Ghana is a member of the UNCLOS Group of Friends, it is a country that will become a member of the UN Security Council from January 1, 2022, and it is the fastest growing economy in West Africa with already more than 100 million of Greek investments.
“Consequently, my meeting with the Minister for Foreign Affairs this morning, and also with the President of the country this evening, is to be seen in the sense of deepening both political and economic relations.
“I think this is a very good start,” he concluded. “I believe that our country, Greece, needs to be present in sub-Saharan Africa as well. And also to be able to expound the issues of Africa in the European Union, as a country that is in greater proximity to this great developing continent.”