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Greece and India Aim to Strengthen Ties in Modi’s Visit to Athens

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Narendra Modi meets Kyriakos Mitsotakis in Athens. Credit: Press Office of the Greek PM

Greece and India have vowed to strengthen their relations during the visit of PM Narendra Modi to Athens on Friday, the first by an Indian leader in four decades.

Greece is the eastern gateway to Europe and offers a huge opportunity to India, as the European country that is closest to this great economic superpower, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Friday after his meeting with Modi.

The first goal – as the prime minister said – is to double, within the next four years, bilateral trade with India, which has significant room for improvement.

Mitsotakis also emphasized that Greece’s relationship with India is turning into a relationship of strategic importance.

“There is so much more we can do together. From economy and defense to tourism and culture, cooperation in the agricultural sector to joint defense against the consequences of climate change,” Mitsotakis underlined.

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Credit: Press Office of the Greek PM

On his part, Narendra Modi expressed his condolences for the loss of human lives in the wildfires in Greece.

“It is normal for Greece and India to have a friendly relationship. They have ancient commercial and cultural relations. The basis of our relations is strong and ancient,” he said.

The Indian prime minister underlined that they have synergy on a number of issues. “As friends we understand and respect each other’s feelings. Today, we decided to upgrade our relationship to a strategy. To strengthen our cooperation in defense, security, infrastructure, education.

“In the field of defense and security, we agreed to strengthen our military relations and defense industries as well,” he added, among other things.

Modi stressed that there is huge potential for doubling bilateral trade by 2030. “We can elevate our economic and industrial cooperation,” he added.

Narendra Modi noted that an agreement on mobility and migration will be signed soon. “We will promote culture and educational relations between our educational institutions,” he continued while saying that Greece supports India’s trade agreements.

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Modi said that ties with Greece have been strengthened by shared values of democracy, rule of law, and pluralism. Credit: Twitter/Narendra Modi

Modi arrived in Athens from the BRICS Summit in South Africa and was welcomed by Greek Foreign Minister Giorgos Gerapetritis. “Looking forward to a productive Greece visit aimed at deepening India-Greece friendship,” he tweeted upon landing.

The visit is being viewed as a way to open new ways for further strengthening trade, business, investment, and defense relations. Greece wants to improve bilateral ties on a commercial and economic basis.

Tellingly, bilateral trade reached a peak of 1.32 billion euros in 2022, the greatest level in the previous five years, up by fifty-eight percent.

Aside from the heavy manufacturing sector in India, which is eager to enter the European market via Greece, other sectors with rapid growth in India, including technology, pharmaceuticals, aerospace, energy, tourism, shipping, mining and food, are also interested in forming business partnerships.

Reports say that India is also exploring the possibility of using Greece’s Port of Piraeus for its European exports.

In the past decade, India has strengthened ties with Greece, as its interests expand from the Indian Ocean to the Eastern Mediterranean. Indeed, India’s economic security is linked to the control of sea routes connecting Europe and India, Maritime Executive reports.

As of last year, the bilateral trade between the EU and India was at historical highs, with $130 billion worth of goods traded. The growth of this segment for India is thought to be behind India’s commitment to have the Arab-Med corridor to Europe functional as soon as possible, the specialist publication adds.

“We really want to act as India’s gateway to Europe,” Greece Charge d’affaires Alexandros Boudouris told the Times of India. “And we are ready for it, offering a comprehensive privatization scheme that includes seaports and airports and logistics hubs for Indian investors to start the gateway.”

Greece and India in a higher orbit of cooperation

Modi’s visit to Greece is set to take the bilateral relationship to a much higher orbit of cooperation in the strategic domain.

In a statement, Modi underscored, “Our ties have been strengthened by shared values of democracy, rule of law and pluralism and cooperation in diverse sectors such as trade and investment, [defense] and cultural people to people contacts have been bringing our two countries closer together.”

India and Greece enjoy a high level of political trust encompassing strategic contours of the bilateral relationship, a former senior Indian diplomat writes.

“Both are sensitive and supportive to each other’s core concerns,” Anil Trigunayat says in an article published at First Post.

“Athens stood by New Delhi during the trying times in 1998 when India faced sanctions from the Western world,” Trigunayat adds. “Not only that, their Defence Minister travelled to India and signed an MoU for Defence Cooperation.

“It also supported India on the Jammu and Kashmir issue while commiserating with it in countering terrorism and confronting perpetrators of cross-border terrorism.

“India also supports the Greek stance on the Cyprus issue. Athens supports the Indian quest for the UN Security Council permanent seat…Space and Shipping are sunrise sectors of cooperation for both countries,” Trigunayat says.

Related: Ancient Greeks of India: The Final Stand of Hellenism

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