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With bonds dating back to Alexander the Great, Greece wants to forge a special relationship with India

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with the Prime Minister of Greece, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, in New York, on September 27, 2019 (File image courtesy: PIB)

Having civilizational linkages with India dating back to more than 2500 years ago, Greece on Wednesday said that it wants to turn the historical relationship between the two countries into a strategic partnership.

The close and friendly connection rooted in a rich historical past was highlighted once again when Nikos Dendias, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Greece, met with India's External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar in Delhi today.  

"I have to be honest with you from the beginning. We aspire our relation to become a strategic one, and I hope that Prime Minister Modi and Prime Minister Mitsotakis will meet shortly exactly for that purpose," said Dendias.

Greece is celebrating 200 years since the beginning of the Greek Revolution in 1821 which led to the creation of the modern Greek state in 1830.
"I have to say also, it is 75 years for you, and 200 years for us, but we also share the fact that we are the first and you are by far the biggest democracy in the world. A very proud democracy," added Dendias.  

That the two countries, which share common approaches to many international issues, are working on a mutual strategic and economic partnership is evident given the fact that this was the third meeting between both the foreign ministers in less than a year which Dendias said "says something".


Nikos Dendias, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Greece, with India's External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar in Delhi on Wednesday (Image courtesy: Twitter/DrSJaishankar)

On the occasion of the 200th anniversary of Greek independence, Jaishankar had visited Athens in June last year, paying a courtesy call on Greek PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis besides also having bilateral talks with his counterpart.

"We see many things in a very similar way: the International Law, sovereignty, human rights, prohibition of use of force and our shared commitment to International Law of the Sea, to UNCLOS. This and also maritime security is very important to us," said the Greek minister in Delhi today.

Besides holding discussions on the Ukraine conflict, Dendias also briefed Jaishankar today on the situation in Eastern Mediterranean, Cyprus and all other important issues in the region, saying that it was a "great opportunity" to hear the way a "big power like India" sees things.

Jaishankar later tweeted, stating that he "benefitted from insights on the Ukraine situation, Mediterranean and the European Union" and that the two countries will work closely together on maritime issues.

"A warm and friendly discussion with FM Dendias of Greece. Signed Declaration of Intent on Migration and Mobility and Cultural and Educational Exchange Programme. Welcomed Greece's ratification of its membership of the International Solar Alliance," the EAM mentioned.

Greece has for the past many years accused Turkey of violating the International Law and the Convention on the Law of the Sea in the Aegean and in the Eastern Mediterranean. It has also accused Ankara of violating the sovereign rights of Greece by carrying hundreds of flights over the Greek territory. 


(Image courtesy: Twitter/@GreeceMFA)

After talks with Jaishankar, the Greek Foreign Minister met Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu before addressing the Chair of Greek Studies at the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) in the evening.

"You all know that Greece and India share historical ties since Antiquity. Our relations date even before Alexander the Great," Dendias told the gathering at the university.

He emphasised that both India and Greece are oriented towards the oceans and the sea as a space guaranteeing unhindered communication among countries and people.

He welcomed India's Indo-Pacific Oceans' Initiative (IPOI), saying that the region will "shape the trajectory of global politics" in the years to come and New Delhi and Athens – having the largest merchant fleet in the world – can work together in their quest for a prosperous, peaceful and rules-based Indo-Pacific.


(Image courtesy: Twitter/@GreeceMFA)

"Two maritime areas of immediate interest for India and Greece are the Indo-Pacific region and the Mediterranean Sea, in particular for Greece the Eastern Mediterranean Sea. It is our common belief that the promotion and respect of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, or UNCLOS as we call it, is the cornerstone to enhance stability in these regions," Dendias said at JNU. The formulation aligns with India's position on the South China Sea disputes and guranteeing a free and open Indo-Pacific region. 

Also Read: Facing ‘serious challenges’ from neighbours, India and Greece fast track Strategic Partnership