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Modi’s Greece Visit Aligns With India’s Maritime Strategy

The Indo-Pacific region and the Mediterranean Sea remain two maritime areas of immediate interest for India and Greece – the formulation also aligning with India’s position on the South China Sea disputes and guranteeing a free and open Indo-Pacific, a report by Ateet Sharma

Opening a new chapter in their more than 2500-year-old relationship, India and Greece on Friday elevated bilateral relationship to the level of a strategic partnership, with an eye on rebooting political, security and economic ties.

The decision was taken during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s one-day visit to the Mediterranean country – the first by an Indian Prime Minister in 40 years – and his one-on-one and delegation-level talks with Greek counterpart Kyriakos Mitsotakis in Athens.

The Joint Statement issued after their meeting mentioned that the both leaders, while acknowledging the shared historical linkages going back to antiquity, agreed that a “reenergised approach” to enhancing bilateral relationship is required at a time when the global order is undergoing unprecedented changes.

“Held very fruitful talks with Greece Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis in Athens. We have decided to raise our bilateral relations to a ‘Strategic Partnership’ for the benefit of our people. Our talks covered sectors such as defence, security, infrastructure, agriculture, skills and more,” tweeted PM Modi after direct talks.

In June 2021, spotlighted that after facing an identical and serious challenge from their respective neighbouring countries, India and Greece have begun work towards the establishment of a strategic partnership, opening up new perspectives for the consolidation and upgrading of relations between both the countries in a number of areas of common interest.

PM Modi at a business lunch hosted by the Prime Minister of Greece, Kyriakos Mitsotakis at Athens, in Greece on August 25, 2023.

In the post-Covid era, Greece not only supports India’s quest for a permanent seat in an expanded UN Security Council but also reflects New Delhi’s concerns on terrorism sponsored and supported from across the border in Jammu and Kashmir.

On the other hand, Athens has thanked India for the special and constructive role it has undertaken over time on its issue of core national interest, such as Cyprus.

Greece has for the past many years slammed Turkey for violating the International Law and the Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) 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.

The Indo-Pacific region and the Mediterranean Sea thus remain two maritime areas of immediate interest for India and Greece – the formulation also aligning with India’s position on the South China Sea disputes and guranteeing a free and open Indo-Pacific.

“We agreed that we are fully united in the goal of maintaining maritime security, in our adherence to International Law and the Convention on the Law of the Sea – a crucial field given the common facts that concern both the Eastern Mediterranean and the Indo-Pacific Ocean,” said Mitsotakis with PM Modi standing by his side in Athens on Friday.

Building on the security ties, the two leaders indicated that a National Security Advisor (NSA)-level dialogue platform could soon be established between India and Greece.

Calling his meeting with PM Modi “a new starting point” in the relations between the two countries, the Greece leader reflected that it is a very important moment in the common path and ties that have united both countries for many centuries – from the ancient trade routes and the march of Alexander the Great to the philosophical quests that shaped cultures.

“There is, moreover, a very dynamic Indian community, which lives peacefully and works in our country. I saw that many of them greeted you with great enthusiasm this morning when you arrived at the hotel, for I have no doubt that your state now possesses the size of a veritable Asiatic giant. Ours, however, is the dynamic gateway, the eastern gateway of Europe, a huge opportunity for India, as the continental European country closest to this great economic superpower,” remarked Mitsotakis.

PM Modi and Mitsotakis also emphasised that deepening relations between India and the European Union would be mutually beneficial and have a positive regional and global impact.

Noting that India and the EU have the largest democratic and free market space in the world, the two PMs expressed their strong support for the ongoing India-EU trade and investment negotiations and the early implementation of the India-EU Connectivity Partnership.

Hoping for an early finalisation of a mutually beneficial Mobility and Migration Partnership Agreement (MMPA) that would facilitate free movement of workforce between the two countries, both leaders directed their senior officials to ensure regular dialogue in the areas including political, economic, defence, security and public diplomacy.


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