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What Prime Minister Narendra Modi Wants To Achieve By Enhancing Ties With Greece

The diplomatic relations between India and Greece were established in May 1950 while India opened its resident Embassy in Athens 28 years later in March 1978. Five years later, then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi visited Greece in 1983. But, the bilateral relations between the two nations progressed gradually with no successive Prime Ministers visiting the European nation for the next 40 years until 2023 when Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited the country on his Greece counterpart Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ invitation. Since then, the two nations have been working to develop closer and stronger ties. To further bolster ties and combat regional challenges, India invited Greece’s PM on a state visit. 

PM Modi On Greece Ties

Greece PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis is currently on a state visit to India. India and Greece have formed a working group to increase mutual coordination on common challenges like defence, cyber security, counter-terrorism, and maritime security. The joint working group on defence could lead to India’s larger presence in the Mediterranean Sea, thus making India the third key partner in the Sea along with Italy and Egypt. In the words of Prime Minister Modi, “New opportunities for co-production and co-development are being created in defence manufacturing in India, which can be beneficial for both countries. We have agreed to link the defence industries of both countries. India and Greece have common concerns and priorities in the fight against terrorism. We discussed in detail how to further strengthen our cooperation in this area.”

India A Great Power, Says PM Mitsotakis 

On the other hand, PM Mitsotakis termed India as a great power on the world stage. He said that India is an important ally in the pursuit of peace and security. “Greece’s geographic and strategic proximity makes it an interlocutor between India and Europe, and between the Global North and the South….Greece presents vast opportunities as a logistics centre and international gateway, facilitating connectivity and trade between India, the Middle East, and Europe,” said PM Mitsotakis. He added that India and Greece must work together to promote peace and stability through projects like the India-Middle East-Europe Corridor, which can bring about prosperity for all participating countries.

Why Does Greece Matter To India?

India is currently the world’s fastest-growing major economy and if it wants to maintain the pace of its growth, then foreign trade becomes a crucial factor. With China growing its influence in the Indian Ocean as well as in the Mediterranean Sea, India cannot sit back and watch the developments like a wallflower. 

Counter To China

China has extended its influence in the region, notably by fostering connections with Greece. Through its Belt & Road Initiative, China has invested in infrastructure projects such as Greece’s Piraeus port, ranking among the world’s largest ports. Concurrently, India is actively pursuing an increased presence in the area, with reports indicating that companies like Adani are exploring investment opportunities in Greek ports.

Unpredictable Turkey

The relationship between India and Greece with Turkey, a regional heavyweight, is marked by complexity. Turkey’s proximity to Pakistan and its opposition to India’s Kashmir policy have acted as obstacles to closer ties between India and Ankara. Similarly, Greece has a historically challenging relationship with Turkey, characterized by conflicts over maritime boundaries and energy resources. The two nations have faced tensions as they contend for control in these strategic areas. These intricate dynamics contribute to the nuanced geopolitical landscape involving India, Greece, and Turkey.

Growing Trade, Solidifying Presence

Greece stands as one of the significant maritime forces bordering the Mediterranean Sea. This sea serves as a vital conduit for global trade, linking Europe and America with key economies such as India, China, and Japan. Approximately 12-15% of the world’s maritime traffic traverses the Mediterranean Sea, underscoring its strategic importance. Notably, Russia, the United States, and France uphold robust military presences in this region, contributing to its geopolitical dynamics.

With India’s growing economy, European markets have gained heightened significance. In response, India is actively progressing with the India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor, establishing a connectivity network linking New Delhi to these regions via a combination of ship and rail routes. In this ambitious project, Greece assumes a pivotal role as a crucial link.

A shared objective is to double bilateral trade between India and Greece by the year 2030. Additionally, reports indicate that India is seeking Greece’s collaboration in the modernization efforts within its shipping sector, further strengthening the ties between the two nations.

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