ATHENS — Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias and India's External Affairs Minister Dr. Subrahmanyam Jaishankar on Saturday expressed a shared desire to further deepen bilateral relations between Greece and India, in joint statements after their meeting in Athens.
"It has been 18 years since the last visit by an Indian foreign minister to Athens. This does not at all reflect the real level of our partnership relationship," Dendias said, expressing hope that this will mark the start of a commitment to build a strong partnership between the two countries. He noted that this relationship, which Greece hopes will become a strategic relationship, is based on shared values and principles, such as respect for international law, the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and a peaceful resolution of differences.
"We believe that these principles must govern relations between countries and especially between neighbouring countries," he added.
Jaishankar, in a similar vein, noted that relations between the two countries should become "more ambitious" and he expressed India's desire for a more substantial and multi-faceted relationship with Greece, saying he looked forward to Dendias' visit to Delhi. He also noted that relations between Greece and India were based on shared convictions and common values and a similar way of viewing the world.
Earlier, the two ministers had concluded their meeting with the signature of an agreement by which Greece joined the International Solar Alliance, an Indian initiative to promote solar energy that more than 120 countries have joined.
During their meeting at the foreign ministry, Dendias briefed the Indian external affairs minister on developments in the Eastern Mediterranean, particularly the Cyprus problem, and thanked him for India's special and constructive role over the years. He said that Greece, as a major force in shipping, is especially concerned with freedom of navigation and respect for the law of the sea. In this context, he welcomed the statement by the Quad, in which India participates with the United States, Japan and Australia, referring to these principles.
Dendias then referred to the "similar opportunities and challenges" facing the two countries, which have both signed agreements to delineate their exclusive economic zones with neighbouring countries and, in the cases where this was not possible, have referred these differences to the international court at The Hague. He also emphasised the challenges both countries face from neighbouring countries that refuse to settle bilateral issues on the basis of international law and "threaten the use of force against neighbours, interfering in their domestic affairs".
He emphasised that the resolution of differences on the basis of international law was the only way and this must be understood by countries that refuse to accept this.
Dendias said his meeting with Jaishankar had examined the prospects of developing bilateral cooperation in trade, as well as energy and renewable energy sources, in line with the position of the Mitsotakis government for investment in green energy.
They also discussed cooperation within various other organisations in which India is a member, including the UN Security Council where India is a non-permanent member in 2021-2022 and Greece is a candidate member for 2025-2026. There was extensive discussion regarding India's relations with the EU, as well as other countries with which it has very friendly relations, such as United Arab Emirates.
Jaishankar emphasised the need to respect international law and thanked Greece for its solidarity during the second wave of the pandemic in India, while noting that his visit was an opportunity to convey a message of friendship on the bicentennial since the modern Greek state was established.
He said the meeting had examined ways to improve bilateral relations in depth, with a discussion on trade, investments, exchanges of various kinds, tourism, film, and others. The focus going forward will be to ensure the implementation of the various agreements that are signed for the expansion of cooperation between the two sides, he added.
He also noted their agreement on issues such as radicalisation and terrorism, as well as multilateral issues at the United Nations.
On Saturday evening at 19:30, Dendias and Jaishankar will attend the unveiling of a statue of Mahatma Gandhi in Athens, near the Indian embassy.