KIGALI, Rwanda – Greece is determined to establish closer relations with African countries, Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias said on Friday in joint statements after meeting with his Rwandan counterpart Vincent Biruta in Kigali.
“We want to strengthen our relations with African countries because, among others, Africa will be an economic powerhouse of the world. Some of the fastest-growing economies are on this beautiful continent,” Dendias said. He also highlighted the “thousands of Greeks who have migrated to Africa and established thriving Greek communities throughout the continent.”
The Greek foreign minister said that cooperation had to be strengthened with countries that shared the same values and principles, expressing his conviction that relations between countries must be governed by international law. He noted that respect of the Charter of the United Nations promotes a peaceful resolution of differences on the basis of international law, sending a message that the use of force or the threat of the use of force had no place in the 21st century.
Dendias noted that his visit to Rwanda was his first to sub-Saharan Africa and “long overdue”. He recollected the last agreement signed by Greece and Rwanda 35 years earlier and acknowledged that this had never been implemented, adding that this “was completely unacceptable.”
In a tweet after the meeting, he said this had focused on strengthening bilateral relations in areas of common interest, including economic cooperation, investments, green growth and tourism, as well as EU-Rwanda relations.
Dendias emphasised Rwanda’s importance to Greece as a gateway to Africa, saying its recovery after one of the worst genocides in human history made it a worldwide model for reconciliation, rebuilding and national unity. He also referred to his visit to the Kigali Genocide Monument, saying he had found it deeply moving.
He highlighted the potential for improving economic ties between the two countries “which are currently almost non-existent” as Rwanda was one of the best African destinations for business activity and a rapidly-growing economy.
He pointed to Rwanda’s contribution to UN peacekeeping missions and the important role it played in international organisations, such as the African Union and the global Francophonie Organisation.
“Today, the government of Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis wants to present tangible proof of its willingness to support the people and society of Rwanda,” he added, announcing that the Greek government will make a donation to finance projects related to the protection of journalists and press freedoms.
He also announced that 330,000 vaccines donated by Greece will be arriving from Athens on Friday.
During the visit, Dendias and Biruta signed two Memorandums of Understanding between the foreign ministries of Greece and Rwanda, one concerning political negotiations and the second concerning cooperation in diplomatic training.