Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s official visit to Greece had multiple objectives that pushed the overall upgrade of Greece-India bilateral relations to a new strategic partnership. Something that Athens seems also to have desired. Upgrading the already very good political relations, developing strategic defense cooperation, resolving migrant and seasonal workforce issues, promoting cultural and academic relations and further developing economic ties by attracting investment were the main topics that dominated the discussions between the two countries.
Better economic ties, closer cultural linkages and stronger bond with the Indian diaspora…here are highlights from my Greece visit. pic.twitter.com/qqxjOKjvu6— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) August 26, 2023
The strong interest in improving economic relations was sealed by the participation of Greek and Indian businessmen in the working lunch, hosted by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis for his Indian counterpart and the delegation that accompanied him. From the Indian side, 8 leading businessmen, active in the food, construction, pharmaceutical and tourism sectors, attended, as well as the head of the Indian Trade and Investment Promotion Organization, while from the Greek side, among others, the President of BSE and the President of the Union of Shipowners, were present.
In his speech, the Greek Prime Minister placed special emphasis on the development of economic relations, saying “We will continue to work with the first objective of doubling our bilateral trade, which has significant room for improvement. Let’s proceed with initiatives that will bring the two peoples even closer, emphasizing economic cooperation and investments.”
Θα συνεχίσουμε να εργαζόμαστε, με πρώτο στόχο να διπλασιάσουμε το διμερές μας εμπόριο, το οποίο έχει σημαντικά περιθώρια βελτίωσης. Να προχωρήσουμε σε πρωτοβουλίες που θα φέρουν ακόμα πιο κοντά τους δύο λαούς, δίνοντας έμφαση στην οικονομική συνεργασία και στις επενδύσεις. pic.twitter.com/OmWVML8SQK— Prime Minister GR (@PrimeministerGR) August 25, 2023
In a similar mood were the statements of the Indian Prime Minister, who said: “Prime Minister Mitsotakis and I agreed that our trade ties should become even stronger. We have also decided to work towards an immigration and mobility partnership agreement in the future. We will also work to deepen the ties between our educational institutions.” At the same time, he urged the business community to take advantage of the positive momentum in India-Greece relations to further strengthen trade and economic ties.
Describing the results of Narendra Modi’s visit to Greece, Mr. Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs of India, said that the two Prime Ministers addressed a meeting with the CEOs of the Greek and Indian business community with the following highlights of the discussion:
- Doubling trade by 2030 from current levels.
- Greater partnerships in investment and manufacturing.
- Deepening of cooperation in the logistics sector, especially in shipping. In this context, the possibilities of cooperation in the field of green shipping were particularly emphasized.
- Collaboration in the field of traditional medicine, as well as conventional pharmaceuticals both in the field of processing and in research and development.
The two PMs also agreed to increase cooperation between the two countries in the field of technology. Both of them stressed that technology as technology, technology as services, technology as product, and technology as a base platform for cooperation could offer strong potential and significant opportunities for cooperation between the two countries and between the two economies.
The next area of cooperation that the two Prime Ministers focused on and talked about was interpersonal relations especially between the youth of the two countries in tourism and hospitality. They also agreed to start direct air connections between the two countries. Cooperation on migration and mobility was also discussed in order to examine and meet the skill needs of both countries.
The last area in the strategic relations and cooperation discussed was defense and security. The two leaders agreed that the national security advisers of the two countries would oversee a broader framework of cooperation that would include increased military exercises, as they do today, between the armed forces of the two countries as maritime countries – India in the Indo-Pacific and Greece in the Mediterranean – as well as cooperation in the field of manufacturing in the defense industry.
In the same spirit were the statements of the Greek Minister of Foreign Affairs Giorgos Gerapetritis, who speaking earlier to an Indian diplomatic correspondent emphasized the potential of a strategic partnership between maritime-oriented Greece and India. Gerapetritis envisions leveraging Greece’s maritime strength, including the renowned Piraeus port, as a gateway to Europe for India’s trade. “Our political relations are excellent, and we hope to further strengthen and expand our economic ties,” he said.
Analyzing the prospects of Greek-Indian economic relations, the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs for Economic Diplomacy, Costas Fragogiannis, in his article in the Athenian newspaper TA NEA, referred to the new, upgraded Strategic Partnership between Greece and India, stressing that “our country is achieving a more systematic and targeted cooperation with one of the largest and most dynamic economies in the world, and a country with an important role on the international stage”. Mr. Fragogiannis also highlighted the importance of India’s high interest in Greece, as it is a “gateway to Europe”. At the same time, he pointed out the special importance of the strengthening of economic relations with India for our country, due to the huge market it has for Greek products and services: “Because the Greek companies can invest in India, taking advantage of its technological development, the available workforce and the local market. And because Indian companies are interested in investing in Greece, thus approaching Europe and at the same time strengthening the Greek economy”.
“The greatest prospects for synergies and collaborations” according to the Deputy Minister “are found in research and technology, due to India’s high expertise in this sector as well as in Renewable Energy Sources, which are a high priority both for the two countries and globally. And of course, the field of shipping and maritime security has traditionally been a field of enhanced bilateral cooperation, where there are also opportunities to exploit innovation and new technologies.”
Finally, Mr. Fragogiannis referred to the upcoming business mission to India planned to take place in the next few months, following the meetings held in Athens between Greek and Indian leading businessmen, and expressed the hope that “targeted collaborations and business ventures will be promoted, which they will practically strengthen our bilateral economic relations”.