Context:

India and Greece have held discussions over the situation in Cyprus during the visit of External Affairs Minister to Athens.

The Ministry of External Affairs said both sides emphasised upon respect of sovereignty and territorial integrity by all members of the international community.

Relevance:

GS-II: International Relations (Important Foreign Policies and Developments affecting India’s Interests)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Greece–India relations
  2. About Turkey-Greece Stand-off
  3. New diplomatic campaign by Athens
  4. Conclusion

Greece–India relations

Historical relations

  • For the Ancient Greeks “India” meant only the upper Indus and they referred to the Indians as “Indói” literally meaning “the people of the Indus River”, till the time of Alexander the Great. Afterwards, “India” meant to the Greeks most of the northern half of the Indian subcontinent.
  • There is now tangible evidence indicating that the settlement of Greek merchants in Bengal must have begun as early as the beginning of the seventeenth century.
  • Dimitrios Galanos (1760–1833) was the earliest recorded Greek Indologist and he translated Sanskrit texts into Greek.
  • Greek and Indian civilizations survived the test of times when others went into the pages of history permanently, such as the Babylonians.
  • But despite these thousands of years of history, Greece and India have not quite reached the glories of their ancient forefathers just yet due to centuries of foreign invasions and colonialism that saw untold riches leave the shores of the Indian subcontinent and the Greek peninsula to the treasuries of foreign conquerors.

Greece and India sharing Invaders

  • From the 1200s, Indians experienced the brutality of various conquering Turkic warlords, followed by the Mughals, and then finally the British.
  • Greeks, too, have experienced over a millennium of warfare against various Turkic tribes, most prominently the Ottomans, who just like the British in India, drained Greeks of their wealth, leaving Greece backwards, destitute and underdeveloped when it achieved independence in 1821.
  • In fact, it was these conquering Turkic tribes that disconnected Greek and Indian civilizations from each for nearly a thousand years.

Modern relations

  • Modern Relations between Greece and India started in May 1950 and India opened its resident Embassy in Athens only by 1978.
  • India and Greece enjoy close bilateral relations and annual bilateral trade stands at $0.70 billion.
  • India has been an honored country at the 74th (2009) and the 84th (2019) Thessaloniki International Fair.
  • The Greek Foreign Ministry describes the Indian-Greek friendship as “excellent, with relations being multifaceted, harmonious and warm, as the two peoples are linked by close ties of friendship and mutual cooperation, and represent ancient cultures.”
  • This close relationship was reflected in a busy 2020 that saw relationship building between Athens and New Delhi reach unprecedented heights despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • It was recently announced that a direct air flight between Athens and India will be established. This will allow Greece to benefit from India’s burgeoning middle class who are increasingly traveling abroad for pleasure.

About Turkey-Greece Stand-off

  • The European Union (EU) and its allies in West Asia and North Africa made plans to build a gas pipeline from the Mediterranean to Europe’s mainland to transport the gas. However, they had kept Turkey out of it, which had infuriated Turkey.
  • Turkey challenged the EU pipeline project and reached an agreement with Libya to form an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) from its southern shores to Libya’s northern coast across the Mediterranean.
  • However, Greece claimed the Turkish zone violated its maritime sovereignty and later announced its EEZ with Egypt, which clashed with Turkey’s zone.
  • Turkey and Greece, vehemently disagree over overlapping claims to hydrocarbon resources in the region based on conflicting views on the extent of their continental shelves in waters dotted with mostly Greek islands.
  • The highly complicated issue now has the potential to involve Europe, West Asia and North Africa.

New diplomatic campaign by Athens: From the Mediterranean to India

  • There is a new diplomatic campaign by Athens that extends from the Mediterranean to India.
  • One of the goals of Greek diplomacy for 2021 is the continuation and expansion of cooperation with countries that share the same views with Greece on the problems that exist not only in the eastern Mediterranean, but in the region in general, and for their resolution based on International Law.
  • This enlargement, which has been set as a goal by the Greek Foreign Minister, will be carried out, according to information, with the creation of an arc of states starting from the southeastern Mediterranean, with the participation of Greece, Cyprus, Egypt and Israel, and pass into the Persian Gulf, with the participation of the United Arab Emirates, and will extend as far as India.
  • Essentially, this move is the evolution of tripartite agreements in which Greece participates and will be a resounding message to Turkey.
  • The next diplomatic goal of Greek is, according to information from Dimokratia, the renewal of Greece’s defense cooperation with the United States, which will be achieved by expanding the American military footprint in our region to existing Greek military installations.

Conclusion

  • It is on the basis of our ancient ties in exchanging ideas, knowledge and philosophy that today’s relationship between Greece and India should be built upon.
  • With India rising to Great Power status on the global stage and Greece having the most formidable military and exciting economic prospects in the East Mediterranean region, the time is ripe for Indian-Greek relations to flourish.
  • Although Greece and India want a peaceful rise to achieve economic prosperity for the betterment of citizens, both countries face revisionist and aggressive neighbours who are increasingly adopting Turkic medieval conquering ideology that not only bloats their own military budget, but that of their neighbours.
  • Greek and Indian ties are far deeper, richer and historical to only be viewed as a friendship of convenience to counter the collective threats posed by the Turkish-Pakistani expansionist axis. But there is no hiding that this must be one of the immediate and more critical components of this expanding relationship.

-Source: The Hindu

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