Old ties – India and Greece upgrade ties to strategic partnership | 29 August 2023 | UPSC Daily Editorial Analysis

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What's the article about?

  • It talks about reviving India-Greece relations.


  • GS2: IR – Bilateral, Regional and Global Groupings and Agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests – India-Greece


  • India and Greece have upgraded their bilateral relations to a strategic partnership during Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Greece in August 2023.
  • The two countries have pledged to double their two-way trade by 2030, which stood at nearly $2 billion in 2022-23.
  • The strategic partnership aims to strengthen ties in areas such as national security, migration, and mobility partnership, and cooperation to complete negotiations for the India-European Union (EU) Free Trade Negotiation on Connectivity partnership.


Map of Greece

  • Greece, officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country in Southeast Europe, situated on the southern tip of the Balkan peninsula.
  • Greece shares land borders with Albania to the northwest, North Macedonia and Bulgaria to the north, and Turkey to the east. The Aegean Sea lies to the east of the mainland, the Ionian Sea to the west, and the Sea of Crete and the Mediterranean Sea to the south.
  • Greece has the longest coastline on the Mediterranean Basin, featuring thousands of islands.
  • The country consists of nine traditional geographic regions, and has a population of approximately 10.5 million.
  • Athens is the nation's capital and largest city, followed by Thessaloniki and Patras.
  • Greece is considered the cradle of Western civilization, being the birthplace of democracy, Western philosophy, Western literature, historiography, political science, major scientific and mathematical principles, theatre and the Olympic Games.


  • Historical background of India-Greece relations:
    • Diplomatic relations between Greece and India started in May 1950, and India opened its resident embassy in Athens in March 1978.
    • The two countries share a warm relationship based on a common commitment to democracy, peace, and development in the world and to a social system imbued with principles of justice and equality.
    • Interaction between India and Greece goes back to antiquity, and in modern times, the two countries have developed a warm relationship based on cultural exchanges and a common commitment to many international issues, such as UN reforms and Cyprus.
  • Recent developments in India-Greece relations:
    • The absence of high-level contact between India and Greece has meant a lack of close strategic ties in the way India has with other nearby countries in Europe such as France, Spain, Italy, and Cyprus.
    • However, in recent years, Greece has given a push to revitalizing relations with India against the backdrop of the European Union's growing engagement with New Delhi.
    • India and Greece have engaged in joint naval exercises in the Mediterranean Sea, and Greece has traditionally backed India's position on the Kashmir issue.
    • In June 2021, India's Minister of External Affairs S. Jaishankar visited Greece, and in August 2023, Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Greece, which came shortly after Greece's Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis's re-election in June.
    • During Modi's visit, India and Greece agreed to establish a “Strategic Partnership” and announced plans for a dialogue mechanism between their National Security Advisers apart from plans for a skilled migration and mobility partnership.
      What is the significance of India and Greece establishing a strategic partnership?

      • The establishment of a strategic partnership between India and Greece is significant for several reasons:
      • It elevates the bilateral relationship between the two countries to a higher level, indicating a commitment to closer cooperation and collaboration.
      • It provides a framework for regular high-level dialogue and cooperation on a range of issues, including security, trade, investment, and people-to-people exchanges.
      • It enables India to diversify its options in the Eastern Mediterranean region and find common ground with Greece, Israel, and Cyprus, given Delhi-Ankara tensions over Turkey's role in the OIC and over Kashmir.
      • It allows India to leverage Greece's position as a “gateway to Europe” and explore opportunities for greater economic engagement, including a free trade pact between India and the EU.
      • It helps India to become a pivotal player in the evolving global order, uniting key seas and continents.
      • It builds on the ancient and strong ties between the two countries, which share a common heritage and culture, and have faced similar challenges in the past.
      • It demonstrates India's commitment to restoring historical artefacts and promoting cultural diplomacy, in partnership with Greece and other countries.
      • It sends a positive signal to the international community about the importance of multilateralism, democracy, and the rule of law, which are shared values of India and Greece.
  • Significance of India-Greece relations:
    • India and Greece share common interests in pushing legislation through UNESCO to help restore some of their historical property.
    • Their strategic ties have a strong geopolitical impetus as well.
    • Greece, which has overcome several years as an “economic trouble-spot” and once over-indebted to Chinese investment, seeks to diversify its options.
    • In Greece's strengthened ties with Israel and Cyprus, India might find some common ground, given Delhi-Ankara tensions over Turkey's role in the OIC and over Kashmir.
    • Greece and India, once ancient maritime powers, face concerns over the maintenance of maritime security in keeping with international laws.
    • Greece's potential as India's gateway to Europe has been highlighted, and both countries aim to double their bilateral trade by 2030.
  • Challenges in India-Greece relations:
    • Despite the warm relationship between India and Greece, there are challenges in their bilateral relations.
    • Greece still has the second-lowest level of GDP per capita in the EU after Bulgaria, and India has to compete with other countries such as China, Russia, and the US for Greece's attention.
    • Moreover, India's relations with Turkey, Azerbaijan, and Pakistan unsettle Greece, and Greece's relations with Turkey and Cyprus unsettle India.

Way Forward:

  • The strategic partnership between India and Greece signifies their shared commitment to their relationship and the need for a reenergized approach to enhancing their bilateral relationship.
  • The institutional mechanism of a strategic partnership will enable the world's largest and oldest democracies to translate their many areas of convergence into concrete outcomes.
  • India and Greece should focus on enhancing cooperation in areas such as defence, space, shipping, and sustainable development.
  • They should also work towards enhancing people-to-people ties, cultural exchanges, and tourism.
  • Finally, India and Greece should continue to support each other on issues such as UN reforms, Cyprus, and terrorism.

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