Greek FM Nikos Dendias said India, Greece and the United Arab Emirates would establish a trilateral dialogue; hits Turkey and India
Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias said India, Greece and the United Arab Emirates will soon establish a trilateral dialogue even as Athens strives to “develop a strategic partnership” with New Delhi.
Speaking exclusively to WION’s senior diplomatic correspondent Sidhant Sibal in Athens, Foreign Minister Nikos said: “Greece, as an EU member state, has the capacity to act as a bridge between the European Union and India “.
Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar recently visited Greece, becoming the first Indian Foreign Minister to visit the country in 18 years. During this visit, Greece officially joined India, the leader and seat of the International Solar Alliance.
His Greek counterpart Nikos Dendias also denounced Turkey, saying that the country “is increasingly playing the religious card in order to advance its geopolitical agenda”, which is a “worrying trend”.
He explained that “Turkey threatens Greece with war if Greece exercises its inherent sovereign rights” and does not “respect the fundamental principles of international law, including the fundamental provisions of the Charter of the United Nations”.
WION: What was the main objective when you met with EAM India? It was after 18 years that an Indian EAM visited Greece. What was the key result in terms of strengthening India-Greece relations?
Nikos Dendias: Precisely as you mentioned, this was the first visit by an Indian Foreign Minister to Athens in almost two decades. This visit was long overdue. And I look forward to visiting New Delhi in the near future.
At first glance, Greece and India may seem to have little in common. India is an emerging world power, with nearly 1.4 billion people. Greece has nearly 11 million inhabitants. Geographically, we are far apart.
However, such an approach is superficial and ignores the many elements that unite us. Greece is the cradle of democracy. India is the largest democracy in the world.
The two countries share the same principles. Respect for international law, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, the peaceful settlement of disputes, as well as non-interference in the internal affairs of other States.
During our discussions, we touched on major international developments. But we also discussed the need to strengthen our bilateral relations. Through regular political dialogue, as well as people-to-people contacts, including in the fields of trade and culture. Our goal is to develop a strategic partnership that reflects the level of our bilateral relations.
We will work together over the next few months to finalize a series of agreements which, unfortunately, have been on hold for years. Let me also add another important dimension: Greece, as an EU Member State, has the capacity to act as a bridge between the European Union and India. In this regard, we fully support the further strengthening of EU-India relations. Last but not least, the visit of my counterpart Dr. Jaishankar was an opportunity to unveil the statue in Athens of an imposing figure of the 20th century, Mahatma Gandhi.
WION: You joined the International Solar Alliance. How do you see the alliance at a time when climate change has been of greatest concern?
Nikos Dendias: This is a very important initiative undertaken by Indian Prime Minister Modi, together with then French President Hollande, which will help address the biggest global challenge our planet faces, namely climate change. We welcome this initiative and are very happy to be associated with it.
The government, under the leadership of Prime Minister Mitsotakis, is taking a series of initiatives to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, as well as to increase the use of renewable energy sources. Greece, being a country blessed by the sun, has the potential to take advantage of solar energy. In this regard, our participation in the Solar Alliance will help us achieve our goals.
WION: You both talked about the UN reforms, do you think that’s a possibility given the resistance from some countries like China. Also, your neighbor Turkey, which is part of the coffee group (along with Pakistan) opposed to India’s offer.
Nikos Dendias: Greece supports the reform of the UN, including the expansion of the UN Security Council, as well as other multilateral institutions, to make them more inclusive, transparent, accountable and reflect the geopolitical realities of ‘today. Let me take this opportunity to welcome India’s participation in the Security Council, where it has been sitting since January of this year and will chair it in a few weeks. Let me also point out that Greece has also applied for a non-permanent seat for the period 2025-2026. India’s support for our candidacy will be of utmost importance.
WION: You mentioned the Eastern Mediterranean, Cyprus and Libya. Can you clarify the type of discussion that took place?
Nikos Dendias: I took the opportunity to brief my counterpart on developments in Greece’s neighboring region. Geographically speaking, this region can be very remote from India. However, in a globalized world, in which India is playing an increasingly important role, distances are shrinking.
Therefore, I emphasized that what happens in this part of the world has an effect in other parts of the world. I stressed that the pursuit of aggressive and revisionist policies by one state in particular destabilizes not only the immediate neighborhood, but also the region at large. I also pointed out that the state in question uses religious affinities in its attempt to rekindle dreams of empire. Or rather, the ghosts of the past.
I also commended India’s contribution to the United Nations peacekeeping force in Cyprus, as well as India’s efforts, as the leader of the non-aligned movement to achieve a just solution. and lasting to the Cyprus question in accordance with the provisions of the relevant United Nations Security Council. Resolutions. It is a bizonal, bicommunity federation.
In addition, opportunities for new programs are emerging. And we want India to be actively engaged in it. We have developed a strategic partnership with the United Arab Emirates. And we look forward to establishing a trilateral dialogue [including India] in the near future.
WION: How much Turkey has been discussed with India. What has been India’s response?
Nikos Dendias: Let me start with your second question. I cannot speak for India. However, on my side, apart from the outline of Turkey [neo-Ottoman] ambitions in the region, as well as its [aggressive] behavior against almost all of its neighbors, it is necessary to emphasize two points, which should also be of concern to India.
First, Turkey is trying to establish a permanent military presence in many countries. This could be a destabilizing factor.
Second, Turkey is increasingly playing the religious card to advance its geopolitical agenda. We have seen examples of this in our immediate neighborhood, in the Balkans and the Eastern Mediterranean, but increasingly in other parts of the world as well. Especially in Africa, especially in East Africa. It is a disturbing trend.
WION: How much of a concern do you think Turkey has been for you in the region. And how much do you think India can be an ally in the cause that brings New Delhi and Athens closer together?
Nikos Dendias: The biggest challenge Turkey poses, not only to Greece, but to the entire region, is that it does not respect the fundamental principles of international law, including the fundamental provisions of the Charter of the United Nations. It threatens Greece with war, if Greece exercises its inherent sovereign rights.
Moreover, Turkey refuses to tackle the only bilateral problem it has with Greece on the basis of international law. The challenge is not Turkey as a country. It is the fact that Turkey refuses to comply with the rules defined and accepted by the international community. In this regard, India, a country which respects these rules, can play a major role at the international level.
WION: How do you see the Indo-Pacific vision? The joint press release mentioned the term.
Nikos Dendias: Greece is a maritime nation. And we defend basic principles such as freedom of navigation and respect for the international law of the sea. In this vein, we highly appreciate the fact that the Quad Leaders meeting which took place, virtually, a few months ago , underlined these principles, which in turn were specifically mentioned in the Communiqué.
Let me conclude by emphasizing one more point: India has concluded agreements with almost all of its neighbors on the delimitation of exclusive economic zones on the basis of international law. In one case, with Bangladesh, India took the matter to the International Court of Justice. This accurately reflects Greece’s position on the matter.
Only one of India’s neighbors still refuses to abide by these principles. Greece faces a similar situation where only one neighbor refuses to abide by the same rules.