Dear Dr. Jaishankar,
It is a great pleasure to welcome you in Athens today. It has been 18 years since the last visit of the Indian Foreign Minister in Athens, something that does not reflect the true level of our partnership at all.
I had the opportunity and the great pleasure to discuss with my Indian counterpart a number of bilateral and international issues. Before continuing, I want to emphasize something which is extremely important.
The relationship between our two countries, a relationship we look forward to becoming a strategic one, is based on shared principles and values such as respect for International Law, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, that is, UNCLOS, and the peaceful settlement of disputes.
We believe that these principles should govern relations between countries, all the more between neighboring countries.
Greece and India, each in its own region, face similar opportunities and similar challenges. Both have co-signed agreements on the delimitation of their exclusive economic zone with neighbouring countries on the basis of the International Law of the Sea.
And when that was not possible, in both cases there was recourse to the International Court of Justice in The Hague.
Both Greece and India each face a serious challenge from a neighbouring country or countries. These countries refuse to resolve bilateral issues on the basis of International Law.
They threaten to use force against their neighbours, they interfere in internal affairs. However, I would like to make it clear that resolving disputes on the basis of International Law is the only way to proceed and this needs to be understood by countries that refuse to accept it.
Today we discussed the prospects for the development of our bilateral cooperation and our bilateral trade.
The status of India as the honoured country at the Thessaloniki International Fair in 2019 is practical proof of the importance that Greece attaches to India.
We placed particular emphasis on cooperation in the field of energy and renewable energy sources, green energy.
You know that the firm position of the Mitsotakis Government is to invest in green energy and for this reason it was a great pleasure for me to sign the framework agreement for the International Solar Alliance, an initiative by the Prime Minister of India, Mr. Modi, in which more than 120 countries participate, with France occupying a leading position.
We also discussed our cooperation in the framework of various other schemes, starting with the United Nations, where India is a non-permanent member of the Security Council for the 2021-2022 term. Greece is a candidate for non-permanent membership for the 2025-2026 term.
We also discussed the European Union-India relations extensively, as well as our relations with other friendly countries with which we have particularly close relations, such as the United Arab Emirates.
I briefed my Indian counterpart on developments in the Eastern Mediterranean, especially on the Cyprus issue, and thanked him for the special and constructive role that India has undertaken over time.
I stressed that Greece, being a shipping power, attaches particular importance to freedom of navigation and to full respect for the international Law of the Sea.
In this context, I welcomed and continue to do so the statement made by Quad – in which India participates along with the USA, Japan and Australia – a statement that explicitly refers to these principles.
In the context of the discussion on fighting the pandemic, I expressed our full solidarity with the Indian people and society.
I would also like to thank my Indian counterpart publicly for his appreciation for the assistance we have offered, commensurate with our capability to assist India, both separately and through the European Union.
It is also a great pleasure and honour for me to attend today the unveiling of the statue of Mahatma Gandhi, along with the Mayor of Athens, Mr. Bakoyannis, and the President of the Greece-India Parliamentary Friendship Group, former Prime Minister Mr. Georgios Papandreou.
Mahatma Gandhi was a champion for Indian independence but also a leading advocate of peace and resistance against violence, wherever it may come from. For this reason, he is universally revered.
Dear Dr. Jaishankar, once again I would like to thank you for this very important visit today. Hopefully, it will mark the beginning of a long-term commitment to building a strong partnership between our two countries.
Thank you for being here today, thank you for your visit.