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Boosting ties with India should be cornerstone of EU’s foreign policy: Greek PM

Feb 21, 2024 08:50 PM IST

Describing India as a “great power” on the world stage and a leading player in the fight against climate change, Mitsotakis said the world is “looking to India like never before in shaping the direction of the global debate and addressing great challenges”

New Delhi: Strengthening the partnership with India should be a cornerstone of the European Union’s (EU) foreign policy since the country is seen as a consensus builder and as a voice of reason in an increasingly polarised world, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis address at Raisina Dialogue (Twitter/@raisinadialogue)
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis address at Raisina Dialogue (Twitter/@raisinadialogue)

Mitsotakis, who was delivering the keynote address as the chief guest at this year’s edition of the Raisina Dialogue, challenged the Global South’s perception of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as a European war by saying that it represents a “brutal challenge” to the international rules-based order that India has supported.

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Addressing an audience that included Prime Prime Minister Narendra Modi, external affairs minister S Jaishankar and ministers and diplomats from across the world, Mitsotakis pitched for closer ties between his country and India. Greece, uniquely placed between the Mediterranean Sea and the Indo-Pacific, can serve as India’s “natural doorstep to Europe” through the India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor (IMEC), he said.

Also Read: ‘India an example’: Greek PM praises election system

Referring to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen’s remarks at the Raisina Dialogue two years ago about the priority given by the EU to strengthen the partnership with India, Mitsotakis said, “Strengthening our partnership with India...should be a cornerstone of Europe’s foreign policy, and this certainly true for my country.”

Greece, which has been a corridor for the exchange of goods and knowledge since ancient times, has excellent relations with Gulf countries and is uniquely placed between the Mediterranean Sea and the Indo-Pacific, can act as an interlocutor between India and Europe, he said. In this context, he pointed to Greece’s efforts to privatise more ports and Greek ship-owners controlling the world’s largest merchant marine fleet.

The IMEC, he said, holds great promise to “supercharge connectivity” between India, the Middle East and Europe, with Greece sitting at the centre of this new corridor and serving as India’s “natural doorstep to Europe and beyond”.

While the war in Gaza and the turmoil in the Middle East is destabilising, they have not undermined the logic behind the IMEC. The conflict has given more reasons to promote peace since the IMEC is a “peace project” that can lead to stability and prosperity for all participants, Mitsotakis said.

Describing India as a “great power” on the world stage and a leading player in the fight against climate change, Mitsotakis said the world is “looking to India like never before in shaping the direction of the global debate and addressing great challenges”.

India, he added, is seen as a consensus builder and as a voice of reason in an increasingly polarised world at a time when the world community cannot overlook the cost of conflicts such as the protracted war in Ukraine and new hostilities in the Middle East accompanied by a “horrifying death toll of civilians” and the risk of regional destabilisation.

Acknowledging that there may be some truth in the Global South’s perception of the Ukraine conflict as a European war, Mitsotakis said: “I would like to make the point here in New Delhi that Ukraine is much more than a local war on European soil, it is a brutal challenge to international stability and the international rules-based order that India has supported and has every interest in maintaining.”

He added, “I am convinced that in Ukraine, India has an important role to play, it has a voice that should be heard.”

Also Read: India, Greece agree to bolster ties as Modi meets Greek counterpart Mitsotakis

Mitsotakis also highlighted the threats faced by democracies around the world at a time when half of the global population is set to go to the polls in 64 countries and the EU in 2024. The scale of elections in India “challenge any flawed notion that significant scale is a barrier to democracy”, and the country is an example that demonstrates democracy can deliver stronger economic growth, which in turn leads to prosperity and strengthens social cohesion, he said.

Democracy is not an “inconvenient barrier to delivery against contemporary challenges” but represents the greatest hope for such delivery. However, democracy is vulnerable and facing profound threats, and countries must be alert to emerging challenges and adaptable enough to address them with real solutions, Mitsotakis said.

He characterised artificial intelligence (AI) as a powerful tool for “deceptive use by malicious actors who wish to disrupt democratic elections”, and stressed the need to regulate the emerging technology.

Jaishankar, in his vote of thanks, said India and Greece have a special responsibility to contribute to the evolution of the contemporary global order, and the talks between the two prime ministers on Wednesday had focused on enhancing links between the global economic centres of India and Europe.

“As India deepens its footprint abroad, Greece has emerged as a favourable destination. Our pharmaceutical industry, our agro-business and aviation are already established there...We expect that a mobility agreement will bring us even closer,” he said.

Raisina Dialogue is India’s flagship conference on geopolitics and geo-economics and the theme of the 2024 edition is “Chaturanga: Conflict, Contest, Cooperate, Create”. Over three days, participants from across the world will focus on six thematic pillars, including regulation of technologies, war and peace, decolonising multilateralism and defending democracy.

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