India and Greece have held brainstorming session on threat to territorial integrity of nations and threat posed by radicalization, violent extremism, as well as terrorism in backdrop of Turkey’s territorial claims in the Mediterranean region and alleged support to radical groups and Pakistan on the Kashmir issue.
These issues of principle of territorial integrity and rise of extremism were part of the agenda when External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar met Greek leadership in Athens during his June 25-27 visit. Both sides discussed the recent developments pertaining to the Eastern Mediterranean, Cyprus and Libya, according to a joint press statement.
During Jaishankar’s meetings both sides agreed that the rule of law and respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity are fundamental principles of international relations that must be observed by all. Both countries recognised the threat posed by radicalization, violent extremism, as well as terrorism, including cross border terrorism. They emphasized that there can be no justification for these in any form or manifestation, according to the joint press statement.
While Turkey was not named but the message was clear given Turkey’s deepening ties with Pakistan and support for radicalism including in South Asia.
India and Greece share common approaches to many international issues, such as UN reforms and Cyprus. Greece has consistently supported India’s core foreign policy objectives, officials recalled. Cyprus, a close ally of Greece, has been backing India on the Kashmir issue for decades.
Greece and neighbouring Turkey share lukewarm ties and one of bone of contention since 1974 has been Turkish occupation of part of Cyprus. The “two historic rivals” are at odds over many issues from competing territorial claims to migrant boats and the status of Cyprus. They came close to armed conflict last year over natural gas resources in the Mediterranean. In recent months efforts were made by both though to lower tensions.
Interestingly, during Jaishankar’s visit to Athens both sides also shared views on the Indo-Pacific region. Both sides noted with satisfaction the convergence of each-others’ vision for a free, open, inclusive and cooperative Indo-Pacific ensuring connectivity and growth for all in the region, according to the joint statement.
This statement is significant amid India-EU joint connectivity initiative including in the Indo-Pacific region to balance China and Greece’s close ties with Beijing. Greece is part of BRI. Greece deepened its economic ties with Beijing in the wake of the financial crisis. Investments from China represented an important source of income for Athens. In Greece’s Piraeus Port China’s shipping firm Cosco took a majority stake in 2016. The port is at a strategic location between the Asian and European continents. China has made a number of different major investments in Greece, including in energy and real estate. India on its part wants to build ties with Greece in the shipbuilding sector.