India-Greece Relations
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Basic facts about the country

Name and capital of the country: Hellenic Republic, Athens
Provinces/Administrative Divisions: 13 regions and 1 autonomous region
Agion Oros (Mt. Athos).
Population: 10.8 million (as per 2011 census - ELSTAT)

Currency: Euro
Language spoken: Greek
Time: 3½ hours behind IST in winter; 2½ hours in summer

Head of State: Mr. Prokopis Pavlopoulos
Head of Government: Mr. Alexis Tsipras
Foreign Minister: Mr. Nikos Kotzias

Political Relations
India and Greece established diplomatic relations in May 1950. India opened its resident Embassy in Athens in March 1978. Interaction between India and Greece goes back to antiquity. In modern times, the two countries have developed 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. India and Greece also share common approaches to many international issues, such as UN reforms and Cyprus. Greece has consistently supported India’s core foreign policy objectives. Greece participated with India in the Six-National Delhi Declaration on Nuclear Disarmament in 1985.

The relationship has progressed smoothly over the last 65 years. Bilateral VVIP visits have taken place regularly. President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam visited Greece in April 2007. Greek Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis visited India in January 2008.

The two countries held Foreign Office Consultations in New Delhi on 26 October 2016 and discussion focused on various issues of bilateral, regional and international importance.

Commercial Relations
India and Greece are keen to increase their commercial and investment contacts. Greece looks for Indian investments in their program of privatization of public assets. Indian infrastructure company, GMR Group in a joint venture with GEK TERNA of Greece have won the tender for upgradation and management of Kasteli airport at Crete Island at a total cost of Euro 850 million.

The 7th Session of India-Greece Joint Economic Committee was held in New Delhi on 23 November 2016 where discussions were held on a number of MoUs/Agreements with a view to enhancing bilateral commercial engagement between the two countries. Areas discussed included Agriculture, Tourism, Shipping, Infrastructure, IT, etc.

Three Indian companies are having partnerships in Greece and 10 Greek companies are operating in India. But the investments in each other’s country are not significant. Greek companies have shown interst in doing business in India including export of olive oil and olive, wine, cheese, fruits and fruit juice, consumer goods, construction and aluminium products to India as well as small investments. Many Indian enterpreneurs assisted by ITPO and Ministry of Micro, Small and Mefuim Industries have regularly participated in the Thessaloniki International Fair held every year in northern Greece.

Bilateral trade

(All figures are in US$ million)

Year

India’s Exports

India’s Imports

Total Trade

2009-10

452.80

154.13

606.93

2010-11

364.88

93.39

428.27

2011-12

790.06

110.95

901.01

2012-13

300.13

111.87

424.64

2013-14

335.14

109.44

444.58

2014-15

360.84

127.75

488.59

2015-16

335.70

109.53

445.23

2016-17

381.77

125.95

507.72


(Source: Export Import Data Bank, Department of Commerce, Government of India)

Bilateral trade will go up in 2017-18 due to projects, joint ventures and increasing trade. The main items of Greece’s exports to India are cotton, scrap (mostly aluminium, ferrous, copper and lead), marble and granite, aluminium foils, calcium carbonate, kiwi fruits and greasywool. India’s exports to Greece comprise petroleum products (jet fuel), automobile componenets and automobiles(cars & SUVs), flat rolled steel items, sesame seeds, frozen prawns/shrimps and squid, cashew nuts, coffee, nucleic acids and soyabean oilcake.

An MoU in Air Services has been signed between India and Greece to establish direct air links between the two countries. Jet Airways has been designated as the Indian airline to fly to Greece. An Air Service Agreement will also be signed soon. 1st JWG on Shipping was held in March 2017.

Cultural Relations
The last Cultural Exchange Program (CEP) signed between India and Greece has lapsed and a new draft CEP is under finalization by both sides.

There are unofficial Greek centers in Kolkata and Varanasi. Several organizations like Indo-Hellenic Society for Culture and Development (ELINEPA), Shantom Indian Dance Center, Art of Living Hellas, Brahma Kumari Center and many Yoga centers under the patronage of Hellenic Yoga Society are active in propagation and promotion of Indian culture in Greece.

Cultural groups sponsored by ICCR regularly participate in Greek dance and music festivals and cultural events. Kathak Dance group led by Ms. Swati Wangnoo Tiwari participated in the 3rd Bollywood and Multicultural Dance Festival held in Athens on 3-5 July 2015 which was well received by the Greek audience. The festival is held every year including 2017.

ICCR also offers one scholarship every year to the Greek students to study in India. A few students are studying in India under self-financing scheme also.

Indian Community
There are about 10,000 Indian nationals living in Greece. Most of them are farm, factory or construction workers or small entrepreneurs. A few Indian professionals work in multinational organizations in banking, insurance and software sectors. Indians are a law-abiding community and enjoy cordial relations and goodwill of the native Greek community.

Air links
There is no direct air link between India and Greece. Athens can be reached via Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Istanbul, Doha, Bahrain, Amman and several cities in Europe. An Air Services Agreement is under negotiation.

Useful resources

  1. Embassy of India, Athens website : http://www.indianembassy.gr

  2. Embassy of India, Athens facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Embassy-of-India-Athens

  3. Twitter account: https://twitter.com/Indian_Embassy Embassy of India, Athens



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