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India-Greece Relations, Historical Background, Future Prospects

Context: Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis will visit New Delhi.

About India-Greece Relations

India and Greece maintained friendly and cooperative relations. Read this article to learn about India-Greece Relations in detail.

  • Strategic and Military Engagements: Both countries have engaged in joint military exercises, involving the Indian Navy and Air Force alongside Greek armed forces, highlighting their commitment to enhancing defence cooperation.
  • Economic Partnership: A high-level Greek business delegation is keen on exploring India not just as a gateway to Asia but also as a manufacturing base for global operations.
    • Collaborations span various sectors, including construction, where Indian companies are involved in significant projects like airport construction in Crete, and food industry investments by Indian business families in Greece.
    • The maritime sector sees Indian shipping companies expanding their footprint in Athens, indicating the potential for India to be a key player in trans-Atlantic shipping markets.
    • Strategic partnerships between Greek and Indian financial institutions for selling mutual fund products globally reflect the deepening economic ties.

Future Prospects of India-Greece Relations

  • India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor (IMEEC): The concept of IMEEC, aimed at enhancing connectivity and economic integration, is gaining traction.
    • It represents a significant opportunity for both Greek and Indian businesses to explore new partnerships and markets.
  • EU-India Bilateral Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA): Greece’s support for the rapid conclusion of the EU-India BTIA could catalyze further boosting bilateral economic ties, benefiting both nations.
  • People-to-People Connections: Strengthening cultural and educational exchanges, including university student exchange programs and media cooperation, is crucial for preserving the ancient linkages between the two civilizations and fostering mutual understanding in the modern era.
  • Think Tanks and Scholarly Collaboration: There’s a need for increased collaboration between think tanks and academic institutions in both countries to build joint scholarship and research, particularly in areas of mutual strategic interest.
  • Travel and Tourism: Enhancing travel links can facilitate greater people-to-people contact, tourism, and cultural exchange, further solidifying the bilateral relationship.

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Areas of Collaboration within the Strategic Partnership

  • Defence and Security: India and Greece have committed to enhancing their defence and security cooperation, particularly in areas like maritime security, counterterrorism, cyber security, and the defence industry. They have also established a framework for a dialogue between their National Security Advisors.
  • Maritime Security and International Law: Both countries, with strong maritime traditions, share a vision of a free, open, and rule-based Mediterranean Sea and Indo-Pacific. They emphasize adherence to international law, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), while respecting sovereignty, territorial integrity, and freedom of navigation.
  • Culture and Tourism: Efforts will be made to promote cultural exchanges and preserve ancient sites. Collaboration within UNESCO will be strengthened to achieve these goals.
  • Trade and Investment: India and Greece aim to double their bilateral trade by 2030. They plan to explore opportunities in various sectors such as renewable energy, infrastructure, pharmaceuticals, agriculture, and innovation.
  • Mobility and Migration Partnership Agreement (MMPA): Both nations are working towards finalizing an MMPA, which will facilitate the free movement of the workforce between the two countries.
  • Broad Spectrum of Collaboration: Discussions encompass a wide range of domains, including digital payments, shipping, pharmaceuticals, and education.
  • Culture and Tourism: Both leaders welcomed efforts to promote exchanges in all forms of art. They also agreed to encourage joint efforts in preserving and protecting ancient sites and strengthen cooperation within the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

India-Greece Ties

Historical Background

The historical relations between India and Greece date back over 2,500 years and have been marked by various significant interactions and exchanges:

  • Alexander the Great’s Campaign: In the 4th century BCE, Alexander the Great led a campaign extending into the northwestern Indian subcontinent. While his conquests did not result in long-lasting Greek rule in India, they established early connections between the two regions.
  • Ashoka’s Edicts: The Mauryan Emperor Ashoka, in his proclamations, mentioned diplomatic, trade, and cultural relations between India and Greece. This provides historical evidence of interactions between the two civilizations during ancient times.
  • Trading and Coinage: Archaeological evidence, including coins and writings, indicates that there was trade between the Mauryan Kings of India and Greece. This trade relationship left tangible traces in the form of coinage that reflected both Indian and Greek influences.
  • Megasthenes and Chanakya: Megasthenes, an ancient Greek historian and diplomat, served as an ambassador to the Mauryan King Chandragupta’s court. His writings, such as the “Indika,” provide valuable insights into Indian society and governance during that period. Chanakya, a prominent advisor to Chandragupta, also recorded Megasthenes’ presence in his writings, notably in the “Arthashastra.”
  • Gandhara Art: Gandhara art, which flourished in the region of present-day Pakistan and Afghanistan, is believed to be a result of the fusion of Indian and Greek artistic influences. This art style is characterized by the incorporation of Greek artistic elements into traditional Indian artistic forms.


  • Greece has the longest coastline in Europe and is the southernmost country in Europe.
  • The capital is Athens.
  • Greece is bordered to the east by the Aegean Sea, to the south by the Mediterranean Sea, and to the west by the Ionian Sea.
  • It lies at the juncture of Europe, Asia, and Africa and is heir to the heritages of Classical Greece, the Byzantine Empire, and nearly four centuries of Ottoman Turkish rule.
  • The Pindus mountain range on the mainland contains one of the world’s deepest gorges, Vikos Gorge.
  • Mount Olympus is Greece’s highest mountain at 9,570 feet (2,917 meters) above sea level.
  • The largest Greek island by both area and population is Crete, located at the southern edge of the Aegean Sea.

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Commercial Relations

  • Bilateral trade between India and Greece stood at USD 2 billion in 2022-23.
  • India mainly exports aluminum, organic chemicals, fish and crustaceans and iron and steel to Greece, among other things.
  • Meanwhile, Greece’s top exports to India are minerals fuels, mineral oils and products, sulphur and aluminium foil.
  • India Participated as ‘Honoured Country’ in the 84th Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF), 2019, the largest annual commercial exposition of Greece.

Political Relations

  • Diplomatic relations were established between India and Greece in May 1950. Greece opened its embassy in Delhi in 1950 and India opened its embassy in Athens in 1978.
  • Greece has been marked by consistent support to each other on issues of core national interest, such as Kashmir and Cyprus.
  • Greece also favours United Nations Security Council (UNSC) expansion, with India as a permanent member.

Defence Relations

  • India and Greece’s Defence Cooperation accelerated in 1998, which envisages cooperation in areas such as military training, joint exercises, defence industry collaboration, etc.
  • Indian Air Force participation in EXERCISE INIOCHOS-23.


  • Dimitrios Galanos, a Greek, became the first European Indologist and spent 47 years in India translating many Hindu texts into Greek and compiled a Sanskrit-English-Greek dictionary of over 9000 words.
  • A “Dimitrios Galanos” Chair for Hellenic Studies was established at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, India in September 2000.
  • The Indian Council for Cultural Relations has been offering an annual scholarship for Greek students to study in India.
  • Prof. Nicholas Kazanas, a distinguished Greek Indologist, was declared as one of the awardees of the prestigious Padma Shri award on the 72nd Republic Day of India in 2021.

Grand Cross of the Order of Honour

  • The Grand Cross of the Order of Honour is the second-highest civilian honour in Greece, after the Grand Cross of the Order of the Redeemer.
  • The award was established in 1975 and features the head of goddess Athena on its front side, along with the inscription “ONLY THE RIGHTEOUS SHOULD BE HONORED”.
  • The award is given to individuals who have distinguished themselves in the fields of politics, diplomacy, culture, science, or social service, and who have promoted the interests and values of Greece.
  • The Greek President conferred the Indian Prime Minister(PM) with “The Grand Cross of the Order of Honour” in 2023 and the Indian PM paid tribute at the ‘Tomb of Unknown Soldier’ in Athens.

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