NEW DELHI: India and Greece needs to develop on its civilizational linkages and develop a partnership for the current times that could, among other issues, balance Turkey-Pakistan alliance in the wider Eurasian region.

The theme was debated at a webinar (Friday) titled “Indo-Greek Cooperation: Countering the Turkey-Pakistan Nexus” was moderated by JNU Asst. Professor Gaurav Tyagi and comprised eminent scholars from India and Greece.

Editor-in-Chief of Greek news platform Pentaspostagma, Andreas Mountzouroulias felt it was the perfect time for India and Greece to increase bilateral cooperation with each other. He added that both the countries have terror havens in their neighbourhood - Turkey and Pakistan and argued that as both the countries are already holding joint military exercises, India and Greece should form a military alliance and begin to hold military exercises together.

He further suggested that Greece could also procure weapons systems from India and expressed his optimism on the possibility of India and Greece jointly developing weapon systems. “This would be the most effective way for India and Greece to counter the growing alliance between Turkey and Pakistan”, he argued.

Asst. Prof at JNU, Dr. Vandana Mishra drew attention to the recent incidents including the brutal beheading of a French teacher by one of his students, as a consequence of a debate about free speech and later Erdogan using this opportunity to portray himself as the protector of the Islamic faith.

Dr. Mishra highlighted that Erdogan is trying to use his growing alliance with Pakistan to project himself as the protector of Islam and at the same time is trying to undermine traditional leaders of Islamic world like Saudi Arabia.

She further pointed out that even though Erdogan is trying to portray himself as protector of the Islamic faith, he has not raised the issue of the repression and mistreatment of Uyghurs with China.

Regarding bilateral cooperation between India and Greece, she argued that military and economic cooperation between the two countries has been ongoing, but more attention is required in respect of strengthening the cultural ties between India and Greece. Dr. Mishra stated that strengthening cultural ties between India and Greece, two countries that share values and have both evolved from ancient civilizations, would go a long way in strengthening strategic ties.

Greek leader and Member of European Parliament (MEP) Emmanouil Fragkos stated that Greece and India are entities that existed much before their neighbours (Turkey and Pakistan). Fragkos stated that in Pakistan, the Hindu and Christian populations are discriminated against while Turkey unjustifiably targets the small percentage of Christians and Jews living there.

He alleged that paramilitary organisations have targeted religious minorities in Turkey for centuries. Both Turkey and Pakistan, as per Fragkos, export instability. Pakistan continuously tries to interfere with India and its support of the Taliban has led to the destruction and ruination of Afghanistan. On similar lines, Turkey also interferes with the functioning of other countries like Cyprus, Syria, and Armenia. The EU MEP also expressed his concerns on Pakistan rapidly sharing its nuclear secrets with Turkey.

Director of Athens based think tank Research Institute for European and American Studies (RIEAS) John M. Nomikos highlighted that Erdogan is an authoritarian leader who has been threatening Greece and the rest of the EU with a million illegal migrants, primarily from Syria. The Turkish-Pakistani axis has emerged as a distinct terror threat to both India and Greece. This has resulted in a Greece-India political and economic cooperation a natural outcome.

He alleged that the most worrying aspect was the cooperation and collaboration between the Turkish intelligence organization (MIT) and ISI.

The possibility of a strategic partnership between India and Greece is not new and goes back to 2011 when Greece and India agreed to cooperate on combating terrorism and countering pirates in the Indian Ocean. Nomikos hoped that Prime Minister Modi can visit Greece in 2021 or the Greek President can visit New Delhi. “The Indian Navy and forces must begin to have a presence in the East Mediterranean and India and Greece must actively work towards strengthening ties with each other.”

Athens Bureau Chief for the Greek City Times, Paul Antonopoulos highlighted the deep historical ties between Greece and India and noted that both Greece and India are bordering revisionist countries and they must prioritise bilateral relations from a security point of view. The webinar was organised by Delhi-based foundation Red Lantern Analytica.