Greek-Saudi ties helping both nations fulfill their ambitions

Greek-Saudi ties helping both nations fulfill their ambitions

During the last four years, the partnership between Greece and Saudi Arabia has become strategic (Shutterstock)
During the last four years, the partnership between Greece and Saudi Arabia has become strategic (Shutterstock)
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The 203rd anniversary of the Greek Revolution and our country’s independence will be marked this year and, here in Riyadh, we celebrate together not only our own but also our common history.

Both our countries were home to ancient civilizations and shared important land and sea trade routes and relations, being at the crossroads of different continents. Both our national states are relatively young, although they are the guardians of ancient and respected histories and traditions. More recently, since the 1960s, Greek companies have participated in the building up of Saudi Arabia through its civil, marine and oil and gas infrastructure, shipping and many other fields.

For Greece, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is a key partner in the region and beyond. We share the same values, upholding international law, the law of the sea and international humanitarian law, as well as the principle of good neighborly relations in our regions. Greece, both nationally and as an EU member, values dearly not only our close cooperation with the Kingdom but also with the Gulf Cooperation Council, an important and multifaceted regional organization of increasing global importance.

We support Saudi Arabia’s efforts to achieve peace in Yemen and progress in the Middle East peace process. We both support a stable and peaceful Middle East, which requires a mutually agreed two-state solution with an independent and viable Palestinian state, in line with the relevant UN resolutions. We both deplore the terrible situation in Gaza. The EU and its member states have committed more than $750 million in assistance to the Palestinian people and we need to do more to establish a permanent ceasefire and avoid further regional escalation. Greece and Saudi Arabia’s foreign policy aims at de-escalation and confidence-building in order to promote peace and security in both our regions.

During the last four years, the partnership between Greece and Saudi Arabia has become strategic, covering several different sectors, including political, military, economic and cultural cooperation. Our ministers of foreign affairs and defense, as well as the chief of staff of our armed forces, recently visited Riyadh and held fruitful meetings with their counterparts. Our cooperation also goes beyond these fields; it is wide and multilayered.

During the last four years, the partnership between Greece and Saudi Arabia has become strategic

Alexis Konstantopoulos

Our bilateral cooperation with Saudi Arabia is developing steadily in the fields of interconnectivity and energy. The Greek Public Power Corporation and the Saudi Telecommunications Company are together building the East-Med Corridor, a data cable that will connect Europe with Asia via Greece and Saudi Arabia.

Our energy ministries also have close cooperation in the fields of renewable energy and green hydrogen. Greece’s strategic position as a gateway to Europe makes it an ideal hub for the export of Saudi hydrogen to the EU. The Greek Independent Power Transmission Operator and the Saudi National Grid established a joint company last September and are planning an electricity interconnection project between our two countries.

The India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor, announced at last year’s G20 meeting in New Delhi and in which Saudi Arabia is the only Arab country, provides further potential for the prospects of our bilateral economic and energy cooperation, since both Greece and Saudi Arabia connect different continents and also enjoy excellent bilateral cooperation with India.

The implementation of Saudi Arabia’s spectacular Vision 2030 transformation process has attracted many foreign companies, including several Greek ones, such as Archirodon, SETE Saudia, Salfo and CCC, who have proved to be solid and valuable partners and provided expert know-how and important added value. Several Saudi companies have also invested in Greece, including in several traditional fields such as real estate and entertainment, but also in other tech and innovative sectors.

Foreign direct investment inflows to Greece are fast increasing, with investors wanting to seize the opportunity to benefit from our economy’s steady growth. In times of increasing geopolitical challenges, Greece offers a safe haven of stability, growth and promising opportunities to investors from Saudi Arabia and throughout the world.

Greece offers a safe haven of stability, growth and promising opportunities to investors from Saudi Arabia

Alexis Konstantopoulos

People-to-people relations, as well as culture and tourism, are an important bilateral link. We are happy and honored to welcome an increasing number of visitors from Saudi Arabia, supported by extra direct flights, who not only enjoy but also appreciate our country’s natural beauty and understand our hospitality, as well as our culture and traditions. Greece is a unique destination in many aspects, as Saudi citizens have discovered, not only in our main cities and islands, but also beyond thanks to our lesser-known landmarks.

Greece was among the EU countries that strongly advocated for the extension of Schengen visas’ validity to five years for Saudi citizens. Thanks to all our common efforts, and the European Commission implementing the decision, EU embassies can now provide five-year Schengen visas to Saudi citizens. In the future, we need to work on a visa waiver for Saudi citizens, avoiding the visa process altogether.

The first meeting of the high-level Greek-Saudi strategic council, which will take place soon, will provide the required comprehensive framework for our bilateral relations and allow us to fully mutually profit from the important common opportunities that our cooperation and economies can provide. A lot has been done already and a lot more can be done to fulfill our mutually high ambitions.

Both our countries, which are acquiring increased importance in our respective regions, have more ambitious roles to develop. Our cooperation can only support this national and regional transformation process for the benefit of peace, stability and prosperity. Both our regions need to be less polarized and more stable.

In the years to come, we look forward to continuing to work together closely to build on our current cooperation and develop new partnerships and joint investments in additional fields, such as sport, culture, food security and shipping.

Finally, I would like to thank the Saudi authorities for the warm hospitality they extend to our mission and the many Greek nationals working and living in Saudi Arabia, who are actively contributing to the country’s growth and development. They make us proud, as we are also proud to serve Greece in a country as special as Saudi Arabia.

  • Alexis Konstantopoulos is Ambassador of Greece to Saudi Arabia, Oman and Yemen. X: @AlexisKonstant3
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