Address of H.E. Mr Nikos Dendias, Foreign Minister of the Hellenic Republic at the opening of the International Conference “The Greek World and India: History, Culture and Trade from the Hellenistic period to Modern Times (4th c. BCE – 18th c. CE) at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi
“Ladies and Gentlemen,
The International Conference on the Greek World and India, taking place today, is quite a unique event. The millennial history of Indo-Hellenic contacts provides a solid basis for strengthening our bilateral relations in the cultural field, since Greece and India are two of the greatest civilizations in history.
Our countries enjoy a long history of contacts starting from the time of Alexander the Great. Greek-Indian contacts comprise the fields of art, letters and science. Commercial bonds mainly through maritime routes led to the formation of vibrant Greek Communities in Bengal and especially in Kolkata, where the famous Greek Indologist Dimitrios Galanos lived. We are pleased that the Experts in this Conference will explore these aspects of our history.
From the Hellenistic period to Modern Times, we need to build the relationship of the future. A relationship that aspires to become strategic, as Greece and India see many things in a very similar way.
A major highlight of this Conference is the digital exhibition of a unique byzantine manuscript with a large number of miniatures which depict the life of Alexander the Great. The manuscript is a rare “gem” from the collection of the Hellenic Institute of Byzantine and Post Byzantine Studies. Its “digital journey” to India bears testimony to the efforts undertaken by our countries to honor and further explore their cultural bonds and shared heritage.
We feel very honored that there is a Chair of Greek Studies at the JNU. The latter has been reinforced with a Visiting Professor from Greece since the start of this Academic Semester.
As the prominent Indian Poet Rabindranath Tagore had stressed during his visit to Athens in 1926, “We, the younger generations of both Greeks and Indians must always strive to live up to the level of our glorious past. But is not enough to reflect only on our past. We must walk in modern reality. We must contribute to the promotion of the culture of our countries and make this culture a lasting value”.
Hoping that this Conference may lay a small stone on exactly that path, I am wishing you every success.”