An Indian Parliamentary delegation, headed by Speaker of the Lok Sabha (House of the People) Somnath Chatterjee, visited Greece from 24 to 28 September 2006. This first ever bilateral visit was made possible after an invitation by the Greek Parliament and aimed to strengthen relations between the Parliaments of India and Greece and increase the mutual understanding on issues of common interest.
The Indian delegation included six members of Parliament – four from the Lok Sabha (House of People), and two from the Rajya Sabha (Council of States), representing different parties — and senior officials of the Indian Parliament. During the first ever bilateral visit from Indian Parliament to Greece, the Indian delegation met the Presiding Officer of the Greece Parliament Prof. Anna Benaki-Psarouda, the President of the Hellenic Republic (Greece) Mr. Karolos Papoulias and the Prime Minister of Greece Mr. Kostas Karamanlis, who is also the head of the ruling New Democracy Party. The Indian Parliamentary Delegation also interacted with the Leaders of all other Parties represented in the Hellenic Parliament i.e., the Pan-Hellenic Social Movement (PASOK) which is the principal opposition party, the Communist Party of Greece (KKE), and the Coalition of the Left (SYNAPSISMOS). The delegation had a meeting with the 15 member Greece – India Friendship Group of the Hellenic Parliament, as well.
During these interactions, the positive desire on both sides to further increase bilateral contacts and relations in diverse fields and to strengthen cooperation in global forums such as the UN has been highlighted. There was strong support from Greece for India’s candidature for the permanent membership in UN Security Council. India’s consistent position on Cyprus and its efforts to build and strengthen good relations with the countries in its region came in for praise. The Leaders from the host nation have also strongly supported India’s efforts in fighting terrorism while remaining strongly committed to democratic principles and human rights. Prime Minister Mr.Karamanlis and President Mr. Papoulias have said that they are looking forward to further high-level visits from India in the near future. The Premier said that the time had come for taking Indo-Greek relations to new levels, building on the already very good, long-standing and traditional relations and many shared values and perceptions.
Shri Somnath Chatterjee sought the support of Greece for India’s candidate for the UN Secretary General’s post, Dr. Shashi Tharoor. Shri Chatterjee was honoured with the medal of honour of the Greek Parliament by his Greek counterpart.
The Honorary Delegation met also with the President and members of ELINEPA in the official dinner hosted by the Indian Ambassador Mr. Bhaskar Balakrishnan (photo). The Indian Parliamentary Delegation led by Shri Somnath Chatterjee included Shri Raashid Alvi, Shri Kailash Joshi, Shri Shailendra Kumar, Dr. K. Kasturirangan, Shri M. Cheranamai, Smt. Tejaswini Seeramesh, all Members of Parliament and Shri P.D.T. Achary, Secretary-General, Lok Sabha.