Thessaloniki International Fair – Inauguration of the Indian Pavilion

H.E. the Prime Minister of Greece Mr. Kyriakos Mitsotakis and H.E. the Hon’ble Minister of State for Commerce & Industry Housing & Urban Affairs and Civil Aviation of India, Mr. Hardeep Singh Puri, inaugurated the India Pavilion No.13 on Saturday, September 7th, 2019 at 11.30 AM, at Thessaloniki International Exhibition.

Speaking after the inauguration, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said: “We share respect for the values ​​of democracy, the desire for national integration in the 19th century, the dynamic diaspora, but also common sacrifices in World War I.” He also referred to Mahatma Gandhi, whose 150th birthday anniversary is celebrated this year, and to the usually attributed to him saying, “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”

The Prime Minister also spoke about India’s economic miracle and the recovery of the Greek economy, stressing the need to increase India’s direct investment in Greece and the Greek exports, so that bilateral economic relations could reach one billion euros in 2020 from € 750 million today. Mr. Mitsotakis concluded his speech with the words of Indian Nobel laureate Amartya Sen, “poverty is the deprivation of opportunity.”

India’s Minister of Commerce and Industry Hardeep Singh Puri said that Greece and India are two ancient cultures and that for India Greece has been the gateway to Europe since ancient times. The minister also stressed that the two countries share the same democratic principles as India is the largest democracy in the world, while Greece is the cradle of democracy. He also referred to the need for closer co-operation between the two countries in addressing global security and terrorism challenges.

Mr. Hardeep Singh Puri then referred to “New India”, which is a pioneer in technology, aerospace, computing, pharmaceutics, and farming. The Indian Minister thanked the Greek Prime Minister by offering him an elephant as a commemorative gift.

Later in the evening, Mr. Hardeep Singh Puri delivered a speech at the “Velideio” conference center in Thessaloniki which was broadcasted by the national TV channel ERT 3.

In this journey, Greece & India have a huge potential to collaborate & grow together. The largest democracy of the world & the cradle of democracy have old civilisational ties. Time has come to take our economic engagement to next level.

Hardeep Singh Puri

Earlier, on the eve of the Inauguration, the Indian Minister conducted a meeting to review the preparation for the India Pavilion at Thessaloniki Fair, covering an area of approximately 3,000 square meters, with more than 80 Indian business exhibitors presenting their products and services. In the evening, he hosted a reception at a central hotel in the city, which was attended by many businessmen, academicians, politicians, and other dignitaries from Greece and India.

On Sunday 8 September, Mr. Hardeep Singh Puri had a working breakfast with the Greek Minister of Development Mr. Adonis Georgiadis and the Deputy Foreign Minister for Economic Diplomacy and Extroversion Mr. Kostas Fragogiannis.

Mr. Georgiadis said that the Greek government is open to building partnerships between the two countries in various fields, such as agriculture, logistics, technology, etc. For his part, Mr. Hardeep Singh Puri stressed that the two countries are linked by a long friendship and cooperation, which can be further expanded. He also referred to the prospects for the growth of Indian business in the wider area of ​​southeast Europe. Mr. Fragogiannis focused on the fields of tourism, shipbuilding, and technology, where there is a strong interest in developing joint partnerships.

After breakfast, the Indian Minister visited the Indian cemetery in Kalamaria, Thessaloniki, where he paid tribute to the Indian soldiers who sacrificed their lives in World War I and are buried there.

In the afternoon, he visited the special exhibition set up in the Indian Pavilion dedicated to the 550th  birth anniversary (Prakash Utsav) of the founder of Sikh faith Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji, and the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.

Cover photo: Newspaper “Macedonia”