“We see the Mediterranean Sea as a linking bridge rather than a dividing border.”
Minister of Foreign Affairs Nikos Dendias paid the first visit of a Greek Foreign Minister to Nigeria, meeting with his counterpart Geoffrey Onyeama in the capital of Abuja on January 10th. Minister Dendias signed a MoU with Minister Onyeama, after discussions concentrating upon bilateral relations, the strengthening of Greek-Nigerian relations with a focus on investments, cooperation within the context of international organisations, regional and international developments based on respect for International Law, as well as challenges posed by the pandemic.
The Greek Head of Diplomacy, who was welcomed to the country by Opunimi Akinkugbe, Nigeria’s Ambassador to Greece, also met with Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo and other government officials. The meetings also featured discussions on “strengthening relations with emphasis on investments, trade, tourism, transport and the security situation in sub-Saharan Africa”.
The aforementioned talks are part of a broader plan to further develop Greek foreign policy on the African continent, focused, inter alia, on regional and international developments, a joint effort to tackle the pandemic, as well as on strengthening political and economic bilateral relations with emphasis on investment.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs highlighted Greece’s foreign policy priorities, which are based on adherence to International Law and good neighbourly relations. “We see the Mediterranean Sea as a linking bridge rather than a dividing border,” Minister Dendias said prior to meeting with Minister Onyeama, therefore Greece sees Nigeria as a neighbour, he added.
As Africa contains one the fastest-growing economies in the world and Nigeria is the largest one in the continent, Greece believes that as a Member of the European Union it can facilitate communication between Europe and Africa, the Greek Minister said.
Alongside the MoU signed by the two Foreign Ministers, Minister Dendias noted that there is a long list of agreements which both Foreign Ministries are working to complete. Upon inviting his counterpart to visit Athens soon, he also thanked him for referring to the strong presence of the Greek business community in the African country for over 100 years. As both Ministers noted, “Greek names are familiar in Nigeria, meaning that this Greek business community did not come to Nigeria to make a profit and then leave, but became Greek and Nigerian together, serving both countries, both nations and our common future.” Minister Dendias expressed the hope that on his next visit he will be able to travel to Lagos and meet with the Greek business community, “for which we are very proud and this could become our linking bridge.”
He added that the two countries were linked also through “the best basketball player in the United States and the world currently, Giannis Antetokounmpo, familiar to the Greeks as Giannis.”
In addition, the Greek Foreign Minister said that Greece is donating 907,000 doses of Covid vaccines to Nigeria through the World Health Organisation’s Covax mechanism for access to vaccines. The gift was announced during Minister Dendias’ meeting with the Federal Minister for Health, Adeleke Olorunnimbe Mamora, and is part of Greece’s assistance to third countries to fight the coronavirus pandemic.
Minister Dendias said that the vaccines should not be seen as a gesture or donation, but rather, serving a moral obligation, noting that “Unless the whole world is safe, nobody is safe.”