This could supply Europe with "much cheaper renewable energy", as Mohammed bin Salman said during an official visit to Athens

Saudi Arabia and Greece lay the groundwork for a possible electricity interconnection

photo_camera AP/YORGOS KARAHALIS - Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis shakes hands with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman during the welcoming ceremony in Athens

The Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman, has begun a European trip in Greece that will also take him to France to discuss "bilateral relations and ways to improve them in different sectors", as announced in an official communiqu茅 published by the Saudi news agency SPA.  

With three ministers and a business delegation, the de facto Saudi leader arrived in Athens, where he was received with honours by Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Deputy Prime Minister Panagiotis Pikrammenos. During the first day of the visit, the two countries signed agreements on military, investment, science and technology, according to Arab News. Memoranda of cooperation in the military and economic sectors were also initialled.  

El pr铆ncipe heredero saud铆 Mohammed bin Salman asiste a una reuni贸n con el primer ministro griego Kyriakos Mitsotakis  y los ministros de Grecia, en la Mansi贸n Maximos, en Atenas, Grecia, el 26 de julio de 2022 REUTERS/LOUIZA VRADI

The bilateral partnership includes a project for an undersea data cable linking Europe to Asia and the possibility of connecting electricity grids to supply Europe with cheaper green energy. "By connecting the electricity grid we can provide Greece and southwest Europe with much cheaper renewable energy," bin Salman was quoted as saying by Reuters. The Greek prime minister stressed during his meeting with bin Salman that his country was interested in hydrogen and an interconnection of the telecommunications network.

During the Saudi crown prince's second day in Greece, Riyadh and Athens are expected to agree on closer cooperation in shipping, energy and defence technology, according to a Greek foreign ministry statement. Ahead of the visit to the Saudi-Greek Investment Forum, Bin Salman and Mitsotakis signed an agreement to deepen partnership in the area of green hydrogen and clean energy.  

mohamed bin salman mitsotakis

For Athens, this visit is an opportunity to continue strengthening regional ties and "to further consolidate this important relationship between the two countries, with special emphasis on economic cooperation," Mitsotakis said. Greece and Saudi Arabia have a strong trade relationship.

In 2020, Greek exports to the Kingdom reached $339.04 million, while Saudi imports amounted to $620.57 million, according to the UN Comtrade database on international trade. In this regard, as Arab News' Lama Al-Hamawi notes, 'bilateral trade has played a prominent role in the flourishing of bilateral relations'

However, this harmony can be extrapolated to other areas beyond trade and economics. According to the Greek ambassador to Riyadh, Alexis Konstantopoulos, exchanges and cooperation in culture or innovation have much potential for both nations. "Regarding culture, hopefully, we can realise innovative projects together. We can explore the possibilities of carrying out archaeological excavations and the creation of museums together," the diplomat told Arab News.

After Greece, the Saudi crown prince will travel to France, where he will meet with French President Emmanuel Macron. The French leader recently hosted UAE President Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahayan, with whom he announced a strategic partnership between French energy giant Total Energies and the Emirati state oil company ADNOC "for cooperation in the area of energy supply".  

Fotografia de archivo del pr铆ncipe heredero saud铆 Mohammed bin Salman, saludando al presidente franc茅s Emmanuel Macron, a la derecha, a su llegada a Jiddah, Arabia Saud铆, el s谩bado 4 de diciembre de 2021 Bandar Aljaloud/Palacio Real saud铆 v铆a AP

In the midst of the standoff with Russia over the war in Ukraine, European countries are trying to find new energy alternatives to get rid of Russian supplies, and here the Gulf states have much to offer. Germany, for example, signed an energy cooperation agreement with Qatar in May. Poland and Spain are other countries that look to Doha as a reliable energy partner.

Bin Salman, for his part, met this month with US President Joe Biden. Earlier he undertook a regional tour of Egypt, Jordan and Turkey with the aim of strengthening ties in a number of areas. 

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