“The last decade was very painful for our country. But I think we have every reason to be optimistic for the next decade,” Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said late on Thursday at the event organized by The Hellenic Initiative in New York.
“And as this year, we celebrate 200 years since the beginning of our war of independence, it is always an opportunity to reflect upon our rather complicated but intriguing history and assess how much progress we have made overall, celebrate the fact that we were always on the right side of history when important decisions had to be made, acknowledge the fact that our history is full of cycles of triumphs and catastrophes but somehow we always found the power to emerge stronger from difficulties. And we did so because we managed to unite in difficult times to address profound crises. We did so because we always managed to have the right allies whenever foreign assistance was necessary. And we did so because we found this internal drive to overcome difficulties that allow us today to be genuinely optimistic about the future of the country,” he underlined.
Mitsotakis said: “I’ve been in power for 26 months now. When we did the calculus, 19 of the 26 months were periods of intense crisis management. Like all governments in the world, we had to struggle with COVID. We did a better job than many people expected us to do. We trusted the science, we trusted our scientists, we took decisions quickly. We communicated our message very, very clearly.”
As he explained Greece did better than many other European countries with much more advanced health care systems. “At the same time, we had to face challenges on the migration front, challenges with Turkey. We had a very difficult year last year, but at the same time, we always focused on making sure that we deliver upon our main electoral promise. And that was a promise to put the Greek economy back to a growth track, a sustainable growth track, and to make sure that this growth is a growth that works for everyone that will leave no one behind that it is an inclusive growth, that it is a growth that does not repeat the mistakes of the past when we overborrowed and overspent.
It should be a growth focused on sustainable investment, on innovation, on focusing to promote businesses that export and don’t just look at the Greek market. And so far, I think the results are very, very supportive of what we have achieved. We are happy to revise our growth forecasts for 2021 from 3,6% το 5,9%. I do expect this growth to be even higher, but we prefer to be conservative. We are borrowing at record low interest rates.”
He added that there’s a lot of buzz in Greece, but also outside Greece about investing in Greece. “I have never seen as much interest in long term investing in the country. Whatever asset is put up for sale, be it private or public receives valuations that far exceed our most optimistic forecast. I think this is a vote of confidence in the government, but mostly a vote of confidence in the Greek economy and the Greek people. Now, the reason why people invest in Greece is not just related to the government. We provide the framework, we view ourselves as catalysts that allow the creative energy of Greeks to express itself in the same way that it has done in the US, in Australia, and this explosion of creativity we see in Greece today is particularly encouraging.”
“And people come to Greece not just for the stable political environment, for the low taxes, for the natural beauty, when they invest in tourism, for the ample sun and wind, when they invest in renewable energy,” he stressed and added: “I think they come to Greece primarily for the people. And we have extraordinary people in Greece, a young generation that is extremely well educated, and a diaspora that for the first time is interested in returning to Greece. When you started your work Andrew we were speaking about the challenge of the brain drain, about how talented young Greeks left Greece because frankly, there were no good jobs in Greece.”
According to the prime minister what we see today is the reversal of this trend. “We see young people who left Greece over the past decade eager to return to Greece, to make a living in Greece, to build a family in Greece, and to connect their professional future with the future of the country. And this is so encouraging to me personally, and it gives us, frankly, the energy and the courage to continue down that path.
I think Greece is much stronger today than it has been over the past decade. It is certainly stronger economically. It’s a country that is punching, I think, above its weight in Europe. Our voice is heard in Europe. Over the past decade, we were always asking Europeans for support for bailout packages. We were always obliged to conform with their reform guidelines.
For the first time, we have our own plan for the future of the country. It’s called Greece 2.0. We submitted it to the European Commission. It was approved with flying colors. It was a plan that was put together by Greeks, for Greeks and I’m very happy that we are already receiving the first European funds in order to implement it.
So Greece is stronger economically, but it’s also stronger geopolitically. We’ve built a network of powerful alliances in a relatively unstable part of the world. We’re very proud that the Greek American relationship is at an all time high. I think the US recognizes in Greece a strategic ally with which it shares, not just common interests but common values. We should not forget that the Greek Revolution was inspired by the American Revolution, and at the end of the day, we are two vibrant democracies that fight for the same principles of freedom, dignity, and the pursuit of happiness.
We’re stronger militarily than we were two years ago, five years ago, ten years ago. But we’re also stronger in terms of the brand of Greece. In terms of what is so important, the soft power of Greece, the buzz that Greece is creating abroad. So what I want to tell you is I want you to be part of the Greek success story.
I’m happy because the Greek diaspora feels proud about the country. And, of course, the synergies are so obvious. And I think for the first time, we see this amount of interest in participating in the Greek success story by the diaspora. And I think this is a long term trend. I really want you to be part of the Greek success story.”
Moreover, Mitsotakis underlined: “My vision is to build a more equal society with less income inequality and to make sure that we always focus our public policy on those that are most in need. This is exactly what you have done at THI (The Hellenic Initiative), and I’m very very happy to be able to participate in this evening. Come to Greece, invest in Greece and be part of the next Greek success story.”