Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis held series of meetings at the 50th World Economic Forum in Davos.
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis had more than 17 bilateral meetings with politicians and senior business players at the 50th World Economic Forum in Davos this week, as well as participating in two events on the official programme and giving interviews to Bloomberg and Politico, in a bid to signal to the international business community that the climate in Greece, after 10 years of crisis, has changed.
Accompanied by his chief economic advisor Alexis Patelis, the prime minister met Microsoft President Brad Smith, Google’s head of Europe, the Middle East and Africa Matt Brittin, ENEL CEO Francesco Starace, Bloomberg Chairman Peter T. Grauer, Visa Europe CEO Charlotte Hogg, WEF founder and executive president Davis Klaus Schwab, Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) governor Tadashi Maeda and Heineken’s Chief Financial Officer Laurence Debroux.
Sources at the premier’s office said the meetings showed that major foreign investors see Greece in a different light after the July 7 elections and are encouraged by a new government that is lowering taxes, reducing bureaucracy and making real changes, in addition to the political stability that is anything but given in other European countries.
In the same context, they said, there was greater interest in cooperation in areas such as a digital upgrade of the country, cultural heritage, increasing electronic transactions, developing renewable energy sources, tackling the climate crisis, waste management, the real estate market and other investments that make Greece a central pillar for investments in the wider Southeastern Mediterranean region.
The sources said that big business groups were preparing to visit Greece to meet with the ministers responsible and implement their plans.
They also referred to the prime minister’s presence at a dinner given by “Washington Post” journalist Lally Weymouth, which was also attended by US Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin, US Secretary for Commerce Wilbur Ross and US Secretary for Transportation Elaine Chao.
Ahead of Mitsotakis’ visit to Paris and a meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron, the Greek prime minister will participate in an economic and investments forum on the Greek economy on January 29 while he also met with French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire in Davos, where he stressed the need to lower Greek primary surplus targets and suggested a “smoothing mechanism” that allows the transfer of “excess surplus” from one economic year to the next.
INTERVIEW WITH POLITICO
“Greece is the closest neighbour to Libya, it is a pillar of stability. We are not part of the problem, we are part of the solution,” Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said in an interview with Politico website released on Friday.
He suggested that the issue is bigger than the mere inner-Libyan questions of power that were discussed in Berlin last weekend. Mitsotakis cited the “additional complication” via a Libyan-Turkish agreement on the delimitation of maritime zones, “an agreement that we consider completely illegal.”
Mitsotakis told Politico he is waiting for the Commission’s — and its Greek Vice President Margaritis Schinas’ — new migration proposals. “Athens will ask for more money — and in return promise to finally start processing asylum requests, something that hadn’t really been done by the previous government.”
“I should point out that we inherited a situation where we had 80,000 asylum applications in process,” he noted.
Greece is building “new facilities” on the islands, Mitsotakis said. “We clearly need funding and infrastructural support in terms of setting up new facilities which will replace the existing ones, which are clearly very problematic,” he said. “
“I want to reach a point where asylum decisions are made very quickly,” he underlined.
“We need to make clear to Turkey that if they want more EU support, they need to keep their end of the bargain, which means limiting the [migrant] flows to minimum, that they eradicate smugglers’ networks, and don’t use this problem as geopolitical leverage to put more pressure on Europe. That’s an unacceptable approach,” he added.
INTERVIEW WITH BLOOMBERG
Domestic and foreign investors are looking at Greece with renewed interest, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said in an interview to Bloomberg on Thursday, on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum at Davos.
Mitsotakis said it’s the first time investors say there is a convincing narrative for investments in the country, adding that his government defeated populists from both the right and left on a center-right agenda, providing a very positive signal to other European parties.
Markets have responded well to developments in Greece, he said, particularly during the last six months. “Look at our bond returns,” he told the two journalists interviewing him, who commented that the returns were actually ‘miraculous’.
“We have a stable government, there are no elections for the next 3.5 years, we have an absolute majority, and we are implementing real reforms, so why shouldn’t (such a thing) happen,” the Greek prime minister said. He said investment interest had been shown by large US technology companies, and that Pfizer was setting up an IT center in Greece to take advantage of Greek talent. These show that Greece is not just about tourism, but about a country exiting the crisis at an accelerated pace.
Mitsotakis said that his government’s target is “attracting 100-billion-euro investments to Greece in the next seven or eight years.”
On relations with Turkey, he said that Ankara has adopted a particularly aggressive stance and signed an unacceptable agreement with the government of Tripoli. “We have sincerely said we want a good and constructive relationship with Turkey, but Turkey’s overall behavior is very aggressive,” the premier said. “They signed an agreement with Libya that is entirely unacceptable for Greece, on the delineation of maritime zones. It’s an illegal agreement, the EU has said so, and so has the United States.” Therefore, he underlined, there is a continuous series of provocations that will lead nowhere for Turkey.
He also pointed out that it is unacceptable to use people in despair like refugees into a tool for geopolitical purposes, as Turkey is doing by threatening to release a new wave of refugees and migrants to Europe.
“We have an agreement, as European Union, with Turkey,” Mitsotakis said, “which can work well, and has worked well in the past, and we must persist in it.” The agreement must be updated and the migrant issue must be decoupled from other issues, he said, which is doable.