At Concordia Summit, Tsipras Says Greece Has “Turned the Page” on Crisis

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said Greece has "turned the page" on the economic crisis. Photo: Prime Minister's Press Office/Andrea Bonetti

NEW YORK – Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras highlighted his belief that Greece has “turned the page” and that the economic crisis, which lasted for more than 10 years, has come to an end, during his speech at the Concordia Summit at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Manhattan on September 25.

Mr. Tsipras has repeatedly referred to the challenges of the younger generation, noting that they are the “greatest resource of the country,” while he also criticized the mechanisms that “attempt to return us to other times.”

At the same time, he referred to the Macedonian agreement, but also the upgrading of U.S. relations, expressing the conviction that Greece is an attractive investment destination.

Former Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis was among those present for Tsipras’ speech.

The NYU student, Valia Mitsaki, introduced the Prime Minister, but first shared her own personal story. She moved to the United States when she was 16, due to the financial crisis in Greece, studied Political Science and has begun working in political offices.

Mitsaki also condemned the term “lost generation,” which many have bestowed on her and her peers, given that they entered the labor market after a catastrophic period in the Greek economy.

“I cannot accept the term ‘lost generation.’ I can confirm that we are anything but ‘lost.’ I speak with my Greek friends here and in Greece, and although the situation has tired us, we have not given up: we want to cure illnesses, build bridges, save the planet, take the country in our hands and bring about constructive change,” she said in her speech.

Then the Greek student introduced Tsipras, who, as mentioned above, spoke about the younger Greeks, who are also part of the so-called “brain drain” in the years of the crisis.

“It is my honor that Valia, a member of the generation of Greeks who many condemned as if they were doomed to live worse than their parents, introduced me. The time has come to trust the future to those who can imagine it,” Tsipras said.

At the same time, the prime minister made it clear that although the country is emerging from the crisis, the road is still long, while making extensive reference to the role played by Greece in the great humanitarian crisis of the refugee issue.

“We were the first to say that Europe should rise to the occasion, starting the debate in a new context in which rights and obligations will be clear, but at the same time they will be fair and realistic,” he said.

Moreover, Tsipras made a special reference to the Prespa Agreement, defending his handling of the matter by his government, and expressing the view that Greece has done what is necessary for security and tranquility in the Balkan region. He said, “We have taken on our responsibility to tackle the problem and make the Balkans a calm and safe region in Europe.”

Finally, Tsipras highlighted the progress made in Greek-U.S. relations, focusing on the Thessaloniki International Fair and the U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross’ visit to Greece.

“The U.S. gives a ‘vote of confidence’ to the Greek economy. Greece is the fastest growing investment destination for the U.S., with investments of $1.8 billion,” the prime minister said, citing the core, geopolitically, the energy sector.

In closing, Tsipras concluded that “the bad days for Greece have passed, but the challenges remain, in a world that is constantly changing. But I am convinced that there is a brighter future for my country.”

Praise from Roger Cohen

Prior to Tsipras’ speech, the well-known columnist for the New York Times, Roger Cohen, made a brief reference to Greece. He focused on Greece’s attitude during the crisis, highlighting its attitude to the refugee problem.

“Greece is a country that, despite being hit by the worst economic crises outside war, has shown generosity towards refugees from Syria and elsewhere,” he said.