BOSTON – Main opposition New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis was the featured speaker at 2019 presentation of The Behrakis Family Endowed Lecture Series at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy of Tufts University in Boston on March 7.
Mitsotakis presented his vision for Greece and emphasized the need for political change. He also characterized the Greek-American Community as “a massive, but untapped, treasure,” for Greece.
Industrialist George Behrakis, who established the Lecture Series at Tufts three years ago, is one of the most prominent Greek-American businessmen and philanthropists in New England and the United States.
Speaking exclusively to The National Herald Mitsotakis said, “it is a great joy for me to be in Boston even for a little while, a city to which I have many close ties,” and he said of George Behrakis that he “has contributed so much to the Greek-American Community, to Greece, and to the antismoking campaign for the benefit of the youth of Greece.”
He expressed regret that time constraints “don’t allow me to meet with the Greek-American Community. I want to tell them I am fully aware of the issues that concern them. As Prime Minister, if the people honor me with their votes, I will have the opportunity and the pleasure to satisfy a national necessity by granting the right to vote to the Hellenes of the Diaspora.”
He added that, “I appeal to each one of you to try in any way possible to help free our country from this terrible [current] government. I ask the Greek people to give me a strong mandate to exit the country from the crisis and to regain our national dignity. With your help, we will be successful.”
In speaking to The National Herald George Behrakis said, “it is important to bring Greek politicians, professionals, and scientists to America in order for the youth in our Community to see the magnitude of the people we have in Greece, like Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who is the hope for Greece. Greece needs new blood,” adding, “Greece has a new opportunity ahead which it cannot afford to lose.”
Behrakis also said that “our youth today in Greece are educated. Greece should offer them a bright future so they don’t have to leave the country. I thank Mr. Mitsotakis, who accepted the invitation to come and talk to us; it is really a great honor for all of us. I wish him success in the elections. Our antismoking campaign in Greece, especially among the children and the young, needs his support in order to succeed.”
Fletcher’s Dean ad interim and professor of International Law Ian Johnstone told TNH, “it is a great honor and joy to have with us His Excellency Kyriakos Mitsotakis at this beautiful event.”
Mitsotakis in his introductory remarks said, “the economy will determine the outcome of the forthcoming elections,” and he estimated that “2019 will be a decisive year for the country’s path to recovery”.
He argued that “the country needs a political change” to achieve stronger growth that would be sufficient to actually improve the daily lives of Greek citizens.
He emphasized that, “I am not saying this because it is my obligation to do so as opposition leader but because I fundamentally believe that political change is now a prerequisite for Greece to face the future with sustainable optimism.”
Mitsotakis said, “for the first time markets view the possibility of elections as a positive development that will help consolidate stability.”
Moreover, he analyzed the main pillars of his economic program, which, he said, focuses on investment and aims at growth, but he added, “I am very worried about inequality…When I proposed a development plan for the ‘next day’, I was always talking about growth without exclusions. Therefore, growth in Greece today must be driven by investment. It can no longer be driven by consumption, as was the case in the past. And in order to promote growth through investment, some basic conditions must be created.”
Regarding how Greece will become an attractive investment destination, Mitsotakis noted that he will “aggressively” move to improve the business environment through the methodical implementation of targeted reforms that will correct the systemic causes of corruption and bureaucratic dysfunction.
He noted the geopolitical position of Greece, saying that “Greece has geopolitical advantages,” and he underlined “the role that Greece can play in the broader area of the Balkans and Southeastern Europe.”
Mitsotakis began his speech by expressing thanks and gratitude to Behrakis for establishing the series of lectures at Tufts about Greece, and he referred to the recent death of world-renowned photojournalist Yiannis Behrakis, who was a close relative of George Behrakis.
After the introductory remarks by Mitsotakis a conversation followed with the members of the audience which included university professors, graduate students, and Greek-Americans from the greater Boston area. The questions and answers part of the event was moderated by Georgios Alogoskoufis, former Minister of Economy of Greece, and holder of the Constantine Karamanlis Chair in Hellenic and Southeastern European Studies at Tufts.