Atlantic Council Discussion with Kyriakos Mitsotakis


Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis speaks at the Atlantic Council. (Photo by Eurokinissi/ Dimitris Papamitsos)

Prime Minister of Greece Kyriakos Mitsotakis today spoke at the Atlantic Council, discussing the EastMed pipeline, the agreement for which was signed recently, Greece’s image to investors, and Greek sentiment towards the United States. He cited the fact that the previous Greek government under SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras was slow to understand the importance of the United States as a strategic partner whereas Mr. Mitsotakis’ New Democracy party considered it as common sense and obvious. If anybody follows with any sort of frequency Greek politics or Greek public life in general, they would be able to tell you with utmost certainty that common sense does not reign in that land.

The Prime Minister in fluent English was able to thoughtfully and in detail explain how Greece’s investment image abroad has improved and what measures the Greek state is taking to improve relations with the United States at a time when relations between the two nations are at a historic positive high. Certainly an uncomfortable part of the open forum was when the questions came in about how Greece was handling the refugee and migration crises at the country’s borders. The reality is that the Greek government does not have a solid plan for how to deal with the influx of migrants, which Greece is confronting because Turkey plays a very sinister game, using human beings as bargaining chips so that they can attain leverage over the European Union. In addition to that, the European Union itself has no good ideas on how to mitigate the threat of illegal migration and a massive wave of refugees at its most southeastern land border. Many of the politicians creating policy on this issue reside in countries far away from the front lines of this tragic issue. From afar, it’s very easy to judge and to deem Greece’s efforts as adequate, but I wonder what the response would be had Germany been in Greece’s geographic location with all other facts unaltered about the two countries, or the Netherlands. I am positive that the narrative would be far different and that the continent would make a far different response and take a very different approach to handling this issue of security and of human rights.

Greece just emerged from a 10 year long economic depression and has dealt with this influx of illegal immigrants and refugees as best as it could, the common Greek person oftentimes opening his own home and emptying out his fridge in the name of the country’s trademark hospitality and a desire to do the right thing. It’s dangerous to label those people who are simply emotionally and physically exhausted from the economic crisis of a decade as fascists because they no longer support wide open borders with no control whatsoever.