NEW YORK – Mytilineos Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Evangelos Mytilineos was awarded with the 2018 Hellenic Capital Link Leadership Award for his outstanding contribution to the Greek economy as part of Capital Link’s 20th Invest in Greece Forum held in New York.
“It is with a feeling of pride and appreciation that I am receiving this 2018 Hellenic Capital Link Leadership Award. I wish to express to you my most sincere thanks for selecting Mytilineos to receive such a prestigious award. Allow me at the outset to state that I consider this award as a recognition of the hard work of those thousands of people working directly or indirectly for Mytilineos, who have made this distinction possible,” he said.
Capital Link Forum, is an annual event where distinguished people not only from politics, business and media and not only from the United States and Greece, gather in New York to talk about the progress of the Greek economy and the Greek society in general.
“Greece is not any more the focus of world attention, which I think is basically good news. No doubt, the interest of this particular Forum is Greece. But before we get there, we have to look at what is happening in the world, and assess the European as well as the global environment, because it is in this environment that our country will have to re-invent its role and come back from the cold years of the crisis, to the normality and prosperity it deserves,” he noted and added:
“If we want to find the solution to the Greek case, we need to zoom out first. There is no more our and their world. We need to be able to read the global challenges in order to understand both our place in the world and its responsibilities.”
Mytilineos said that we have already entered the post-globalization era. “The international order that has seen the world prosper after World War II and the technological breakthrough, at an unprecedented pace, is coming to an end.”
“U.S. under President Donald Trump and the America First philosophy is sending shivers to its allies around the world and creates a power vacuum, so fearful for us Europeans. At the same time, China is slowly but steadily asserting itself, exporting goods but also authoritarianism around the world. The US-China trade and other conflicts, have without any doubt, re-directed the American focus from the Atlantic and Europe, to the Pacific, China and other Asian countries,” he explained.
Moreover, he said, Russia, having emerged from the perils of communism, is back as a big energy and military power, still a small economic force, compared to the U.S., China and Europe.
Regarding the EU, he said: “Germany is fragmented politically and looks like the Far Right is re-appearing after 70 years. France, which never decided if it wants to be the leader of the South or the equal partner of Germany in an un-officially (yet uneven) European directorate, to play either role as it lacks social cohesiveness as we are so sadly finding out these days.”
On the U.K., the once mighty global and European leader, “it has yet to decide if it wants to stay in the European project or go its own – uncharted – future as a small player in the global scene.”
Referring to Italy, with its 2 – trillion euro debt, its huge north – south divide, a problematic political system, and without any light at the end of the tunnel, he noted.
Dependent on the East for its Energy needs, on the west for military protection, Mytilineos wondered where the emerging new state of things leave Europe. And how difficult is the navigation for smaller and poorer countries? (like Greece).
“The decisions Europeans will take for their future will directly affect Greece and its post-crisis evolution,” he said.
“Therefore, in order to address this dual challenge, Europe must:
– Decrease its energy dependence on Russia, by pursuing renewable power, multiply its gas-import routes, enhance its US-origin LNG supplies.
– Decrease military dependence on the U.S. by creating a powerful European Army, that will be an honest and equal partner to the U.S., not a second rate, low budget military dwarf.
These things will take a long time to materialize. If and when.
Regardless, Europeans do not have any viable option, other than fiscal and political unification.
The monetary unification, to which we rushed almost 20 years ago was, in retrospect, a small, timid and ultimately divisive step.
The advanced North Europeans (foremost Germany) have used the “ weak” (for them) Euro, to prosper and boost their international exports whereas the structurally lower productivity South European countries (especially Greece) have had to cope with a “ strong” (for them) Euro, that has killed their competitiveness.
That didn’t work. Despite agricultural and other so called peripheral subsidies from Brussels to the South, the gap was never bridged, actually it kept widening.
And then, the Great financial crisis hit:
North Europeans suffered for a year or two, South Europeans much longer and the weakest link, Greece, collapsed.
European allies and the IMF came to the Greek rescue but to the rescue of the Euro, as well. But, the recipes have been proven so wrong… Only to mention that the country lost 25% of its GDP in just a few years and that was in peacetime, no war, nothing… Only in 2017 this decline seemed to find bottom.
What a new era means for Greece
So, Ladies and Gentlemen, what does the New World Order and past-globalization times mean for Greece?
A) Enhance and strengthen strategic relationships, primarily with the U.S.
B) Continue successfully the regional balancing and close the issue with FYROM asap, with maximum political consent.
C) But most significantly fight hard for the European integration project. In the years to come, not one European country can prosper on its own. Rich and poor, South and North, we all need the European unity.”
4) The Greek economy
No magic solutions: We have to:
– Go full speed ahead with agreed reforms and privatization.
– Create a much friendlier business and tax environment.
– Attract big and small foreign and domestic investments with speedy permitting, a comprehensive energy policy, targeted incentives.
There is a great quote from Washington politics that came to my mind regarding Greece: “that we need to get ourselves off the menu ?to get a seat around the table.”
He noted that Greece ‘s financial crisis is due to three main problems:
– Fiscal deficits
– Current account deficit
– Credibility deficit
We need to deal with all three of them if we want to leave crisis once and for all behind us, and, most of all, the credibility issue.
“Credibility regarding our honesty and our commitment, both on a public and private level, to our obligations. A small damaged country needs private sector leadership and the burden of care cannot be solely placed on the lap of government.
We must all accept responsibility for how the narrative is written and a commitment towards our country and its people beyond the words and the prizes. Mytilineos has always been symbiotic with its environment and I am proud to say, that despite the challenges, we are both more multinational than ever before but also more focused on propelling Greece into the future than ever before.”
Addressing friends from Greece and the US, he said: “Our company has been honored here this evening because, we, in Mytilineos we have faced off multiple challenges, with relative success.
United and through hard work, we managed to create a competitive company that does compete internationally and carries the Greek flag in dozens of countries around the world.
And let me tell you, that was never an easy task. But so many other Greek companies did it too and many more are ready to do it, with all the accumulated hard experience of the Greek Economic Crisis.
The same goes for our country! Through the centuries, Greece and Greeks have seen off so many existential difficulties and hardships. The economic crisis that comes to a painful close, is another one, one that was principally our own making.
It is finally passing…Let’s stay united, and the dream of generations of Greeks, to see a truly developed, mature and prosperous European country, an equal member of a true united Europe is not far…”