LONDON – Greek Prime Minster Kyriakos Mitsotakis told a conference of potential investors in London that he’ll win re-election in 2023 and accelerate an economic recovery, make sure it reaches all of society and bring sustainable energy sources.
The economy is on a path to grow 6 percent during the waning COVID-19 pandemic and he said luring more Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) will sustain that, with at least 1.8 percent growth in 2023 as well.
He took part in the Greek Investment Conference organized by the New York-based Morgan Stanley financial services company in cooperation with the Athens Stock Exchange and brought a delegation of business leaders.
During his discussion the American bank’s international chief Franck Petitgas he said that Greece has become a prime destination for business under his leadership he said changed the climate of he previously ruling anti-business Radical Left SYRIZA which stymied foreign investors.
Petitgas acknowledged the economic course of Greece and its prospects, in this adverse international environment. “We feel very bullish in our case in Morgan Stanley, particularly bullish compared to the rest of the world, across all the sectors,” he said.
Mitsotakis, still riding high in surveys so far with the coming rematch with SYRIZA in 2023, said that, “I am optimistic that we will be able to succeed in forming a government on our own. I also expect a new wave, a new boom of investments, because we will have four years ahead of us.”
He also said that, “We have been able to convince international investors that this is really the time to be in Greece. If Foreign Direct Investments is an indicator of the interest that Greece has been able to generate, we have a record year again in 2022. I expect another record year in 2023.”
He said even if his government doesn’t win enough of the vote outright and there’s a second election that it would be only weeks apart and that the Conservatives would still rule the roost.
“At the end of the day, it comes down to who can steer the ship in these unchartered waters. Greeks want to feel safe and they want to make sure that we don’t return to this high-tax, low growth environment of the previous government,” he said.
“I am quite optimistic that we will be able to succeed in forming a government on our own. I do expect also a new wave, a new boom of investments. Because we will have four years ahead of us, hopefully with fewer crises,” he said.
“I always believe that you need two terms in Greece, two full terms to completely turn the corner and to make the case that we change league in terms of how the country is perceived. People associate Greece now with positive feelings.”
BACK TO THE FUTURE
He said, “In the past, when you spoke about Greece during the financial crisis, there were always difficulties- debtor-creditor relationships, crisis, social unrest. First thing that comes to mind about Greece now is not that. That is important,” he said.
While SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras and the Leftists have painted him as an elitist out of touch with the people and noted soaring inflation has hurt Greek households, Mitsotakis said he would make sure the wealth trickles down.
“The priority for me is the quality of growth”, added Kyriakos Mitsotakis. This is not just about 5, 6, 7 percent or 2 or 3 percent in difficult years of growth. Is the growth sustainable? This is a top priority for me,” he said.
“And will it be socially just in terms of making sure that disposable income and wages, especially lower wages, actually come up and everyone has a fair share in the wealth that we create. So for me the quality aspect of the growth that we can produce is very important and the sustainability, digital and social aspect needs to be part of our policies on all fronts,” he added.
He said he would bring unemployment under 10 percent and focus on “reskilling, educating our workforce, opening up our universities to the challenges of the future. And on the social front, a big emphasis on healthcare.”
With Turkish provocations including plans to hunt for oil and gas off Greek islands, he said Greece has licensed the country’s Helliniq and the American firm Exxon to look off Crete and the Peloponnese.’
We need to move away from Russian gas as quickly as possible, which means we need other sources of gas in the short-term. Greece can play a role in this on two fronts: first of all, as a hub for LNG,” he also said.
He said Greece is a leading force in the penetration of renewable sources into the energy mix: “Of course, we are also an important player when it comes to renewables. We are big renewable producers. We have 10GW installed in wind and solar, maybe another 2.5 in hydro. We want to get up to 25GW.”
He said, “We want to be a net exporter of energy. For us, it is really a challenge. We have enough investor interest. It is a question of prioritizing investments, making sure we have the grids and the infrastructure in place to bring in all this renewable energy … we can also bring in energy from Africa.”