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Politics

Mitsotakis at Metapolitefsi Conference: Greece Missed Many Opportunities, and Must now Leap aAhead

February 29, 2024

ATHENS – The greatest problem in Greece following the restoration of democracy in Greece is the missed opportunities, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Thursday evening in a discussion at the “Metapolitefsi: 50 Years Later” conference, which focuses on the fifth-decade anniversary of the restoration of democracy in Greece.

Mitsotakis participated in a discussion with Kathimerini Executive Director Alexis Papachelas and Kostas Kostis, professor of Economic and Social History at the University of Athens and director of the National Bank Cultural Foundation.

“For me, the greatest (post-dictatorship) problem is the missed opportunities during the years following the restoration of democracy,” the premier said. “Now the leaps must take place. I would like to leave behind me changes that cannot be uprooted, and to establish a series of choices that are nearly self-evident. The direction should be a fast convergence with Europe, covering lost ground.”

The transformation of the economy into one of extroversion and high-caliber services is a one-way street, he added. “The final result of this transformation will be higher salaries, and this is my absolute priority in our second term, the raising of salaries.”

Referring to Greek-Turkish relations, Mitsotakis noted “it is in Türkiye’s interest as well to seriously examine whether we can resolve this great difference, because this will require of Türkiye to back down from some maximalist positions it has expressed in recent years. We have not changed our stance, because International Law remains our guideline.” In the past, he added, “Türkiye had exhibited great flexibility, when the situation obliged it to do something like that. See for example the great openings it is now making in the Arab world.” He added that despite the fact he “keeps his expectations low,” he sees as positive the significant reduction of tension, “which removes us from the danger of a crisis, but also allows us to set out other initiatives, such as the agreement on the migration issue.”

Asked about the fatal train collision at Tempi in February 2023, the Greek PM said, “There was no other moment as hard for me personally as the Tempi. For reasons you can all comprehend, and because really all the bad sides of the state’s manner of operation accumulated there. And of course, the final answers on accountability can only be given by justice. I believe that justice has a heavy responsibility, and I believe it will rise to the occasion. What clashed at Tempi was human mistakes with chronic problems of the Greek public administration, particularly of the railroads, that we all knew was the most problematic part of old Greek public organizations.”

Speaking of the public debt, Mitsotakis said “our responsibility as a government is to reduce the debt. If we have one duty before the younger generation at fiscal level, it is to consistently serve the policy of reducing the debt, from which this government will not escape as long as I am prime minister. We are very strict, when we face demands that have a fiscal repercussion that could make us miss our target.”

In terms of the opposition, and referring to his party New Democracy, he observed that “to a degree, we definitely make things difficult for our opponents, because they continue to see us through the distorting lenses of another era. SYRIZA, prior to elections, was describing a New Democracy that simply did not exist. I do not see any change in that. The opposition keeps saying the same thing now, and I can only wish them, Good luck and good sense, but it’s not my problem. My concern is to move ahed to the very quick implementation of great changes for which I have received a mandate.”

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