ATHENS – Predicting he will again beat the now major opposition SYRIZA in a 2023 rematch – four years after ousting them easily – Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis told a leading Cypriot businessman Greece is better off.
“It’s very clear that Greece has turned the corner and that Greece in 2022, entering 2023, has no comparison to the Greece of the crisis. And this was important for us to change the perception of the country,” he told George Linatsas, Managing Director of AXIA Ventures Group.
They were talking about the reviving Greek economy that’s on a path to hit 6 percent growth in 2022 even during the waning COVID-19 pandemic as he has been luring foreign investors and starting the $8 billion development of the abandoned Hellenikon International Airport on Athens’ coast.
“Greece now is viewed by many as a pillar of stability and of significant investment opportunities, at a time when other European countries are facing significant challenges. And I think we’ve been good at leveraging our systemic comparative advantages.”
New Democracy is holding leads up to 14 percent at times over SYRIZA and Mitsotakis indicated he’s looking ahead to taking the Leftists on again and that he will beat them back again.
“We’re already well into our fourth year. We’ll have elections in 2023, we have a very ambitious reform agenda. If anything, we’ve learned also from our mistakes. And I’m very sort of tough with my team and my ministers to always look at what we do well, look at what we have not done well. So I think in our second term we’ll be much more focused in terms of delivering real reforms. And if anything, our appetite for reforms is much stronger now, he said.
“We also have a much better sense of the priorities that we want to tackle, but overall it’s a question of staying in the course. I’ve always made the case that Greece needs two full terms of one government in order to really put it on a different growth trajectory. I think we’ve done a significant chunk of the job. But there’s so much more to be done. I think if you have a government that stays in power for two terms, then it is very, very difficult to undo the progress that we would have made by that,” he also added.
FOUR MORE YEARS
He said there are challenges, especially the energy crisis that has seen electricity bills double in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, with his government responding with 9 billion euros ($9.39 billion) in state aid for households.
“I think we still have some assets we have not fully used. There’s a lot of money that’s going to flow especially into Greece from the RRF that will, I think, help cushion the blow and help us – and I’m convinced about that – avoid the recession in 2023,” he also said.
He added: “The Greek economy is significantly going to outperform the Eurozone economy in 2023, while at the same time making sure that we are innovative in terms of our public policy initiatives to find money to support vulnerable businesses and households.”
He also pointed out, “We started exploration activities after ten years of talking, southwest of Crete and southwest of Peloponnese, where there are indications that there may be significant gas findings. We’re doing it with ExxonMobil, with Hellenic Energy … We need to know if there’s something worth exploring. And I think we’ll have the results very, very soon.”
As for the 2023 elections in mid-year he was optimistic as SYRIZA’s sniping by leader Alexis Tsipras has fallen short and not hit the mark with voters.
“I think we’re a good government. People trust us. We’ve made our mistakes, we’ve been honest in acknowledging them and trying to act upon them. And the opposition hasn’t really changed at all. If you look at SYRIZA and Mr. Tsipras today, he says exactly the same things that he was saying in 2015. It’s sort of staggering that they haven’t learned anything from their defeat and that they still behave in the same sort of arrogant manner.
“We had four years of Tsipras, we have four years of our government. I think the comparison is very clear. People are concerned about the economy and they’re also very concerned about geopolitics. They want to make sure that they can sleep at night without being concerned about the direction of the country.”