PATRAS, Greece — In small, often hesitant steps but with eyes wide open with visions of a brighter future, Greece is moving away from the worst of its COVID nightmare, evidenced both by the pleasant banter of citizens seated outside their reopened favorite restaurants and cafes and public servants and businesspersons gathering at events like The Regional Growth Conference held in Patras June 3-5.
The 2021 RGC, organized by the venerable newspaper Peloponnesos, serves as a public platform for dialogue between governmental, regional, academic and business representatives.
Offering critical and optimistic views of Greece’s current situation and its COVID prospect it was led this year by prominent government ministers including Kostas Karamanlis, Infrastructure; Adonis Georgiadis, Development & Investment, Nikos Dendias, Foreign Affairs; Makis Voridis, Internal Affairs; Charis Theocharis, Tourism; Christos Staikouras, Finance; Spilios Livanos, Rural Development; Kostas Skrekas, Minister of Environment and Energy; Vassilis Kikilias, Health, as well as alternate ministers Stelios Petsas, Theodoros Skylakakis, and Vassilis Kontozamanis and several deputy ministers. While he could not personally attend, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis essentially sent his team’s first stringers on economic development, making presentations or taking part in panels moderated by leading academics and journalists.
Also participating were Dimitris Avramopoulos, EU Commissioner, leaders of opposition parties, including SYRIZA, former PM George A. Papandreou, Fofi Genimata, leader of the Kinima Alagis party. Also present were Anna Diamantopoulou, President, To DIKTIO, and Evangelos Venizelos, both past ministers of PASOK, and SYRIZA’s former Greek Health Minister Andreas Xanthos.
After welcome remarks on June 3 by Peloponnesos’ director Konstantinos Magnis and publisher Theodoros Louloudis, and Nektarios Farmakis, Regional Governor for Western Greece, EU Commission VP Margaritis Schinas gave the keynote speech. Guest of Honour Gianna Angelopoulou also participated in a ‘fireside chat’ with Athanasios Ellis, Editor-in-Chief of Kathimerini’s English edition.
Highlights of the second day included a ‘One to One Discussion’ titled A New Era for the U.S.-Greece Relations between U.S. Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt and Apostolos Mangiriadis, Political Correspondent for SKAI TV and SKAI Radio, Karamanlis leading a panel on Regional Policy and Infrastructure/Transportation moderated by spirited journalist Ioannis Politis, and a ‘One to One Discussion’ between Georgiadis and Aimilios Perdikaris, General Manager, Athens/Macedonian News Agency. The presentations of those leading members of the New Democracy party complemented each other, representing the Mitsotakis’ government can-do attitude towards governing and growth.