Despite the crisis, Greece’s economy continues to have real potential and offers investment opportunities that are currently unexploited, main opposition New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Thursday at the EU-Arab World Summit.
He repeated his demand for early elections, saying that ND was insisting not because of “excessive personal ambition but because Greece now needs a new, determined and efficient government with strength.”
“What is missing is a government determined to carry out reforms, which speaks the same language as investors,” he said. The present government was neither willing nor able to do this, he added.
Mitsotakis pointed out that the third and, as he claimed, “unnecessary” bailout agreement restricting the government’s freedom of movement until 2018, while it was following a mistaken policy mix of high taxes instead of lowering spending.
“Greece was sunk without cause into a new recession cycle. The recovery that had begun at the end of 2014 was violently interrupted and the tragic handling of the first six months of 2015 cost 21 billion euros in lost GDP. We need a comprehensive reform plan, apart from the existing memorandum,” he said.
ND had a plan that it was ready to put into action on the day it was elected, Mitsotakis said, though noting that this was not sufficient in itself to turn the economy around. “There also needs to be a change of culture that facilitates and attracts investments…Greece in our time will be a reliable interlocutor of the international investment community.”
Addressing Arab investors, Mitsotakis urged them to invest in Greece, despite the repercussions of the crisis. “We also have potential to enter a cycle of growth given certain conditions. There are significant investment opportunities in Greece,” he said.
Noting the ties of friendship between Greece and the Arab world, he pointed to the ‘golden visa’ option Greece has offered Arabs since 2013, as well as the right to residence in Greece and the Schengen zone. He noted that there were opportunities for investment in Greek real estate and many Middle East residents would want a residence in an EU country.
He further highlighted the opportunities in tourism and the service sectors: “Even with some delays, there is now a serious privatisations programme underway in Greece, and significant investment opportunities through public and private-sector partnerships, in the agrofoods sector and fish farming. Greece has highly-trained personnel in all sectors, including health, and can be a regional centre for providing services. There are real business opportunities and also a need to absorb significant investment capital of 100 billion euros in the next five years in order to reach the European average for investments. This is what ND is focusing on,” he said.