Investors will not lose time or money doing business in Greece, Minister for Development and Investment Adonis Georgiadis told Greek Reporter in an exclusive interview.
Georgiadis, who has worked on several high-profile investments in the country, is quite proud of his achievements so far.
“Since I have been in this position, I have achieved a lot of foreign investment for Greece. The first was Pfizer in Thessaloniki; Cisco followed. Among the most important was Microsoft and then Digital Realty,” he said, speaking from his office in central Athens.
Georgiadis added that “there are more direct investments coming to Greece soon.” He declined to be more specific, noting instead that “some of the investors are very famous…A lot of direct investment from the US has already come to Greece and is still coming.”
The Greek Minister of Development sought to reassure US and other foreign investors that the business climate in Greece has changed for good in the last couple of years.
Greece respects investors’ time and money
“All foreign investors that came to Greece in recent years they have already earned a lot of money. Since we came to power in 2019, the Greek economy is doing much better, despite the pandemic crisis, and we have made it clear that as government we respect other peoples’ time and money.
“If you seek opportunities and you want to do your job easy and fast, Greece is your choice,” he stressed.
The Minister sought to highlight the Greek values that make the country attractive to investment: “Dignity, honesty, hard work, respect for human rights, love for Democracy and Freedom. This is Greece.
“It is a marvelous country. The meaning of the world ‘Hellas’ in ancient Greek means “the jewel that shines in the universe,” he emphasized.
Hellinikon investment “could change Greece”
Georgiadis was speaking on the day that the government of Kyriakos Mitsotakis finalized the agreement with property developer Lamda Development on its 99-year lease to begin transformation of Hellinikon, the site of Athens’ old airport.
On June 25, Lamda Development bought the shares of state-owned Hellinkon Ltd, paying a first €648m installment.
Work will soon begin to build new hotels, shopping malls, office space, homes and other features after the land lay fallow for almost twenty years.
For Georgiadis, the development of Hellinikon is proof of the business-friendly approach of the New Democracy government and a personal vindication, as he has been fighting to overcome bureaucratic obstacles for the project to begin.
After years of delays due to bureaucratic obstacles and opposition to the project, many people thought that the Hellinikon project would never happen, but “we made it happen,” he declared.
“Hellinikon is the biggest urban project throughout the European Union. A project which would totally change Athens, significantly change Attica and maybe Greece. It is the biggest private investment in our country since the restoration of democracy in Greece,” Georgiadis told Greek Reporter.
US Investments in Greece: “I have the American flag in my office”
The Greek minister, who is also the vice-president of New Democracy, the Greek ruling party, is keen to stress the strong relationship between Greece and the US. The stronger the relationship, the more opportunities for business across the Atlantic.
“We are strategic partners with the US.”, he says as he points to the American flag placed alongside the Greek and European flags in his office. “Our relationship was never better.”
Georgiadis notes that for the first time this year we have seven direct flights every week between the US and Greece. “We hope and expect that this summer would be the best in terms of American visitors to Greece.”
Investments to Greece bring good-paying jobs and opportunities
He stresses that economic growth will also depend on younger Greeks who left the country during the miserable period of the financial crisis returning home. He says the government is not appealing to the patriotic feelings of those abroad, but rather to their economic prospects.
“We depend on the growth of our economy as all international organizations are predicting. The growth is coming with good-paying jobs and opportunities that will convince those abroad they would have no reason to stay away from Greece.”
In addition, he notes that young people who have left Greece have now gained experience and new skills that will be needed back home.
“Anybody who left the country and wants to come back, he/she will find opportunities here,” he says, adding that “there are not many Greeks leaving the country now, because the feeling and the expectation is that Greece will have an excellent future. There is no real reason for someone to leave.”
The latest projections on the Greek economy from the European Commission are positive. Its summer economic forecast report released on Wednesday says that the economy is expected to grow by 4.3 percent in 2021 and by 6 percent in 2022.
The Commission revised its previous forecast for the Greek economy slightly upwards for this year, while its forecast remained unchanged for 2022.
“No ambition to become Prime Minister”
Georgiadis has been described as an effective minister, but he has caused controversy in the past.
Sitting at his desk, in front of a famous painting of the Greek Revolution, he dismisses any suggestion that he has an eye for the Prime Minister’s post.
“I have no ambition at all,” he tells Greek Reporter. “I am OK where I am.”
“My ambition in politics has already been fulfilled. When I entered politics, I never thought I would come so far. I have a very responsible position and I would like to serve Greece and Kyriakos Mitsotakis as Prime Minister,” he adds.