In an interview for Bloomberg television, Mitsotakis hit an optimistic note on the prospects of the Greek economy, stressing that “the growth rate reached 16.2 percent in the second quarter of 2021 and a forecast of 5.9 percent may not be high enough.”
He also said that foreign investment interest remained high as well.
In the interview, the Greek leader, who is in New York for the 76th General Assembly of the United Nations, touched on several issues, including the climate crisis, energy cost, and relations with Turkey.
He spoke of Greece’s plans to manage the climate crisis, which had hit the Mediterranean basin hard, with the aid of EU Recovery Funds and foresaw that electricity bills would not rise very high in the next 3 to 6 months, while efforts were being made at Greek and EU level to absorb the repercussions of a global rise in cost.
He revealed that Greece may shut down coal-fired power plants even sooner than planned. “We said we would do it by 2028 …I think it will be possible to do it by 2025.”
Asked about the soaring energy costs, he said the Greek government has taken steps to limit its impact on consumers. He also said that Greece has called for the creation of a European Union-funded mechanism to use revenue from additional sales of carbon permits to curb the impact of soaring energy costs.
“We have made a commitment to support electricity users in Greece. We are doing it by providing state funding but also encouraging electricity producers to absorb part of the cost increase,” he explained, adding that Greeks “will not see significant increases” in electricity bills in the next three to six months.
In terms of Turkey, he said relations were improved this year, but there were complicated legal issues related to marine zone delimitations. Similar issues with Italy and Egypt had been resolved through agreements with each country, he said, but in Turkey’s case the only resolution would come through International Law.
Collaboration with Turkey is also necessary, the Greek premier said, on the migration issue, to control migration flows and fight the human trafficking in the Aegean Sea successfully.
He also forecast that 2022 will be a bumper year for tourism in Greece.
— Bloomberg TV (@BloombergTV) September 23, 2021
Meeting with Microsoft’s Brad Smith
Mitsotakis also met with the President of Microsoft, Brad Smith, with whom, government sources say, he has an excellent personal relationship.
In 2020, Brad Smith announced a large investment in Greece, which is expected to reach one billion euros ($1.17 billion) and — as he noted — shows the company’s confidence in the Greek economy.
As part of the plan, Microsoft announced its intent to build new datacenters which will establish a Microsoft Cloud region in the country, adding Greece to the world’s largest cloud infrastructure footprint and delivering access to low-latency, enterprise-grade cloud services.
To support citizens in both their professional and personal ambitions, Microsoft also announced its plan to give digital technologies skills to approximately 100,000 people in Greece by 2025.
“It is an important day for Greece,” Smith declared, adding that this is “the biggest investment of Microsoft in Greece during the 28 years of its presence in the country.”
Mitsotakis to speak at the UN General Assembly on Friday
The issue of combatting the climate crisis will have a prominent place in the speech of the Greek Prime Minister at the 76th UN General Assembly, on Friday. Mitsotakis is expected to underline the important initiatives which have already been adopted by the Greek government to address the climate crisis, noting that decisive action is urgent, otherwise the consequences will be disastrous for everyone.
The Greek PM’s goal at the UN and during his scheduled meeting with business leaders, according to government sources, is to strengthen the dynamism and openness of the country, while emphasizing its leading role in the wider region, but also in Europe.
He will also show that Greece is firmly at the forefront of meeting modern challenges, taking initiatives for the new challenges, such as climate change and environmental protection.
Among the Prime Minister’s goals will also be the strengthening of relations with the Greek community. He will be meeting with members and representatives of the Greek Diaspora at a dinner on Thursday evening as well.
On Friday, Mitsotakis will visit Ground Zero in New York, where he will be given a tour of the brand-new St. Nicholas Shrine by Archbishop Elpidophoros of America. It was built on the site of the old church destroyed in the terrorist attacks of 9/11.