First of all, I would like to say that the honor is mine, to be introduced to this event by Valia, a member of a generation of Greeks, that many in our country treated them as if they were doomed. Doomed to live worse than their parents. Forced to leave their country, while abandoning the hope that this country will someday be able to be built again, in steady foundations this time.
So, I’m happy and proud to be able to say to Valia and all the members of her generation that things are changing. And now Valia and her generation are not doomed. This generation is the most precious asset of a country that is now on its feet. After years of austerity, recession and – the cruelest of it all – collective despair.
But now the time has come, to trust the future of our country to those who dare to imagine it. And I will do whatever it takes, to ensure that this generation will not end up as the “lost generation”, but as the pioneers of a new era of Greece.
Therefore, ladies and gentlemen, allow me to start my speech in this friendly environment, it is the second time that I am giving a speech here, by saying that no one can really argue that the challenges that we have to face are more than serious.
In Greece, Europe, and across the globe, the end of the era of economic crisis that had lasted over a decade now, is good news.
But that doesn’t mean that we now have a stable ground to build a safe and prosperous future. Because some prefer for the ground to be eternally shaky. And I’ m talking, first of all, for those who are eager to turn the clock back to the 1930s. By pointing the finger at the poor, the unemployed, the vulnerable ones. Those who, pretentiously, condemn terror and religious fundamentalism, but they are the first to deny shelter to those who are escaping from them. Those are the same who are building a colossal mechanism of fake news and propaganda. In order to create a distorted image of reality. To deceive people and make them feel insecure and afraid.
But apart from those demagogues, we cannot ignore the voices of the elites. The voices that came from a stubborn status quo who denies responsibility for the wrongdoings of the past decade, who argues that the only ones that are to be blamed are the people and their choices. So we cannot ignore them. Those who are forcing us back. But we won’t bend the knee to them. My government and I are determined to work along with our friends and allies to face the challenges that lie ahead.
We speak on behalf of those who are committed in the search of common solutions to our collective problems. Those who struggle rather than quit.
Those who aim to unite, not trigger new divisions among peoples and nations.
And I believe that at the end of the day Greece is in the right side of history.
Back in Greece, we have made a huge effort to seek, collective and the most effective answers to the crucial questions.
We were the first to argue that Europe should rise to the occasion and begin to discuss on a new framework that rights and obligations are clear but also are realistic and fair. There weren’t many who shared that view. But now, this discussion is on the top of the European agenda.
We were the first, among others I might say, to support the unpopular view that the refugee crisis is not a problem for two or three countries that carry the heaviest burden of these flows, but it is a European problem that needs common European strategy to face it.
We addressed this issue in the base of humanism and respect to those people in need. We joined forces with other countries, to create a common ground in order to find the best solutions. We didn’t let those in denial, to prevent us from the need to face the situation.
We took initiatives to make Balkans a stable, safe and prosperous part of Europe.
We saw that there is a window of opportunity, for a breakthrough on a matter that has been a thorn on Greece’s and Europe’s side for almost three decades. Our dispute with the FYROM, is coming to an end.
With respect to our history. With respect to our peoples.
Because Greece is not petty.
Greece is the leading force in Balkans. And its historic role is to take action in order to lead the whole region to an era of cooperation, stability and growth.
That is our vision. That is how I see my country in the years to come.
A country that takes advantage of its strategic geopolitical role and a pioneer of cooperation and partnership in the Balkans and the Mediterranean.
In this context, we really value our strategic partnership with the US. The 83rd Thessaloniki International Fair was a landmark to our relations. With US being the honored country and giving their vote of confidence to the Greek economy.
And especially in the fields that are extremely valuable geopolitically. Greece is the fastest growing source of investment from the U.S., reaching 1,8 billion USD.
And a critical energy partner of the United States and a champion of European energy security, promoting deeper energy security through diversification of routes, sources, and supplies of energy.
That is why the economy of Greece should be further supported with profitable, new investment. Because a stronger economy, can further enhance Greece’s geostrategic role.
That would be to the ultimate benefit of all parties who share interests in the wider region of Southeast Europe and Eastern Mediterranean.
Therefore, ladies and gentlemen, allow me to say once again that my country has turned the page.
The bad days are over.
But, of course, the challenges remain, in this ever-changing world. But now I can say to you that I am confident that a brighter future lies ahead for my country. I am confident that Greece will be the one that deserves to the Greeks, our history and our tradition.
Thank you very much