New Democracy chief Kyriakos Mitsotakis addresses a party gathering in Ioannina, northwestern Greece, earlier this month. Mitsotakis is launching a European charm offensive, starting with a two-day visit in Strasbourg today, in a bid to reverse Greece’s image as an unreformable country.
Greek opposition leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis will be meeting with European officials Monday and Tuesday with the aim of changing the stereotypical idea that Greece is an unreformable country and, at the same time, outlining his conservative party’s blueprint for rebuilding the crisis-wracked economy.
The chief of New Democracy, which has a double-digit lead over Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’s SYRIZA in the polls, will on Monday start a two-day visit to Strasbourg, set to coincide with the plenary session of the European Parliament. On Tuesday, Mitsotakis will address MEPs of the European People’s Party (EPP), before meeting with several senior EU officials.
Mitsotakis will also have a working dinner with European Parliament President Antonio Tajani. Analysts predict that Tajani, an important figure of Italy’s center-right, could play a key role in the Mediterranean country’s politics should Silvio Berlusconi win elections in 2018.
The Greek opposition leader is also scheduled to meet with Manfred Weber, chairman of the EPP Group in the EU assembly, and other leading EPP officials.
Finally, Mitsotakis is scheduled to hold talks with Guy Verhofstadt, who leads the parliamentary group of liberal parties (ALDE) in the European Parliament.
Mitsotakis’s European overture comes in the wake of an interview with political news website Politico last week in which he revealed the brushstrokes of his post-bailout political credo.
Speaking to Ryan Heath, Mitsotakis said he wouldn’t hesitate to make radical changes if he were to become premier.
“There’s an issue of seriousness competence, professionalism in governance and government,” he said, adding that he wanted “a smaller and more efficient” administration.
“I want to streamline public spending. I want to cut taxes. I want to make Greece an attractive investment destination,” he said. “We paid a very heavy bill for experimenting with Mr Tsipras,” he said.