Mitsotakis says political change will lead to reforms, growth


Outlining his vision for getting Greece back on track after its protracted economic crisis, New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis pointed on Sunday to private investment as the key for the country's recovery.

“Private investment is the main driver of growth in the Greek economy,” he said during a press conference on the sidelines of the Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF).

“It is the only way that will lead to a rapid decline in unemployment,” he said, adding that his government will send out a clear message that Greece is open for business.

To this end, the conservative leader said he is committed to a 20 percent reduction in taxes on businesses within two months of assuming power, and a simplification of tax laws – echoing his speech at TIF the previous night, where he promised to reduce the unpopular property tax, ENFIA, by 30 percent over two years.

The ND leader slammed the coalition led by Alexis Tsipras for having already agreed with creditors to implement a new package of measures in 2019-20. He said that an ND-led administration will seek to offset the pain of these measures with a new set of reforms and a reduction in primary surpluses.

“I will demand and achieve a reduction in primary surpluses, because I will propose a set of reforms, and we will convince our partners that this is the right strategy for the country,” he said.

Greece’s third bailout expires in the summer of 2018, but Mitsotakis said this is “only on paper” as a clean break would mean that Greece had restored its autonomy.

“What clean break are we talking about if Tsipras has committed the country to new measures?” he asked. If that is the case, he said, then “we wouldn’t need the approval of creditors to implement any of the countermeasures that Tsipras has advertised.”

Mitsotakis insisted that Greece could have already left the memorandums behind in 2015 if the coalition had handled matters better.

“Some people want to forget what happened in the first half of 2015,” he said. “This adventure cost us 100 billion euros and two memorandums. This is the reality I experience in my contacts with citizens.”

Mitsotakis said that the sooner there is political change in the country, the better. “The demand for political change is a constant request,” but, he added, it is not his aim “to spend a great deal of my time criticizing the government.” 

“What Greeks expect to hear from ND is its vision for the next day.”

On Saturday, Mitsotakis said the current administration lacks the knowledge, the will and the capability to accelerate Greece’s exit from the crisis.

“They don’t know, they don’t want to and they can’t,” he said, adding that Greece doesn’t “deserve to live in misery” and be “a poor version of some Latin American republic.”

“We can do better than this, I am deeply convinced.”

He pledged that investment projects in Elliniko, southern Athens, and Skouries, Halkidiki, that are currently stalled, would move forward under an ND administration.