As is customary in Greece, the first “big” political event after the summer lull is the opening of the Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF) at the beginning of September.
This year’s TIF is just three weeks away and the government is already preparing for it. It is getting ready to put on a grand public relations display worthy of its traditions and skills.
No one can forget the historic “Thessaloniki Program” unveiled by Alexis Tsipras in 2014, which was so unrealistic, yet it brought SYRIZA to power. As everybody knows, this particular government has distinguished itself almost exclusively through its public relations maneuvering and clientelism and in no other area.
We pretty much know what the prime minister’s speech at TIF will focus on, since he has already publicly touted his government’s successes, many of which are imagined. Even those that do contain a grain of truth, such as the growth in the tourism sector or the downward trend in unemployment, are entirely coincidental and have nothing to do with the government’s policies.
The new narrative refers to fair growth, social justice, an exit from the memorandum and so on – whatever that all means for Greek entrepreneurs, who appear pessimistic according to a study carried out by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the World Bank.
The truth is that at TIF all prime ministers tend to inflate their government’s achievements while speaking about the country’s immediate future with confidence, especially when it comes to the economy. It is certain that Tsipras will surpass his predecessors, as he typically does when it comes to both of these things.
The Greek people can confirm this from their experiences since 2015, when Tsipras came to power. In this sense, it remains to be seen whether the prime minister will be asked how he visualizes the growth he is promising happening when he and his ministers continually cultivate an anti-investment climate with their statements and actions, and when the public administration remains ineffective and overwhelmed under the special care of the SYRIZA-ANEL coalition government.
It’s certain over the coming days that the government’s preparation for TIF will dominate the political scene. Let us not pay it all too much attention…