The Prime Minister of Greece, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, attended an event at LSE last week to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the university’s Hellenic Observatory. In the 25 years of its history, the Hellenic Observatory has been established as a premier centre promoting interdisciplinary research and debate on contemporary Greece and Cyprus.
In conversation with the Director of the Hellenic Observatory, Kevin Featherstone, and in front of a packed audience in the Sheik Zayed Theatre, Mr Mitsotakis discussed the challenges facing Greece and Europe, his vision for the country and changing geopolitics in the region.
Mr Mitsotakis recalled fond memories of his own time as an exchange student at LSE and praised the Hellenic Observatory for its “tremendous contribution to the study of modern Greece”.
In a conversation that lasted for approximately an hour, the Prime Minister answered challenging questions on a wide range of topical issues including the state of the Greek economy, immigration and the question of push backs, Europe and the energy crisis, the phone-tapping case and freedom of press in Greece.
When asked about Europe and the values of liberal democracy, the Prime Minister said we have seen a retrenchment in these values, but that it is not just a European trend. He noted: “I think liberal democracy is facing serious challenges on numerous fronts including the rise of populism and when I speak about populism, I’m referring to populists on the left and on the right.
“We’ve had our own experience of populists in power in Greece while, at the same time, we constantly have a need to re-invent what modern liberal democracy truly means and convince everyone that, at the end of the day, apart from the fact we think it is a morally superior form of government, it is also a more effective form of government in terms of delivering results for our people.”
In response to a question on the economy, Mr Mitsotakis praised the work of LSE academic Professor Chris Pissarides, who was sitting in the audience and who authored a significant report identifying important reforms for Greece over the next decade following the country’s debt crisis.
Another topic covered in the discussion was the reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures where the Prime Minister said there was “progress” and a sense of “momentum” in talks with Britain. He noted that there could be a “win-win solution” for the reunification of the Sculptures in Greece while taking into consideration the concerns of the British Museum.
Going forwards, Mr Mitsotakis said he feels Greece has turned a corner and we are at the beginning of a good period for the country.
The event was attended by international media and a detailed video was featured on ERT news. Among others, Reuters, Kathimerini, Ethnos, ant1news.gr, DW, protothema.gr, iefimerida.gr and thetoc.gr also covered the event.
For a full recording of the event, please visit LSE’s YouTube channel.