Interview / IBNA: Olga Gerovasili: “Kyriakos Mitsotakis is putting the cart before the horse”

Interview / IBNA: Olga Gerovasili: “Kyriakos Mitsotakis is putting the cart before the horse”

Athens, September 20, 2016/ Independent Balkan News Agency

By Spiros Sideris

Greek Government Spokesperson Mrs. Olga Gerovasili gave an exclusive interview to Spiros Sideris for Independent Balkan News Agency

How feasible is the new narrative of the government for “fair growth” and how could the adjustment program be completed and production rebuilt?

The goal of fair growth was fundamental to our program even before the election. We described then to Greek citizens everything that would happen in the period that the agreement of the summer of 2015 will be implemented. One year on we are implementing the timetable efficiently. We achieved significantly better performance in all indicators the first implementation year and we have already completed the hardest part with success. From the beginning we said that the return to growth should be expected late 2016. All indications point to the conclusion that the application is feasible and it can be completed. Beyond that though, the old growth model of PASOK and New Democracy cannot be repeated. That is the artifical growth of the economy on unstable ground and with the channeling of huge growth funds to five or ten selected people. The Greek people paid dearly. Now there is a unique opportunity in the context of modern Greek history for our citizens to finally enjoy the fruits of their toil. Actual production, with effective result and fair redistribution. It is this new growth model that the Prime Minister has already outlined and we are building step by step, keeping society on its feet at the same time and with cohesion.

The leader of the main opposition tabled at the Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF) an “Agreement of Truth” as he called his pledges. He is appearing like a PM in waiting and recent opinion polls give him a winning air. How concerned are you about this?

What exactly should concern us? About a portrait being build on media terms and with media mechanisms? At the TIF we saw a television show. With directing, lights and a scenario. That is as far as the New Democracy leadership can go. But scratching beneath the glamorous wrapping, the citizen sees the already known Kyriacos Mitsotakis and the known reality of New Democracy. Everything they experienced at first hand in recent years and everything they want to forget. And Mr. Mitsotakis is asking them to have more of the same reheated food and believe it is a gourmet dish.

In Thessaloniki Mr. Mitsotakis implicitly confessed that will increase VAT on medicine although he did not specify if he will take it to 11 or 22 pct. That he was not interested in the contracts and salaries in the private sector, and that if necessary – in order to be “competitive” – wages can go even lower.

He described the model of public services he will follow, with additional layoffs of contract workers, obviously tranferring activities and funds to private individuals who live off the State. He did not hide that he believes Health and Education can take more cuts. In fact, he did not say anything that the people don’t already know, as he insists on the failed recipes of New Democracy. At the same time, he winked again to the same vested interests that milked the State dry all the previous years.

Ultimately why should Mr. Mitsotakis worry us when he himself admitted that everything he pledges will happen on all sorts of conditions regarding the course of the economy, putting the cart before the horse? Quite simply because he knows that he has three years ahead of him before the next election.

The Summit of EU Mediterranean countries which was first activated by Alexis Tsipras is aiming to create a “Southern Front” against the policy that clearly emanates from the “North” of Europe. Will efforts by the Prime Minister to create alliances within the EU have tangible results?

Alexis Tsipras overturned a reality of decades for our country. We had been used under the previous governments of seeing Greece treated like a poor relation in the European family. So, when the economic crisis broke out, the political elite that caused it not only did not negotiate for the interests of the country, but imposed a general silence in society that was resisting. For the first time in a long while a Greek Prime Minister addressed partners as an equal member of the EU. The road to recovering our national dignity though had already become longer and tougher. Even in the absolute prevalence of the austerity model, at times when New Democracy and PASOK even condemned diplomatic initiatives to exit the crisis, Alexis Tsipras was not deterred. Consistently and persistently he looked for a solution within the European family and his effort begun to succeed. The fact that the Summit of EU Med countries alarmed the ambassadors of European austerity, shows the importance of this initiative. The questioning of the stifling policy is now more than evident and expressed at the highest level. I believe that 2017 will be a year of important developments in Europe and I remain confident that these will be in the right direction following the shock Brexit was for Europe. Greece can and will be at the center of these changes from a stronger and more credible position.

Next month the fourth Summit will take place in the context of the Trilateral Cooperation between Greece-Cyprus-Egypt. Is this diplomatic initiative fruitful in our sensitive geostrategic neighborhood?

The Trilateral Cooperation between Greece, Cyprus and Egypt presents dynamism through a productive and constructive dialogue, with specific content. Tripartite meetings have already laid the foundations of a mechanism for cooperation and partnership. Working as a model for regional dialogue, contributing to peace, stability and strengthening of democracy in the Eastern Mediterranean. It further promotes relations between the European Union and the Arab world and at the same time creates a cooperation triangle with added value for all parties involved. The three Mediterranean countries, located very close to crisis areas, are inevitably influenced by them. Apart from contributing to stability and peace, the Trilateral Cooperation promotes concrete projects and programs in the areas of trade and energy.

In this complex diplomatic environment Greece has a very strong presence, constantly undertaking initiatives. After many years of inactivity and it returns to having a key role among Mediterranean countries, Europe and the Middle East. Not only is Cyprus’ position being supported, but the tole of the country as a pole of stability and security is broadly supported. Initiatives for cooperation and promoting peace in the region, do not stop here. It is worth noting that for the first time a trilateral meeting of Greece, Cyprus and Palestine is being held at the level of Foreign Ministers on the sidelines of the 71st Session of the UN General Assembly.

What to expect from the Prime Minister’s trip to the US for the 71th UN General Assembly, from the contacts and meetings he will have at the UN HQ?

The main focus of the UN General Assembly is the growing, global issue of refugee and migration flows. The Greek Prime Minister has the honor to address the Assembly and co-chair the Roundtable for managing large scale refugee and migration movement. The unfortunate juncture of two crises in our country, the economic and the refugee crises, has caused us increased difficulties but also proved that humanism, solidarity and hospitality remain very high amongst the values held by Greeks. Secondly, we brought our country to the forefront of developments in the management of refugee flows. At the time that Europe did not even perceive the magnitude of the problem,our country faced flows of thousands of people arriving on the shores of our islands. The first coordinated management of the migration effort was undoubtedly the EU-Turkey agreement, for which the contribution of Greece was crucial. Again we have a leading role at global level in order for the principles of humanitarianism and international law to prevail in the management of the refugee issue under the “umbrella” of the United Nations.

The aim is to broaden the concerted effort for the safe movement of refugees and migrants, in terms of legality, and to simultaneously relieve the first host countries which received a lot of pressure in previous years. The agenda includes issues of regional security, but also addressing the causes that give rise to refugees.

As part of his trip, the Greek Prime Minister will also meet with the Secretary General of the UN, Ban Ki-Moon, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.