“Today, Greece is a vibrant democracy with a thriving economy. A country that has managed to overcome a very painful economic crisis. A country that offers hope to its young people again,” Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis stressed in his speech during a dinner with representatives of Greek-American organizations, in the context of his visit to the USA.
The Greek Prime Minister also referred to the numerous challenges of the last three years, since ND took over the government of the country. “We had to face an organized attempt by Turkey to violate our borders when it tried to send tens of thousands of migrants to our country, from our borders at Evros. Next, we had to deal with the global pandemic. And of course, now, we are called to face the consequences of a horrible war being waged in Ukraine. But during those three years, we never lost sight of our goal.”
“We have managed to turn crises into opportunities and we will remain committed to this path,” he said. We will remain on this path until our mission is completed. And our mission will be completed only when we have reached the point of saying that we transformed the country, changed the fabric of Greek society and that Greece became the modern state, the modern country that the Greeks deserve and that you deserve.”
Thank you very much. Your Excellency, Senator Menendez, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Thank you to all the organizers for this great event. I had prepared some notes, but let me speak, briefly, from the bottom of my heart. Because this, indeed, was a very important visit. It was an important visit for me personally, but also an important visit for Greece, for Hellenism. It was the first time that a Greek Prime Minister had the honor to speak at a Joint Session of the two houses of Congress.
And it was a unique opportunity for me to talk about the special ties that bind our two democracies. The American Republic, which has its roots in the Athenian Republic, is inspired by this unique experiment in the history of civilization. When in the 5th century BC, a small group of Greeks decided that self-government and equality before the law was the appropriate way of government. And of course, the Greek Revolution, which began in 1821, was inspired by the “Founding Fathers” and what had happened here in America a few decades before. And indeed, against all odds, Greece managed to fight and gain its independence. The first nation-state founded in the Balkan Peninsula. And these 201 years since the beginning of the Independence Struggle have not always been easy.
Those were difficult years. But Greece has made progress, because it has always been – like the United States – on the right side of history. And on this 200th anniversary of the beginning of the Greek Revolution that we are celebrating today with a six-month delay, in a sense it was good because we had 18 months to celebrate it. This was indeed a monumental event in Greek history that reminded us of this course and reminded us that the history of Greece was a succession of great leaps of progress, but also of catastrophes from which Hellenism suffered. Overall, however, progress has been remarkable.
And today, Greece is a vibrant democracy with a thriving economy. A country that has managed to overcome a very painful economic crisis. A country that once again offers hope to its young people. Perhaps the most encouraging thing that is happening in Greece today is the fact that many young people who left the country during the crisis have decided to return to Greece.
And their decision is not only due to the fact that we offer more employment opportunities. Unemployment has dropped significantly in recent years. Investments in the country have accelerated. There are remarkable jobs in Greece. But no one decides to return home with their family unless they feel confident that the country is moving in the right direction in the long run. And I believe that this is exactly how Greeks feel about Greece today.
We have had to face many challenges in the last three years, since we took over the government of the country. We had to face an organized attempt to violate our borders by Turkey when it tried to send tens of thousands of migrants to our country, from the border in Evros. Next, we had to deal with the global pandemic. And of course, now, we are called to face the consequences of a horrible war being waged in Ukraine. But during those three years, we never lost sight of our goal.
We always remember the reason why the Greeks trusted us from the beginning. They trusted us to achieve growth, to create jobs, to change the state, to reform education, to transform Greece, making it from a laggard to a protagonist of the European Union.
And I believe we are well on our way to achieving these goals. At the same time, Greece has upgraded in terms of its regional presence. I also had the opportunity to discuss with President Biden the importance of this bilateral relationship not only in the context of our strategic partnership, but also in the context of the new energy architecture in the Eastern Mediterranean. Greece is becoming a gateway for natural gas from the region, but also from the United States. We are investing in our energy infrastructure.
We are helping the Balkan countries get rid of Russian gas. And this is just one example of the scope of cooperation we can create between Greece and the United States. So what I can tell you today is that the future of the country is indeed very promising. We have managed to turn crises into opportunities and we will remain committed to this path. We will remain on this path until our mission is completed. And our mission will be completed only when we have reached the point of saying that we transformed the country, changed the fabric of Greek society and that Greece became the modern state, the modern country that the Greeks deserve and that you deserve.
But today’s event is not for me. It is not for Greece. It’s for you. In today’s event we honor the Greek American community. I was so moved when during my speech at the Congress, I looked up at the balcony and saw so many of you feeling proud of my presence, feeling proud of Greece.
The purpose of this event is to honor twelve very important Greek-Americans who have made significant contributions, not only to their homeland, the United States, but also to Greece. It is my great pleasure to honor you today. I was very worried that people we should be honoring today would be left out. But I can assure you that this will be an ongoing process. Therefore, do not feel offended if we do not honor you today. However, I believe that once you hear which people will be honored today, you will recognize that this is something that probably should have been done a long time ago.
So without further ado, let me thank you again for your presence. Let me thank you for your support to Greece. I’m glad you feel happy today. It was indeed a special day for Hellenism, a special day for Greece, a special day for Cyprus, a special day for everyone. I believe you have every reason today to feel as proud as I do. Thank you very much for your presence. Thank you very much for your support.
Thank you very much for your warm applause. They mean a lot to me. I first came to the United States at the age of 18 and the fact that I am returning here as Prime Minister from this position is very important to me. Thank you very much.