Our courage is the courage of our people

Speech during the award ceremony by the Committee of “Politique Internationale” in Paris

Ladies and gentlemen,

It is a great honor.

I would like to warmly thank you for this honorable award.

Allow me to say that this award belongs to the Greek people and I accept it in its behalf. Because our own strength is the vigor of our people.

From the Greek people and its historic experience and maturity, we draw courage to stand strong in the twilight of the great test of the last seven years.

Because I try as Prime Minister, and allow me only self-centered reference, to have as a compass the interest of the great social majority in front of which I am indifferent to the temporary self-praise or the political costs of my choices.

In this sense, if I considered the award to be personal, I would say that you gave it to me because I was often unpleasant and you want to encourage me to continue.

But without the support of the Greek people, as expressed in a number of confrontations, I would not be in this room today.

The tests, particularly during the first period of our government, between the two elections in January and September 2015, were great.

And many times even today I feel like Odysseus who was tied to the ship’s mast in order not to react to the sound of the siren song.

And somehow so committed to our strategy and with compass, the interest of the many is we are slowly bringing the ship on calm waters.

In fact, we managed to abolish the plan to drive the country to an organized or not bankruptcy.

And with the support of our people, we did not cave. We stood up – and we are proud of it. We said no to a hopeless and catastrophic adventure for Greece and Europe.

Today, however, ladies and gentlemen, all this seems too distant.

Because Greece has already turned a page. And looking ahead.

And that is what we have achieved, taking on a great responsibility to accomplish this.

A task with difficulties that perhaps no other government faced in the years after the collapse of the seven-year dictatorship in 1974.

And in a few months, in the summer of 18, we are driving the country safely out of the Memoranda and the Guardianship.

And we end a prolonged period that leaves deep wounds to the social majority, to the productive structure of the country, but also to its institutions.

We managed to go a long way in the last two years.

The economy is recovering and running at a rate of growth expected to be close to 2% at the end of 2017.

For the third consecutive year, fiscal outperformance is recorded.

That is why we have proceeded with an exceptional aid, as a social dividend, to those who are in real need.

Unemployment has been reduced by more than 6% since the day we took over.

And, for the first time since 2011, we are under the limit of 1 million unemployed.

The country regained, on trial basis, its access to the markets, and under much more favorable terms than 2014.

International rating agencies are constantly upgrading the position and prospects of the Greek economy.

In a nutshell, the image of an economy corresponding to a recovering country is shaped. And it no longer resembles a country in a state of emergency.

Already in the third evaluation negotiations, the messages are more than encouraging.

There are no unreasonable demands on the table, nor artificial delays.

Because everyone now realizes that Greece is in a phase of a secure fiscal path, with significant growth momentum.

And now, the main claim, is the next day of the country.

For us the planning does not start in August 2018, but it has already started.

And at the core of this plan, the first priority is the strategy for a new production model.

A modern, sustainable and fair model.

The need for a new production model is not just about the current conjuncture and overcoming of the crisis. It is also a condition of no return.

For this reason, it has to rely on certain axes, the opposite of a state-owned, parasitic model that characterized domestic production and which led to dead ends and collapse.

We need a growth model that will produce goods and services of high added value.

A growth model that will lead to an increase of employment that will provide jobs stable and decent.

A growth model based on well-trained and skilled human resources.

Investing in innovation, innovative entrepreneurship and new technologies. There are both possibilities and human capital to support this.

That is, in a nutshell, a model of growth that will free the country from the trap it was for decades.

In an intermediate position, between the low-cost economies and the economies of high knowledge.

It will free the country and lead it towards a knowledge-intensive economy.

Far from a logic of constantly compressing labor costs, which has multiple disastrous consequences on the overall cycle of economic activity as it crushes consumption.

Logic that, besides socially unfair, is also economically ineffective.

And here is another crucial part of our strategy for the present and the future of the social majority.

Our absolute priority is, at the same time, to regain work.

As well as the protection and widening of the rights deriving from it.

Therefore, Greece is safely moving into a new era.

It does not mean that the difficulties have finished. But today there is a prospect.

The government is giving a long and constant fight, in order the sacrifices and the burdens of the people to bear fruits.

And now is the moment when we shape the conditions of the next day.

It cannot be similar to Greece of 2012 nor to Greece of 2009.

We are not prepared to build the new with worn materials.

It will need effort, hard work, creativity, but our purpose goes beyond that.

And in this sense, your present award, encourages us to continue on this path.

Thank you very much.