Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis attended and delivered a speech at the event organized for the presentation of Google’s investment plans to build its first Google Cloud Region (a region offering advanced cloud computing services) in Greece and the wider region of Southeastern Europe. It is estimated that the investment will contribute more than €2 billion to Greece’s GDP by 2030 and it will create around 20,000 well-paid new jobs in the same period.
“Investments, especially in cutting-edge sectors, are always our non-negotiable and stable priority. Not only because they create national wealth and new well-paid jobs, halting the brain drain, creating a new tendency for young people to return to our homeland, but because at the same time these investments mobilize and modernize business activity as a whole. While, at the same time, they also upgrade our country on the global map of international capital utilization,” stressed the Prime Minister in his speech.
“Digital evolution can become a real springboard of progress for our country. It is a guide for tomorrow, which is already here. A better tomorrow for society and the economy, as long as it has a vision, orientation and a plan. From the very first moment, ever since the Greek people entrusted us with the governance of the country, I have not hidden my vision of a major digital leap for our country. And a key pillar of this national plan is our “Greece 2.0” plan. It is an active element of the country’s economic transformation. And I’m very happy to see that Google, as well as many companies in the industry, are moving in this direction.
Mr. Mitsotakis spoke about an investment, which, “is another link in the chain of important business plans that were not just promises, but plans that turned into action in the last three years”.
“Of course, as you know very well, the road was not paved by itself. Many battles were fought, fighting the beast of bureaucracy, modernizing our institutional and regulatory framework, changing attitudes, correcting peculiarities, ensuring the necessary fiscal space through growth that exceeds even our own predictions, so that this fiscal space can return to the businesses, to which we are granting more tax incentives, reduced taxes, reduced contributions, but also offering even stronger incentives for innovative investments like the one we are announcing today.
It constitutes a continuous, promotional, reforming process towards the digital modernization of the country, the state, but also Greek businesses. Especially, I would say, of small and medium enterprises, so that they can align with the demands of our era”, stressed the Prime Minister.
“We are so excited to be expanding the partnership, so that we can dramatically increase and accelerate innovation and digital transformation in Greece. Not only that, but we are also looking to directly advance the development of local skills to ensure that companies and organizations here in Greece can make the most of this investment. And that the people of Greece are the beneficiaries of the value that this Cloud Region will bring,” said Google Cloud International President Adaire Fox-Martin.
“Greece has achieved remarkable progress in its digital transformation, a fact that also results from the clear commitment of the entire Greek government and the Prime Minister personally in this direction. This is why we are here today, to undertake a new commitment aimed at supporting and accelerating sustainable and inclusive development in Greece”, said Peggy Antonakou, General Manager of Google for Southeast Europe, during the event.
Google Cloud Region: The identity of the investment
Google has announced its decision to invest in Greece for the creation of the first Google Cloud Region in our country and in the wider region of Southeastern Europe. Greece is emerging as a regional hub for the provision of Cloud services, on the one hand because it will not be necessary to use infrastructure and networks located in western, northern or southern Europe, and on the other hand because the capacity developed in our country will be able to serve businesses, organizations and others users in the wider area.
At a time when an increasing amount of work is being transferred to the Cloud, in the context of the ongoing “4th industrial revolution”, Google’s investment in Greece contributes to the further modernization, the boost of competitiveness and the increase of innovation of the Greek economy. It will allow, at the same time, the better utilization of the highly trained workforce available in the country and the reversal of the brain drain.
A Cloud Region, which is based on high-tech physical infrastructures such as data centers and telecommunication networks, essentially constitutes a region providing cloud computing services (Cloud) to businesses of all sizes and also to the public sector.
Each Region has the ability to support, with an extremely short response time, a multitude of services, such as the storage, organization, analysis and rapid retrieval of data, artificial intelligence and machine learning services. In this way, it drastically improves the processing of complex tasks, such as the rapid settlement of financial transactions, high-definition multimedia production, high-demand gaming and digital computing.
According to studies commissioned by Google, the investment for the creation of the Google Cloud Region will bring 2.2 billion euros to the Greek economy by 2030 and will contribute to the creation of more than 19,400 jobs during the same period.
A three-phase cooperation between Greece and Google
Apart from the creation of the Cloud Region, and following its multifaceted presence in Greece, Google will proceed with the creation of two Centers of Excellence in Thessaloniki and Patras, in cooperation with Deloitte, which will be dedicated to artificial intelligence and sustainability.
The main objective is the development of digital tools for the faster accomplishment of targets linked with sustainable development and resilience to the challenges caused by the Climate Crisis.
Google also announced that it will persist and deepen its cooperation with the Ministry of Culture, so that modern art works can become digitally accessible to all, through the Google Arts & Culture electronic platform.
At the same time, Google addressed an open invitation to NGOs and social enterprises to participate in an educational and funding program worth 1 million euros, which aims to support those who develop environmentally sustainable actions, such as eco-friendly tourism.
The Prime Minister’s entire speech follows:
Dear Adaire, thank you for your kind words.
Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to thank you, really thank Google, dear Peggy, for the invitation. But above all, I would like to thank you for the trust you have shown in Greece, during all these years of consecutive crises.
It is true that these past 15 years, not only did Google stay in our country during difficult times, but it also enforced its presence. It thus contributed to the development trajectory of our country. A trajectory that remains steadily upward, despite the unstable international environment.
I will not tire you with numbers. It suffices to look at the trends of all relevant indices. Because behind the real difficulties of this conjuncture, the high prices of fuel, increased prices and salaries that remain low in our country, there is a series of optimistic data that is hidden.
The rate of GDP growth far exceeds the European average. The explosion of investments and the record in national exports are a reality.
Unemployment reports the most dynamic fall in our country. Our young fellow citizens who left Greece in the years of the crisis, are again choosing to return and become part of this major collective effort for the recovery of Greece.
And of course, the State still stands by the side of households and businesses, just as it did during the two years of the pandemic, it continues to do the same now in the midst of this unprecedented and persisting energy crisis and high prices crisis.
Numbers say a lot, but people’s stories say it all. This is why I am happy to have heard, in the introductory video of this event, real narrations by our fellow citizens on how technology really changes their lives and makes it better.
These testimonies prove that the digital evolution can become a real springboard for progress in our country. It is a guide for tomorrow, which is already here. A better tomorrow for society and the economy, as long as it has a vision, orientation and a plan.
From the very first moment, ever since the Greek people have entrusted us with the governance of the country, I have not hidden my vision of a major digital leap for our country. And a key pillar of this national plan is our “Greece 2.0” plan.
It is an active element of the country’s economic transformation. And I’m very happy to see that Google, as well as many companies in the sector, are moving in this direction.
I am really happy about Google’s important decision to create a Cloud Region in Greece. It is a dynamic investment which can contribute to the country’s GDP, as Adaire told us, more than 2 billion euros by 2030 and most importantly, create close to 20,000 well-paid new jobs.
It is another link in the chain of important business plans that were not just promises, but plans that turned into action in the last three years.
I would like to remind you of Pfizer’s Innovation Center in Thessaloniki, Deutsche Telekom’s IT Center, strategic moves by all the major players in global IT: Microsoft, Cisco and Amazon in data centers, in Cloud infrastructures, and other companies such as Digital Realty, who all chose to invest in our country. The agreement by JP Morgan’s with Viva Wallet, which showcased one of the first Greek unicorns.
After all, investments, especially in cutting-edge sectors, are always our non-negotiable and stable priority. Not only because they create national wealth and new well-paid jobs, halting the brain drain and creating a new tendency for young people to return to our homeland, but because at the same time these investments mobilize and modernize business activity as a whole. While, at the same time, they also upgrade our country on the global map of international capital utilization.
Of course, as you know very well, the road was not paved by itself. Many battles were fought, combatting the beast of bureaucracy, modernizing our institutional and regulatory framework, changing attitudes, correcting peculiarities, ensuring the necessary fiscal space through growth that exceeds even our own predictions, so that this fiscal space can return to businesses, to which we are granting more tax incentives, reduced taxes, reduced contributions, but also offering even stronger incentives for innovative investments like the one we are announcing today.
It constitutes a continuous, promotional, reforming process towards the digital modernization of the country, the state, but also Greek businesses. Especially, I would say, of small and medium-sized enterprises, so that they can align with the demands of our era. I was very happy to see the personal stories of small businesses in the tourism sector, who were trained and are now able to use digital marketing tools to be able to promote their own product.
More than 10 billion euros of resources from the National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF) and also from the Recovery Fund, will be channeled into all sectors of production, from the primary sector and manufacturing, to industry and services.
And of course, yes, there have been leaps and bounds in the use of technology. Cloud infrastructure and data centers have been strengthened, and Greece now has a dynamic and increasingly developing entrepreneurship ecosystem.
And of course the State could not be left behind in this logic. As a large customer, supplier of such services, it is now turning to cloud-based logic, both legislative and regulatory, having a cloud-first policy for its own data, while a new institutional breakthrough will facilitate public and private bodies to get on the bandwagon of the technologies of the future.
Big data, 3D printing, blockchain, internet of things, 5G networks: all these are now part of our current reality. They were concepts unknown to many until now, but they are central axes of our policies from now on.
The same, of course – and I’m glad that Adaire attached special importance to this- applies to the protection from ever-increasing cyber threats, something that constitutes a key pillar of our national defense, but also absolute adaptation to the strict standards that the European Union sets for the protection of personal data. An area in which Europe is at the global forefront.
I will not tire, however, of arguing that technology is never an end in itself. It is a necessary tool to achieve a double goal: the best performance of the economy and of course the best service to citizens.
Our digital state already provides Greek citizens with a bundle of 1,500 services through our gov.gr platform. It is a silent revolution that started three years ago and continues. Silent, but dare I say with an explosive social and economic impact. As it translates into less hassle, without queues and bureaucracy, but also saving time, money and boosting management productivity. Employees can now be deployed more creatively in other areas. Two days ago we met with the two co-responsible Ministers in a presentation of the digital KEPA, where the new actions we are developing will make it much easier for people with disabilities to access public services.
This is how we understand the way in which technology can make life better, especially for those of our fellow citizens who are also the weakest.
We heard a lot, in the two previous speeches, about Google’s actions in these 15 years, but also about all the good things that are planned for the future.
Let me single out some actions that I attach particular importance to beyond the flagship investment in the Cloud Region. They show the multi-faceted scope of the technology, as well as the company’s vision which is compatible with it.
First, of course, is the field of employment. Google has been a constant partner in the training of Greek workers in many different sectors and in cloud services. It is an initiative which is now gaining special momentum.
We also had the opportunity to discuss with Google executives how Google can support us in training public officials so that they become familiar with our new policies on how we perceive the use of cloud services by the public sector.
But of course, I also want to welcome your decision to create two Centers of Excellence for artificial intelligence and sustainability in our country. I understand that initially you are aiming to launch them in Thessaloniki and Patras.
But let me also congratulate you for your continuous support to civil society. It is important that you are making 1 million euros available in an open call for new innovative actions in critical areas, regarding the national economy but also social cohesion.
And of course, as I already said, this is a continuation of other important programs, such as “Grow Greek Tourism On Line”. I already talked about it. Or “Grow Greece with Google”, which strengthened Greek entrepreneurship with capital and knowledge. Some 10,000 unemployed people have upgraded their skills thanks to the company’s excellent partnership with the Ministry of Labor and the Public Employment Service.
But I would also note the company’s partnership with the Ministry of Culture, the “Google Arts & Culture” action, mainly for the promotion of contemporary Greek art. We must not forget that Greek culture, in addition to its unparalleled timeless contribution, also has an extremely dynamic modern dimension, which we want to constantly highlight, and the first examples of this collaboration, I must tell you, are already impressive.
Finally, I want to repeat that we all have a sense, I would say an awareness, of the very great international difficulties that lie ahead.
However, I have learned to always look to tomorrow with optimism. And in order to close my speech, let me borrow a phrase from Google co-founder Larry Page, who said – and I think he put it into practice in his own business vision for Google – that “optimism is important because it helps you dare things that most of the people would not dare.”
We, therefore, dare and in this bold and exciting course I am sure that we will have you by our side.
Thank you very much.