Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ speech at the opening event of the “Pharos Summit 2022”

Kyriakos Mitsotakis: Well, thank you. Thank you all. Assistant Secretary Satterfield, Ambassador Tsunis, President Goodman, ladies and gentlemen, it is such an honor to be here with you today. And I can really sense the excitement in the room about what is already starting to become an incredibly fruitful cooperation between US Academic institutions and Greek universities.

I did change my schedule, delayed my departure for COP, to be able to be with you today to share some simple words about how excited I am about this partnership and about how committed we are to making sure that our universities open up to the world and are able to cooperate with the best universities in the world.

I had the privilege of receiving my academic education in the United States, and I have tirelessly worked over the past three and a half years with Minister Kerameos to make sure that we usher Greek universities into a completely new era. And a central pillar of our strategy has been to make our universities more international, to foster the international co-operations that you are currently discussing. Many of them have already been agreed. Many more will be agreed over the next days, weeks, months, years, because I think there is a real case to be made to strengthen the academic ties between our two countries.

I think Minister Kerameos spoke very eloquently about why this is the right time to foster these types of collaborations. What I can tell you is that Greece of the past three and a half years has changed significantly. Many of you associated Greece with a country that was in a permanent crisis. And you were probably right to do so because our country has really struggled over the past decade.

But what I can tell you is that the Greece of 2022 bears no resemblance to the Greece of 2012 or 2015.

It is a country on the right track, a country on the move with a growing economy, a dynamic society, and talented people, who will constantly strive to do much better in life. We are trying to offer our students in our public education the best possible free public education experience. And in order to do that, we passed a piece of legislation that is really giving the universities the freedom that they were always craving for to forge exactly these partnerships that you’re currently discussing. And I think that for the US Universities looking to expand to other parts of the world, there is probably no better place than Greece today.

Not simply because of the lovely weather, the quality of life. I’m sure many of you would love to spend more time in Greece as would your students or your faculty or your research assistants, not just because of the classical heritage of the country. This is not just a place to come and study archeology, classical studies, history. It is also a laboratory of constant change. It is a country that is in a very critical geopolitical position, a country where apart from classics, you can focus your research on topics such as migration, security studies, climate.

The Eastern Mediterranean is a hotbed for climate change, but also a country where our government is committed towards implementing innovative public policy solutions. And those public policy solutions quite frequently have their origin in the academic work that you will be doing. Hence, you will find in Greece not just a very friendly country, but also a government that is going to be eager to further develop ideas that will emerge from these academic collaborations. And I’m so happy that many of these collaborations have already been announced. I was thrilled to be informed that yesterday, Columbia announced the establishment of a global center in Greece focusing on topics such as migration and climate change.

And I’m sure that a lot of good things will come out of this event. On our part, I can assure you that we will remain fully committed towards fostering these types of partnerships that bring together two countries with very deep historical ties. I have very fond memories of the great privilege that I had to address the joint session of Congress last May. And it was an opportunity for me to celebrate this common path of our two thriving democracies that have stood side by side during very difficult times over the past two centuries. And I think that this cooperation that we’re inaugurating today is just one more step in the direction, Mr. Ambassador, dear George, of further strengthening the ties between our two countries.

I wish you all a very productive week. I would ask you to explore the breadth of talent and creativity that exists in Greek public universities. For those of you who will travel outside Athens, you will realize that there are very vibrant universities, not just in the capital or in Thessaloniki, but also in other parts of the country. Please engage with the leadership of our universities, with our professors, with our students, and you will be aware that at the end of the day, the biggest asset of the country is not its geographic location or the weather, or the fact that it is a natural destination for tourism or foreign direct investment.

The biggest asset of the country is its people, especially its younger generation, creative students who are striving for the best, who deserve the best. We are supporting our public education system through taxpayer money, and we have an obligation to offer our students the best possible education. And in order to do that, we need to be able to collaborate with the best.

Thank you very much for being here. I wish you a very fruitful and productive day.