Greek Business File, September-October 2019, No 122

Publisher’s Note


Dear Readers,

A new chapter of history opens after the Euroelections of May and the national elections in July, with new faces, new promises and new expectations. New faces in the EU, where reforming Europe is the main objective for the new team at the helm of both the European Commission and the European Central Bank – while also the Members of the European Parliament, fresh from the heat of the elections, will try to capitalize on the fact that populist/Eurosceptic forces were proved unable to get the upper hand in the May elections. They have surfaced from largely unexpected compromises, from those we thought probable winners at the European merry-go-round: two indeed have central jobs in the European Commission, Margrete Vestager and Frans Timmermans – if only as prominent Vice-Presidents. But following a typical Brus sels-Byzantine series of behind-the-scenes maneuverings and compromises, the Commission Presidency went to the German former Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen, a dynamic protégée of Angela Merkel with no known European ambitions. The even more important post of successor to Mario Draghi at the helm of the ECB went to Christine Lagarde, just when the seas turn rough again and the Euro area clearly needs re-designing before a new crisis strikes.  The post was hers because of President Macron’s insistence that the ECB had a Frenchman (or, as it proved, Frenchwoman) to lead it, in exchange for a German top fi gure at the Commission. European politics at its best – but also acceptance of the fact that we live in a “Europe of necessities, no longer a Europe of dreams;” that pragmatism and consensus-building wins over ambitious plans. New faces – largely – also in Greece, with a new team taking over the responsibility of guiding the country forward in a demanding situation and a quite turbulent neighborhood. The Government of Kyriakos Mitsotakis has adopted a principally technocratic stance, with emphasis on going for practical results, relying on policy eff ectiveness – and asking to be judged on this basis. The economy will be the fi rst sphere in which the new team will have to prove its potential, but as the very neighbourhood of Greece becomes ever more fraught with dangers. The ambition of Turkey to establish itself as a regional power to be respected by global players, especially in the hydrocarbons race of the Eastern Mediterranean, creates never-ending problems. The refugee/migration issue is once more causing grave concern. In the whole of South-East Europe, especially in the Western Balkans, emotions continue to run high, but there are signs that a measure of calm is achieved – albeit only gradually – that might introduce a new era of collaboration instead of confrontation. Such is no easy task; Greece can hope to contribute to this, which would in fact return the region to an earlier time, before the World Wars, when co-existence was thought of as the norm. In this issue of Business File, our readers can make the acquaintance of the Indian Ambassador to Greece, Ms Shamma Jain. India is the country with the second-largest population in the globe; a country with multiple faces and with ongoing growth which makes it a force to be reckoned with. It is also increasingly opening up to Europe: India is the Honored Country of the Thessaloniki International Fair 2019; it is also the key force behind the consortium that will start building Kastelli Airport in Crete; Indian tourists are increasingly fi nding their way to Greece. An interesting start to the coming autumn.