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Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Konstantinos Fragogiannis’ address in the context of the Parliamentary debate on the government’s policy statements (Athens, 21/07/2019)
“Esteemed President of the Government,
President of Parliament,
Members of Parliament,
It is with a sense of honour and responsibility that I address the Hellenic Parliament today, for the first time.
I would like to express my warm thanks to Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis for the trust he has put in me, assigning me the Economic Diplomacy and Openness portfolio at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
I am here after having worked for over 30 years in international growth in the private sector because I support the Prime Minister’s vision for a growth- and openness-oriented agenda aimed at improving the economy, serving society by making a positive difference in people’s lives and, thus, laying the foundations for a new Greece.
So the vision I will serve, in one line, is “creation of an open Greece with the aim of boosting the Greek economy and improving every Greek’s quality of life.”
Ladies and gentlemen, it is an ambitious vision with a realistic plan. But it is also a priority of the government. So if this is the vision I serve, what are our strategic goals? Very simply, they are:
• Exercising of effective Economic Diplomacy.
• Support for Greek exports and expansion of the export base.
• Attraction of investments, regardless of size.
• Modernization of public administration structures to facilitate investments and exports.
• Re-branding and building, on an international level, of the image of an open Greece.
So, given the strategic targets I mentioned, we will carry out the following actions:
1. We will upgrade and modernize bilateral and multilateral Economic Diplomacy. We will create a single and enhanced agency for exercising openness, merging all of the relevant agencies and services at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs with the Secretariat General for International Economic Relations and Openness, with the aim of achieving optimum coordination, effective management and the existence of a single, clear and “strong” voice. I am referring, of course, to Enterprise Greece, the Export Credit Insurance Organization (ECIO), our Permanent Representation to the OECD, the Office of the Economic and Commercial Affairs Councillor in Geneva, and full utilisation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ structures, which extend throughout the network of missions abroad to 127 Embassies and Consulates General, and 59 Economic and Commercial Affairs Offices.
2. We are creating a real “one-stop shop” that will support businesses by
i. helping to solve problems,
ii. streamlining procedures, and
iii. facilitating investments – Greek and foreign – in our country.
We will of course be working closely with ministries and agencies so that, through the right reforms of the national legal and tax frameworks for business, we can create the right environment for investments. We will promote – to our partners, the competent international organisations and the international business community – the new environment with sincerity, pointing up the country’s new investment-friendly perspective.
3. In our promotion of exports, we are shifting from generalised to targeted actions. We are prioritising markets and sectors of the economy, providing incentives, the appropriate information and training – when needed – together with tools for the openness of Greek enterprises, so that we can offer products and services competitively on an international level.
4. This is why we are drawing up policies aimed at strengthening business organisations in the field of research and innovation, attracting global leaders and, at the same time, promoting start-up entrepreneurship.
5. We are capitalising on Greece’s geographical position, which is one of our comparative advantages. It is one of the characteristics that can bolster the country’s openness. Our goal is to create the terms and conditions for the Greek market – products, services, human resources – to become an international business hub. We are now living in a global village. And technology gives us the potential to meet the new challenges.
6. We are building the new, improved image of an open Greece, internationally as well as domestically. We aim to regain the ground lost due to the extended economic crisis and our country’s poor – often distorted – image. Thus, we are already planning the architecture of the image of a modern, open country. Some people call this the “national brand,” but it is actually much more than that, because it isn’t about marketing – it is about the country’s place in the world.
It is the architecture that is made up of all of the vital individual elements of our homeland’s existence; elements that, taken together, constitute what we want to be. A modern, multidimensional, single, effective voice and image for a new Greece in the Global landscape.
Naturally, we will collaborate as closely as possible with the prime minister’s office, the ministries and ministers, the secretaries general, public administration leaders and personnel, chambers and other civil society and business organizations, because we are allies with a common goal: to make Greece more open!
Since I took up my duties, I have already met many of the personnel of the services and agencies. I was impressed with the level of training, but above all by their enthusiasm for the reforms that are to be implemented.
Naturally, a key ally and voice in this effort will be – beyond all of the personnel of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs – our ambassadors around the world. I believe that, all together, we are building a winning team.
I hope that, along this course, all of us will stand together and support the openness endeavour, from whatever position we are in, in whatever role we can play.
In closing, let me refer briefly to 2021.
Greece will celebrate the centennial of the founding of the modern Greek state. This is a good opportunity to capitalize on the past and lay the foundation for tomorrow. To study the international challenges and opportunities, to make optimum use of them, and to promote an open Greece through this new reality.
To offer a new model for Diplomacy that will become a bridge for business forces throughout the world. To transform the national capital that has moved abroad into a cradle of the New Greece. To look to the future with hope, and thus, with renewed optimism, faith in ourselves and knowledge of our abilities, to improve, as we must, our country’s position in today’s world.
United, we rely on our own capabilities, leaving behind us a huge economic crisis, but a crisis that did not crush us.
We are working with self-confidence for today and for tomorrow.
With respect for its history, the country is again moving ahead.
Thank you very much for your attention.”