A Strong Performance By Kyriakos Mitsotakis!
Posted by hkarner - 17. Oktober 2016
The interview is undoubtedly music to the ears of foreigners with an interest in Greece; or to so-called internationalists. Particularly if they have a background at an Anglo-American elite school and professional experience at an Anglo-American company. Mr. Mitsotakis‘ command of the English language is outstanding (on par with that of Yanis Varoufakis‘). The way he handles himself is impressive and would be respected in any international boardroom. Last but not least, he seems very intelligent.
I am reminded of an experience I had in London back in 1972 when I had just joined an American bank there. I was assigned to the American who handled ship financing for Greek shippers. One day, a potential new Greek customer came in for an appointment with the American and I was invited to listen in. The Greek was utterly polished. A Savile Row suit, a perfect pocket square, perfectly groomed, super manners of an ‚old boy‘, Oxford accent, etc. I was most impressed and I thought the American would be, too. I asked him after the meeting what his impression was. The American said: „I don’t know. I have an awkward feeling. He emphasized so much being Greek but he just didn’t seem Greek“.
As important as it will be for the next Greek Prime Minister to be trusted and respected by foreigners, it will be even more important for him to have to support of his Greek countrymen; to be perceived as ‚one of us‘. The interviewer asked Mitsotakis about this and Mitsotakis said that he always felt perfectly comfortable speaking ‚with regular Greeks‘. One thing is for sure: Mitsotakis is not a regular Greek!
I was impressed that, when asked what his first priority would be, Mitsotakis mentioned the reform of public administration. He claimed that based on his previous experience (he had been the responsible minister for 2 years) he felt certain that this could be accomplished. And I was also impressed that eduction reform was on the top of his list.
My intuitive reaction to the interview was „The message well I hear, my faith alone is weak“ (Goethe). The interviewer must have felt similarly because he asked whether change in Greece was not so much an issue of reforms but more an issue of sociology. Mitsotakis, of course, disagreed with any assessment that Greece and Greeks might never change. It would all depend on the leadership, he said. Well, 100 years of experience would not necessarily support that view.
The cutest statement of Mitsotakis came when he was asked about PM Tispras‘ performance and the current relationship with foreign creditors. He said: „Right now Mr. Tsipras is pretending to reform and I think that a lot of people outside Greece are pretending to believe that Tsipras is actually implementing reforms“.