Greece will go from a country of “red tape to red carpet”, or so we’ve heard more than a few times this trip. For most of our trip, there has been a sense of optimism from leaders in both the policy space and the private sector. But then again, what’s the alternative to success? There isn’t one that we can stomach.
Today we met with the Finance Minister, Giannis Stournaras, who was more than gracious with his time, despite the precarious situation in Cyprus. When I asked him about the implications to Greece and the rest of the Euro Zone in the event that Cyprus fails to pass an alternative plan, he said frankly that there must and will be a “Plan B”. Risk of contagion would certainly shake the markets, and the Minister stopped short of saying that the ECB would need to explicitly back Greece and the other southern European states if Cyprus is not rescued.
It is understandable that the Minister was interrupted by the Prime Minister himself a few times throughout our meeting, and so to make up for it, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras invited us to visit with him. It was awesome.
The Prime Minister spent 45 minutes with us in a fairly intimate setting, speaking candidly and without cameras. He spoke optimistically about the future of Greece, using the very phrase we had heard throughout the week, “from red tape to red carpet”. His demeanor was cool and collected, his tone “meant business”, to put it as one of my colleagues did, and his vision was clear. I was personally struck by his words when he said that the primary weapon for leaders across all sectors of society is “hope”. We left that meeting inspired by this exemplary leader.
I mentioned in my previous blog post that there is much uncertainty about the success of Greek’s strategy to sustainability. One thing is certain – these two leaders give the country the best chance of a Greek revival.
Dyanna Salcedo ’14
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