Article by Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs for Economic Diplomacy and Openness Kostas Fragkogiannis in ‘Naftemporiki’ newspaper (20.06.2022)


We frequently hear that “crises create opportunities”. Personalities of unquestionable prestige, such as Winston Churchill, Albert Einstein and John F. Kennedy have also clearly stated so. Is this true? And how about evidence to substantiate this claim, especially nowadays when crises have been occurring one after another, on multiple fronts and on a global scale?

And yet the evidence is here and it is close at hand. Our own country, Greece, and the Greek people were recently on the brink of disaster and endured a lasting crisis; we emerged stronger, and now, we are in a position to undertake an active role in the management of today’s global crises and challenges.

Greece is now on a trajectory towards economic recovery, claiming a place among the EU’s strongest countries and consolidating its role as a bridge between East and West and as a pillar of stability and prosperity in the sensitive neighborhood of South-East Europe.

This happened precisely because we, as the government that took office in July 2019, seized the most precious opportunity that came during the economic – and not just economic – crisis of 2009-2019: to bring about a shift in the mindset of the Greek political world and its citizens. As a result, we all matured politically, albeit belatedly and in an abrupt and painful manner. We realized that many practices of the past, such as extreme populism, irrational union demands, reliance on make-believe ‘money trees’, introversion and an unjustified opposition to progress, lead nowhere and need to be changed.

Consequently, what happened was a shift to reason, seriousness, accountability and professionalism. The necessary reforms were implemented, including all that was needed to make the economy more open and to provide support for entrepreneurship and investment. The results of seizing the opportunities of the crisis to date are tangible and evident.

Some of them are:

•    The digitalization of the state and our well-known success story, the portal, which has literally changed the everyday life of citizens and businesses.

•    Closer to my portfolio at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Economic Diplomacy), the strategic investments in Greece of global giants like Microsoft, Amazon, Pfizer, Cisco, Google, JP Morgan. These are investments that are not limited to the traditional investment sectors in Greece – namely real estate and tourism. They are investments in cutting-edge sectors such as high technology and life sciences.

•    Our energy policy on renewable sources. This choice has upgraded Greece’s geostrategic role in the midst of the current global energy crisis, a fact more critical than ever.

•    The strategic infrastructures built or under construction in northern Greece, the TAP pipeline, the IGB pipeline and the Greece-North Macedonia interconnector, together with the FSRU plant in Alexandroupolis, projects of strategic importance for the Balkans and South-Eastern Europe; projects in line with the EU’s collective effort to become energy- independent from Russia.

•    The flagship project of “Smart and Sustainable Astypalea”: a project that I have personally embraced from the very first moment and an exemplary public-private partnership with an environmental and social imprint: an image of the future today, where a Greek island has become a global trailblazer.

•    Our turn to innovation, providing support to the relevant Greek ecosystem, with the establishment of Elevate Greece, the national register for start-ups. The registry already numbers 618 businesses employing around 6,000 people; this is a promising sector with prospects for significant partnerships with international companies.

So, “crises create opportunities” indeed. And as it seems that crises will become more frequent and globalised, we need to be alert and prepared to identify opportunities in these crises: for the sake of Greece and the future of all of us.