The 6th edition of the Delphi Economic Forum (DEF) kicked off on Monday at the Zappeion Megaron in Athens.
"Greece is gradually and carefully returning to normality, along with the rapid expansion of [its] vaccination programme," the President of the Hellenic Republic Katerina Sakellaropoulou said in her address opening the annual conference.
She pointed out that this year's forum was dedicated to the bicentennial anniversary since the 1821 Greek Revolution, which led to the foundation of the modern Greek state, but was not being held in its "natural surroundings" in Delphi but in a hybrid fashion, due to the pandemic.
"It, therefore, marks the start of the exit from conditions of forced restriction imposed by the pandemic," she said.
Sakellaropoulou noted that the year was a double anniversary for Greece, which was not only celebrating the second century of its independence but also its fourth decade as a member of the European Union, which it joined in 1981.
"These two anniversaries come together to form a single historical narrative," she added.
Referring to the narrative of modern, European Greece, which inspired younger generations of philhellenes to link their lives to Greece and to love the country, she said that Greece was a nation devoted to international legality and the works of peace, which had gone through much but had always "stood on the right side of history".
"A robust, liberal democracy that has gone through terrible crises but withstood and emerged even stronger. An economy that was greatly tested but adapted, reformed and is making a leap to a digital and green transition, aspiring to become an international destination for investments. A country with a long history, a vibrant culture, unique natural beauty. A people that have endured many difficulties, turned to the world with openness and has a right to look at the future with optimism," she concluded.
Below are some remarks from other speakers:
Archbishop Elpidophoros of America called on Turkey to reconsider its decision on Hagia Sophia.
He stressed that “he [Erdogan] used the unacceptable right, as they say, of the conqueror. These practices belong to other eras.” Finally, it is pointed out that he wondered if “Turkey is returning to its Ottoman past, to pre-democratic Turkey”.
The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America was also at the forefront during the Black Lives Matter period.
In this regard, Archbishop Elpidophoros stressed that "the voice of protest of the Church is self-evident. After all, for what we will be judged are life, freedom, living conditions, democracy, health. These are at the center of the Church's interest.
.@POTUS knows Greece its people very well & the Biden Harris administration is committed to raising our relationship to the next level. We want a strong+secure Greece because it advances the interests of the U.S. & makes NATO stronger. #delphiforum https://t.co/vYN9AOgW9a
— Geoffrey Pyatt (@USAmbPyatt) May 10, 2021
Greece is emerging "as a major technology hub for Southeastern Europe," said US Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt.
The 100-million-dollar investment by computer giant Microsoft for a cloud data center to be built in Greece is "a real game-changer in this area," noted the Ambassador.
He also praised Greece's emergence "as a fantastic example of energy transition," and he highlighted the country's significant natural resources for wind and solar-powered energy.
Commenting on the trajectory of Greece-US relations, Pyatt noted that US President Joe Biden's administration intends to continue to see these grow: "This is a president who knows Greece and the Greek people extremely well. He’s made clear that he’s committed to raise our relationship to the next level."
Another key point raised by Pyatt was definitive progress in relations between Greece and Western Balkan countries, citing the Prespes Agreement as an important step in this direction, "changing the dynamic between Greece and all of its northern neighbours."
European Commission Vice President for Promoting Our European Way of Life Margaritis Schinas expressed his certainty that the Greek Recovery Plan will be one of the first national plans to be approved by the Commission.
"The first funds that the Greek economy needs so sorely I believe will be paid out within the summer," he added.
Schinas also spoke of the vaccination program in Europe, and said the union would select only mRNA vaccines after the second half of 2021. Europe has 55 factories that produce vaccines for European use and exprots, and several are subsidized by countries to accelerate production.
The EU vice-president also noted that Europe is a participant in the Covax program to provide vaccines to Third World countries, and has already provided 200 million doses to these countries.
Ομιλία του Υπουργού Ανάπτυξης & Επενδύσεων @AdonisGeorgiadi στην ενότητα «Pharmaceutical Innovation: The future-proof investment» στο Delphi Economic Forum 2021https://t.co/ZVaG99ZXkq pic.twitter.com/oKXt6CfM3z
— Υπουργείο Ανάπτυξης και Επενδύσεων (@MinDevGR) May 10, 2021
Greece has followed a policy that "proves we want a stable investment environment that pharmaceutical companies can invest in," Development & Investments Minister Adonis Georgiadis stated.
Speaking at the session on "Pharmaceutical Innovation: The future-proof investment", Georgiadis said that the government is seeking "policies that will have the widest political consensus in the country possible."
One of these actions, established by the previous government and continued, is a working group examining the idea of institutionalizing an investment claw back, as he called it. "I have no reason to hide what our predecessors did, and I like to show we have a continuity as a state and that despite the sharp conflicts we may occasionally have and a clash of ideas, we are still compatriots and fight for the common good," he said.
"In 2019, we introduced a law with the Ministry of Health for an investments claw back (...) and issued a joint ministerial decision to begin it in 2019, when we provided 500 million euros," he explained. "In 2020 we moved ahead to a new ministerial decision and invested 100 million euros. And we have the political will to even move ahead with a three-year, more stable agreement among us, if all goes well with the Recovery Fund."
Georgiadis clarified however that "the investment claw back is not a tax break, that's why there are no state subsidies. It's a measure that reduces the additional burden the state adds" to pharmaceuticals.
This will be done in exchange for new job openings, research and development in Greece, he said, and a successful example of this is Pfizer's investment in Thessaloniki, which the company chose over six other countries.