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- George Melikokis, A Reigning Patriarch and Advocate for Greek Education
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Leadership 100 22nd Conference – Interview: Dean Metropoulos
Interview by Demetrios Rhompotis
Your take on this conference.
It’s a wonderful conference. It brings together many of us, Greeks, who share something very special. And because we live in a broad society, here in America, we don’t have the chance to do this often.
What do you make of the situation in Greece?
I think they are beginning to make progress. The realization that they have to attract capital, to attract private investment, is beginning to really sink into the country and I believe they are beginning to address this with privatization and by trying to institute fiscal responsibility. I know it’s a very difficult period for Greece and it’s hard to say if austerity will kick start the economy. But on the other hand if you don’t put some of that discipline measures in place it won’t happen either. Yes, they are making some progress. I’m not proud with what I see when I read the American papers that Greece is one of the most corrupt nations and that Greek workers are some of the least productive. We need to address that and I know a lot of the current politicians that are very western oriented and I think they will try very hard to make it work.
Many Greek Americans who have met with Greek politicians say they are incompetent and a waste of time to talk to.
Let me tell you this, we all expect change but it’s not easy to change decades, ,even centuries. of a certain culture. Take America for example, we need to address our own economic challenges here. We’ve got a huge social security and Medicaid deficit, trillions and trillions of dollars. We can print dollars (unlike Greece) and that makes things easier in many ways. But you can see how difficult the debate is in really restructuring the expectations in America, the entitlements and all of that. Greece is a smaller country and they have to do it! At the end of the day, they are highly entrepreneurial, it’s a very educated society, there is a lot of energy in Greece. The Greeks are very smart, very energetic people. I think you have to provide them with a format where people can harness their resourcefulness. I don’t think they have been provided with the right opportunities to grow and investment to support that