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Thursday, June 11th 2020
 
A Time to Reimagine
 
 
 
 
 

Good morning and welcome to the third day of Delphi V. Yesterday was another full day of sessions which were appropriately – given the online nature of this year’s Forum – geared toward the digital transformation we are experiencing, which has been accelerated in the process of the pandemic and is of particular interest to Greece, as it attempts to leapfrog into a much more ambitious growth trajectory in the following years.

The exciting new technologies that were discussed in various sessions are not necessarily here to replace human interaction, but rather to complement it, explained EMEA Business & Operations President at Google Matt Brittin, noting that one of the key challenges for organizations like Google is to make technologies work as seamlessly as possible. “Technology has been helping us during this crisis, but it can also accelerate us out of it”, he argued, also mentioning a number of past and future Google initiatives that relate to the Greek economy, which aim to better equip businesses for the future of work and allow the country to connect with demand and grow again.

In terms of the key learnings of this crisis, Senior Director of Global Government Affairs at Microsoft John Galligan argued that digital transformation is now happening at an unparalleled speed and predicted that in the medium-term we will see the emergence of a hybrid economy that will last for a while, with a lot of activities taking place remotely, across sectors. He also emphasized the opportunity that exists in a mindset shift that will allow us to think of economic recovery with an emphasis on inclusivity, noting that “this is a great opportunity for governments to stop and think of how they want to reimagine their economies, for entrepreneurs to reimagine their businesses and for citizens to reimagine a society that is going to be profoundly different”.

 
 
 
What to Expect from Today
 
 
 
 
 
  • What does leadership under times of intense pressure look like? Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Milbank Family Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution of Stanford University Niall Ferguson get to discuss ongoing developments in Greece and abroad in a Fireside Chat that will take place at 17:15 (Stream 1). The day’s line-up also includes a Fireside Chat with the former Prime Minister of Sweden Carl Bildt (Outlook of Europe in the Post-Corona World - 11:35 - Stream 1) and sessions with various Greek cabinet members, such as the Deputy Minister of Culture & Sports Eleftherios Avgenakis (The Impact of Covid-19 on Sports: Crisis, Opportunities and the Role of the Sports Community - 9:40 - Stream 2), the Deputy Minister Responsible for the Coordination of Government Work Akis Skertsos (Restoring Trust in Governments and Institutions: Lessons from a Live-Fire Exercise - 18:25 - Stream 1), the Minister of State Giorgos Gerapetritis (18:40 - Stream 1), the Minister of Interior Panagiotis Theodorikakos (18:55 - Stream 1), the Deputy Minister to the Prime Minister & Spokesperson of the Government Stelios Petsas (19:15 - Stream 1), the Minister of Justice Kostas Tsiaras (19:30 - Stream 1) and the Minister of Agricultural Development & Food Makis Voridis (19:45 - Stream 1).
  • Macroeconomic and market developments will be discussed extensively by a wide array of experts and business leaders throughout the day. Such sessions include the Fireside Chats with Regius Professor of Economics at the London School of Economics Sir Christopher Pissarides (12:20 - Stream 1), Lyktos Group Chairman Michalis Sallas (15:40 - Stream 1) and Chipita CEO Spyros Theodoropoulos (Production & Growth in the Covid-19 Era - 15:55 - Stream 1), the CEO Talks with Philip Morris International Head of the South East EU Cluster Christos Harpantidis (16:35 - Stream 2) and the former Ambassador of Panama to Greece Antonio Taquis (10:20 - Stream 2), as well as various In Conversation sessions, like the one with "Beyond the Obvious" Founder Daniel Stelter (Coronomics - 15:05 - Stream 2), Managing Partner at BC Partners Nikos Stathopoulos (13:35 - Stream 1), the discussion with former Deputy Prime Minister Evangelos Venizelos and the Chairman & CEO of MYTILINEOS Evangelos Mytilineos (Challenges for the Greek Economy - 16:10 - Stream 1), but also the one between Deputy Minister for Public Investments & Structural Funds Ioannis Tsakiris and EOS Capital Partners Managing Partner Apostolos Tamvakakis (15:25 - Stream 2). More sessions under the same thematic focus will be taking place throughout the day, such as Structural Reforms for Reviving the Economy (12:00 - Stream 1), Global Investment and the Pandemic (12:45 - Stream 1), Investments: Navigating Uncertainty (13:15 & 13:50 - Stream 1), What Future for the International Economy if Multilateralism Fails (17:55 - Stream 2) and A Pathway Towards Post-Covid Competitiveness (15:50 - Stream 2).
  • The ever important role of education, the reskilling of the workforce to meet evolving needs and the workplace dynamics of the future are also big themes of the day, and will be touched upon in sessions such as the discussion between MIT Media Lab Founder Nicholas Negroponte and MIT Media Lab Director of Computing Michail Bletsas (On Our Digital Future - 11:25 - Stream 2), but also through sessions such as The Dual Professional Education Model as a Means to Enhance Competitiveness of the Greek Economy and a Reduction of Youth Unemployment (10:30 - Stream 2), Future of Workplace (10:55 - Stream 2), Future of Work: Building a Sustainable Post-Covid Strategy (11:55 - Stream 2) and Achieving Social Impact: Together Against Unemployment (12:35 - Stream 2).
  • The fascinating intersection between urban policy, climate and energy is also a key theme this year, one which is especially important in the wake of the pandemic. Sessions that dive into these issues include the Fireside Chat between EU Commissioner for Energy Kadri Simson and Deputy Minister of the Environment & Energy Gerassimos Thomas (18.00 - Stream 1), the one with President & CEO of Dimand SA Dimitris Andriopoulos (The Future of the City in the Post-Covid Era: Challenges of the Coastal Zone - 15:20 - Stream 1), but also In Conversation sessions such as the one with Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment CEO Marios Kontomerkos (16:55 - Stream 1), the discussion between Mayor of Istanbul Ekrem Imamoğlu and Mayor of Athens Kostas Bakoyannis (10:45 - Stream 1), but also the one with former Minister of Energy, Professor Yannis Maniatis (10.00 - Stream 2). Additional sessions on these subjects include Sustainability & Impact Investing in the Post Covid-19 Era: Boosting the Transition to a More Resilient & Circular Economy (14:25 - Stream 1), Livable Cities in the Covid Era (14:50 - Stream 1) and, finally, Human Rights and the Pull Factor: Treating Refugees in a Post-Covid World (9:45 - Stream 1)
  • Travel and tourism are top of mind considerations for Greece at the moment and they will be front and center today, through In Conversation sessions with the Secretary General of the Greek National Tourism Organization Dimitris Fragakis (13:40 - Stream 2), the Partner and Clients & Industries Leader at Deloitte Vassilis Kafatos (Greek Tourism Outlook Covid-19 Impact - 14:15 - Stream 2) and the discussion between the President of the Greek Tourism Confederation SETE Yiannis A. Retsos and Deputy CEO of Eurobank Konstantinos Vassiliou (16:40 - Stream 2), but also through sessions such as Short-Term Rental and Responsible Hosting in the Post Covid Era (13:55 - Stream 2) and Technology and Data: Helping Tourism Make Headway After the Standstill (14:25 - Stream 2).
  • For a detailed conference agenda, please click here.
 
 
 
Leadership in Times of Crisis
 
 
 
 
 
  • "It was a quick, strong and common response." The EU's Economy Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni stressed just how different the EU’s reaction to this crisis was, compared to its handling of previous crises. He noted the uniqueness of the Covid-19 emergency, emphasizing the comprehensiveness of the tools at the disposal of member-states in response to the pandemic. "This is a common crisis, there is no national responsibility for it and there are common resources that member-states may use, according to their priorities, with the Commission ensuring that these programs are consistent with our strategic and shared goals."
  • Deputy Director General of the World Trade Organization Alan Wolff spoke of a forecasted downturn in global trade activity for 2020, as a result of the coronavirus and the measures taken to prevent its spread, predicting an upturn next year and a return to the growth patterns of the past. He also expressed the hope that countries will resist the temptation to raise tariffs in response to the difficulties they are facing due to the pandemic. Asked about the relationship between the WTO and the US, he stressed that there is no indication whatsoever that the US might leave the organization, noting the efforts that are being made in the direction of positive reform.
  • Partner at BCG and Head of Creativity and Scenarios Alan Iny stressed the importance of scenario analysis, despite the unprecedented uncertainty that characterizes this pandemic. "The key is to embark in the kind of scenario planning one might do in the long-term, but thinking about it in terms of the medium-term instead; laying out different pictures of what different realities might look like and thinking about what it would take to be as prepared as possible for as many of them as possible. That can lead directly to short-term decisions on capital allocation and more."
  • Former Greek Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition Alexis Tsipras claimed that "we face the risk of losing all that was hard-won over five years in the space of five months", criticizing the Greek government over its handling of the crisis and predicting that "it will be in the difficult position of having to take measures in 2021 or 2022 that could have been avoided". He did however welcome the recent agreement with Italy on maritime zones, noting that "it is a development we could have had in 2016".
  • In a discussion on institutions, the rule of law, democracy and individual responsibility, Deputy Prime Minister Panayiotis Pikrammenos spoke of a new legal framework that will allow auxiliary personnel in courts to assist judges in administrative tasks, leading to significant gains in the speed of the Greek justice system, which could ease doing business and attract investor interest in the country. Former Deputy Prime Minister Evangelos Venizelos also noted deficiencies in the current system, recognizing the potential of technological solutions, but also intermediation and arbitration to expedite certain processes and change things for the better.
  • In a session that highlighted the importance of putting people first in times of crisis, Deputy Minister for Civil Protection Crisis Management Nikos Chardalias outlined the various challenges of crisis management in the era of Covid-19, pointing out that leaders should understand that their decisions have the ability to affect millions of people. He also said that a possible new wave of the pandemic will be treated differently than the first, given that we now have plenty more information on Covid-19. Director of Culture of Onassis Foundation Afroditi Panagiotakou echoed his view that true leaders emerged out of this crisis, also noting the elements that make for great leaders, such as patience, education and empathy. General Manager of Southeast Europe at Google Peggy Antonakou pointed out that we are still in the midst of the Covid crisis and have not yet entered the post-covid era and underlined the important role that technology played in allowing us to keep our daily and professional lives going during the lockdown. Deloitte Greece CEO Dimitris Koutsopoulos spoke of a new perception of how things should be done that is here to stay in Greece, also mentioning the importance of leaders knowing what they don't know and embracing the "day after".
 
 
 
A Message From Papastratos
 
 
 
 
 

Over the last few months, we came face to face with an unimaginable threat, which violently changed our habits, destroying all sense of normalcy. We adjusted quickly. We operated with transparency, emphasizing cooperation and planning. We learned to trust this unprecedented synergy of citizens, businesses and the state, which has been lauded internationally. We won the battle of the present and equipped ourselves with the knowledge to fight the battles of the future. Because, if this crisis proved anything, it is that placing our faith in science, without reservation or prejudice, is vital for the common good. Just as we trusted scientists at the apex of this crisis, so we must do now, with science in our minds and cooperation in our hearts. We are evolving #prostokalytero. We owe that to the Greece of tomorrow, which is being built today.

 
 
 
Business in Flux
 
 
 
 
 
  • Asked about the extent to which scientific studies can be truly independent of the institutions that fund them, Philip Morris International Head of the South East EU Cluster Christos Harpantidis noted that while the science on which the company's products are based is grounded in years of research, it is also open to scrutiny. "This allows us to be a part of a healthy dialogue, in which transparency is key. We have a responsibility to be accountable for our science. We recognized the issue of smoking as one that requires a big solution and that is why we placed all of our efforts there." He also spoke of the digital transformation that Papastratos underwent to become a technology company, a process that was about more than just training people to use digital tools; it was about a change in culture permeating the entire organization. "We also brought in new people with different skills, experiences and fresh perspectives, and we began consciously partnering up with smaller companies, which taught us new ways of working and allowed us to transform ourselves that much faster."
  • Senior Vice President of Global Government Engagement at Visa Inc. Amb. Demetrios Marantis spoke of a number of ways in which the company is supporting the economic recovery in Greece. He mentioned the work Visa does to boost innovation, working closely with FinTech companies to develop local solutions to local problems, but also in the promotion of contactless technology. Greece is already a global leader in this area with a 90% adoption rate, but additional strides were made during the Covid-19 emergency to ensure safe and healthy transactions. Work is also being done to support small businesses, but also in the development and nurturing of e-commerce.
  • "For the first time in history, citizens, social services, businesses and the state, all came together with a common goal. This is a legacy for the future." Drawing a number of conclusions from the Covid-19 crisis, Coca-Cola HBC General Manager for Greece Cyprus Yannis Papachristou pointed out that sustainability and the protection of our environment have gained prominence once again, suggesting that "all of this was a wake-up call for the big problem facing our planet: the looming environmental crisis". He also spoke of important initiatives undertaken by the company in response to this crisis, to ensure the safety and wellbeing of its people, support the market of Coca-Cola HBC, but also the community.
  • In a session focusing on e-commerce in the post-Covid era, Papastratos Director of Commercial Operations for Greece, Cyprus Malta Nikos Fligos shared some insights on the pandemic experience, noting a surge in e-commerce activity, home delivery and electronic orders, a trend that is at least partially likely to persist now that consumers have become acquainted with online channels and have started to trust them. "And yet, in this new era, e-commerce needs to be part of a holistic ecosystem that includes all points of sale", he stressed, noting the importance of personal contact that complements instant messaging and other tech solutions, to offer high quality customer service and build brand loyalty. Generation Y CEO Tasos Spanidis pointed out that, for companies to take advantage of this emerging trend, effective brand communication is key, with Head of E-Commerce at Public Makis Themelis tempering expectations, arguing that now that the lockdown is over, numbers won't follow the same trend of explosive growth we witnessed then. E-fresh CEO Zina Mavroidi noted the heterogeneity that exists when it comes to the e-commerce readiness of different companies and sectors, emphasizing the mosaic of activities that affect the customer experience, especially in times of high demand - from order fulfillment, to supply management, packaging and customer service, to transportation and logistics.
  • In another discussion that focused on retail trends in the era of social distancing, Konstantinos Gerardos, Vice President Managing Director of Plaisio, noted that online shopping skyrocketed during the lockdown period, outlining some of the challenges that accompanied this burst in demand. METRO CEO Aristotelis Panteliadis spoke of the importance of adaptability in times of crisis, saying that his company will not cut costs, but instead plans to expand with more physical stores and investments in in-store technologies. AB Vassilopoulous CEO Vassilis Stavrou also mentioned that his company will keep investing in new infrastructure and technologies relating to consumers' experience, as well as e-shops. From his perspective, Ioannis Kasimatis, General Manager at ΜcArthurGlen Group explained that tourists are a strategic part of his company’s customer base, as they consume more than the average domestic consumer. He mentioned that shopping is different from buying essential supplies, pointing out that "McArthurGlen is an experience".
  • In a session on how small HORECA businesses are faring in the "new normal" phase we have entered in Greece, Executive Chef Dimitris Skarmoutsos underlined the difficulties faced by local businesses, a large chunk of which were unable to re-open. "At the moment we are experiencing a drop in revenues, which is not accompanied by decreases in operating costs, on the contrary." Hotel Brain President Founder Panos Palaiologos noted the great effort being undertaken by the hospitality sector in Greece to avoid missing out on the entire summer season. "Taking into account the seasonality of Greek hotels, this is the perfect storm at the worst possible time." General Secretary of the Board of Trustees of the Bodossaki Foundation Athina Dessypri spoke of the important initiative the foundation is undertaking together with Coca-Cola in Greece to support the domestic hospitality industry, with Franchise Country Manager of The Coca-Cola Company for Greece, Cyprus Malta Lilian Nectariou adding that this initiative responds to the needs of small businesses, offering them a variety of resources. Finally, General Manager of Coca-Cola HBC in Greece Cyprus Yannis Papachristou underlined the various ways in which the company has supported its wholesale partners in terms of financial liquidity, by keeping them informed of market developments and trends, but also sharing its knowhow. "At Coca-Cola HBC, whatever the challenge, whatever the question, the response is always centered on the person. The goal of this effort is to save as many jobs as possible."
 
 
 
 
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Let’s Get Digital
 
 
 
 
 
  • Senior Partner at Deloitte Sir Rob Wainwright discussed cybersecurity in the age of accelerated digital transformation, noting that the urgency of the pandemic and the gaps in cybersecurity were immediately exploited by criminal actors in this space. "There was a sudden spike in the number of phishing attacks, but they were nothing special in terms of sophistication." However, he argued that our vulnerabilities have became a lot more pronounced as we have gone through this "massive scaling-up of working from home". "In terms of responding to the impact of Covid-19, this lockdown exposes us to much greater threats, therefore we have to ensure we remain protected and more alert than ever."
  • Minister of Digital Governance Kyriakos Pierrakakis noted the acceleration of digital transformation that took place in Greece due to the pandemic. He mentioned that his team used all available apps and technological channels, even the simplest ones like the SMS Project, to bring about positive change. He also spoke of record numbers of digital certificates being issued through the government portal gov.gr and discussed the so-called Unified Number, a unique number which will replace all others for citizens at birth, converting current tax registry identification numbers into a broad-use ID.
  • On a session on the benefits and risks of Artificial Intelligence, Secretary General for Communication & Media at the Presidency of the Government Yannis Mastrogeorgiou spoke of the concerns regarding the threats that AI might pose to jobs and personal data, but also of its great potential in being used as an "information assistant". New Democracy MP and Athens University of Economics and Business Professor Christos Tarantilis noted that although AI tools were used sporadically in coping with the pandemic, the exponential character of this crisis made AI especially well suited to this specific threat. He also pointed out the importance of feeding AI systems with more and better data, in order to improve their predictive and analytical power.
  • In a panel session discussing the power of 5G networks, Secretary General of Telecom & Post in the Ministry of Digital Governance Antonis Tzortzakakis explained the technical capabilities that will allow 5G to bring about super-powerful connectivity. New technologies and disruptions like cloud computing, AI and big data are facilitated by 5G, leading us into the 4th industrial revolution. Executive Vice President for the CEE & Nordic Region at Huawei Kenneth Fredriksen spoke of the promise of 5G in improving the quality of all the services we enjoy today and allowing more traffic to be carried through the spectrum, while also leading to a significant drop in the cost of gigabytes. "5G is basically the connection point for all of these exciting technologies." VP of the Market Unit of the Mediterranean for Nokia Sergio Solivera spoke of 5G being the technology that will allow full digitalization of almost every sector in our economy, paving the way for new services that will make our lives easier and our business processes more efficient. "Thanks to 5G, we can actually bring about a very significant productivity increase in years to come."
  • CEO of Microsoft Greece, Cyprus & Malta Theodosis Michalopoulos argued that, in the case of Greece "we saw 5 years of transformation take place in a matter of 2 months". Vasilis Rabbat, President & Managing Director of Xerox Hellas, suggested that the coronavirus pandemic created different market dynamics, forever changing the way we work. He also identified health and safety as an important emerging trend. CEO of People for Business Rebecca Pitsika argued that this new digital era we are entering creates new esponsibilities, but also lifelong learning needs, noting that digital skills are a "one-way street" and expecting the transformation of the economy to affect business models.
  • In a session focused on fighting unemployment through the process of reskilling the labour force, Deputy Minister of Digital Governance Grigoris Zarifopoulos noted that future jobs will require soft digital skills. Chairman & CEO of PeopleCert Byron Nicolaides predicted that the digital transformation will reshape markets, create new jobs, but also opportunities for Greece to grow. Andreas Xirocostas, Managing Director of SAP Greece, stressed the importance of developing an institutional framework for this new digital era, while Manto Patsaoura, Managing Director at kariera.gr, remarked that digital related job descriptions are getting more specific and demanding and that the ratio of digitized jobs is rising, as employers increasingly seek digitally savvy employees.
  • In a discussion on accelerating the digital transformation that is already underway, TIF-HELEXPO President Anastasios Tzikas argued that "personal contact cannot be replaced, but we can always adapt digital tools that will help us create a new customer experience". Nikos Christodoulou, Partner and Consulting Leader at Deloitte Greece stressed the need to think about smart remote working and Giannis Larios, VP of Strategy & Business Development at Vivawallet pointed out that the technology for digital transformation was already here - we just had to adapt to it. "It was a 60-day test for what's to come", he added.
  • Discussing the transformation of urban transportation in Greece, Deputy Minister of Infrastructure & Transport Ioannis Kefalogiannis pointed to the need for policy change and making better use of technological developments to facilitate all aspects of urban transport. He presented a specific plan that has the potential to change the way we move in our cities, with an emphasis on electric vehicles and bicycles. OASA CEO Nikolaos Athanasopoulos talked about the benefits offered by new technologies, from single tickets to route scheduling. Head of VISA Greece Andreana Pappas noted the strong connection between VISA, urban mobility and touchless payment. Director of Concessions at Terna Energy Dr. Alexander Karyotakis acknowledged the rise in e-ticket usage, urging OASA to change its policies, so as to better adapt to the new era and directly help those in real need.
 
 
 
Europe Rising
 
 
 
 
 
  • What kind of Europe is likely to emerge from the pandemic? Professor of European Studies at the University of Oxford Timothy Garton Ash argued that there might be a moment of opportunity in this crisis. He noted that even before Covid hit, the European project was being faced with numerous challenges, such as the EU's relations with the US, China and Russia, climate change, but also Brexit, the North-South divide in the Eurozone, the West-East divide with the erosion of democracy in countries like Poland and Hungary, and, last but not least, "the existential challenge of whether a sufficient majority of Europeans are persuaded of the value of the European project in the first place". The Covid crisis could potentially exacerbate every single one of these, but it could also be an opportunity for tackling at least some of them.
  • European Commission Vice President Margaritis Schinas, asked about makes him so optimistic that Europe can offer a good solution to the issue of immigration after its failure in managing the crisis in 2016, pointed out that the European Commission needs a holistic policy on immigration and asylum. "Our experience in 2016 was instructive, we have learned from our mistakes. Let's use it as a starting point for a new beginning. Now we have better policing of our borders; Europe cannot fail again."
  • Discussing coronavirus and the cost of non-Europe, Vice President of the European Parliament Dimitris Papadimoulis noted that "a common market with a taste for politics is not enough", pointing out that the EU needs a strong fiscal policy, investments, green energy, digitization and equality. "The United States of Europe must be our vision", he concluded. Anna-Michelle Asimakopoulou raised the issue of lost opportunities in the EU’s past, pointing out that, in the wake of the pandemic "someone pushed the fast forward button for digital transformation". KINAL MEP Nikos Androulakis remarked that although he always believed an external danger would unite the EU, he never expected that threat to be a pandemic. In terms of Europe’s future, he stressed the need for "young people to identify with European values and understand the big picture for the EU".
  • In a session on how the pandemic is reshaping the world, Chairman of the Centre for Liberal Strategies in Bulgaria Ivan Krastev noted that the pandemic is "the biggest social experiment we have gone through", observing that the pandemic ended up speeding up many processes that had been slowed down, such as supply chain changes. "Residence nationalism", in terms of the environment, labor and travel, wasn't the right answer to the pandemic, he noted.
  • "My belief is that we as Europeans must stand even closer together in crisis, than we have been doing anyway." Asked about the new priorities of Germany, given that it’s taking over the rotating European Council Presidency in July, German Ambassador to Greece Ernst Reichel mentioned a number of issues that we will have to deal with on the European level in the next half-year - the recovery fund and the multiannual financial framework, the new relationship with the UK which could once again bring us on the verge of a no-deal scenario, the re-opening of borders and the reestablishment of free travel within the EU, which is also of great importance to Greece, but also migration, EU enlargement, climate policy and the Green Deal.
  • Anna Diamantopoulou, President of DIKTIO and former EU Commissioner pointed out that the common EU budget to confront this pandemic is a development of historic proportions. In terms of the immigrant and refugee crisis on the borders of the EU, she stressed the need for Europe to develop a common foreign policy in order to defend its borders. Christos Stylianides, former EU Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid & Crisis Management, noted that "after the decision for the new EU fund, no one can go back, not even the four countries that disagree", referring to the Frugal Four. He also emphasized that in this new era, we cannot hope to survive using the tools of decades past.
  • Discussing the relationship that is in the process of being established between the UK and the EU post Brexit, British Ambassador to Greece Kate Smith noted that although progress has been made on a number of fronts, a change of approach on the part of the European Union is required moving forward. "There are a number of problems, but I would like to focus on one. The European Commission negotiating team is insisting on imposing conditions on the UK, the so-called level playing field, which would bind Britain into European laws and standards and impose European institutional control on UK legal regimes, almost as if we never quite left. Of course that is inconsistent with what the decision of the British people was all about in the referendum of 2016, which is economic and political independence." From his perspective, the Rt Hon Lord Maude of Horsham, underlined the huge common interest that both sides of this negotiation share in reaching an agreement. "The UK wants a free trade agreement, a broad and generous one that will benefit both sides, something much like the free trade agreement between Canada and the EU. It’s hard not to see how this would be in both sides' interests." Citing his vast experience in EU negotiations, he expressed optimism that an agreement will be reached.
  • In a session mapping out Europe-China relations, Dr. Yiwei Wang, Jean Monnet Chair Professor, in the School of International Studies at Renmin University, spoke of the Covid-19 pandemic which highlighted the need for international cooperation and coordination to tackle global challenges. He also stressed that the EU and China share many common interests and objectives. Secretary General of the China Development Research Foundation Dr. Jin Fang remarked that we need to pay more attention to people-centric collaboration that places an emphasis not on profits, but on the safety and security of human lives. Research Fellow at Harvard Kennedy School Philippe Le Corre, spoke of the pandemic being a game changer globally, but also emphasized the need to address underlying issues in the relationship between the EU and China, which have been made harder to solve due to the Covid-19 emergency. Director of the Centre of European Studies at Fudan University Dr. Chun Ding pointed to the economic and trade ties that already exist between the EU and China, mentioning that the common stance the two share towards multilateralism and the fact that they are not engaged in any geostrategic conflicts, could lead to their further strengthening.
 
 
 
 
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Photos coming out of the second day of the Delphi Economic Forum.
 
 
 
 
East Med Neighbourhood
 
 
 
 
 
  • United States Ambassador to Greece Geoffrey Pyatt praised the recent agreement between Greece and Italy on maritime borders "as an example of the right way to do things: transparently and with the involvement of all affected parties". Regarding the Turkish-Libya agreement, he reiterated that the US sees the Memorandum of Understanding between Libya and Turkey as "unhelpful, provocative and inconsistent with the American understanding of international maritime law and the principle that islands have the same rights in terms of EEZs as any continental territory".
  • Special Envoy and Coordinator of the Global Engagement Center of the US Department of State Lea Gabrielle explained that the GEC’s mission is to lead and coordinate efforts of the US government to recognize, understand, expose and counter propaganda and disinformation that’s aimed at undermining the stability of the United States or their allies and foreign partners. "The current pandemic we are facing clearly underscores the threat of disinformation that’s being spread by our adversaries. We’ve already seen lots of false claims and narratives." She spoke about the efforts of foreign powers such as Russia to drive a wedge between the US and their allies, weaponizing information to sow confusion. She concluded that addressing malign influence is now more important than ever.
  • Professor of the Practice of Diplomacy & Int. Relations at Harvard Kennedy School, Amb. Nicholas Burns spoke of the recent demonstrations taking place in the US against racial injustice, noting that an unprecedented number of Americans are standing up to say "enough, we have to support the African American community". "This is having a profound impact in the way the US is being perceived around the world", he added. "Right now we have a leader in President Trump who is dividing us, who is not showing any sympathy whatsoever to the African American community", he said, predicting that Joe Biden will win the presidency in November and restore US leadership around the world. "The difference is that Joe Biden is an experienced leader. He understands our need to embrace our allies."
  • Cypriot Minister of Foreign Affairs Nikos Christodoulides noted that the issue of defining maritime borders between Greece and Cyprus is on our agenda and the relevant announcements will be made in due course. He also characterized the presence of turkish drill boats inside the Cypriot EEZ as an unpleasant sight, pointing out that Turkish actions aim to further geostrategic objectives, rather than energy independence. He noted that the Republic of Cyprus has responded to such actions by making use of all of the tools at its disposal – political, diplomatic and legal – but at the same time seeks to cooperate with Turkey, as it does with all its neighbors, because cooperation has proven to be in the best interest of all countries in the region, in the long run.
  • Greek Immigration & Asylum Minister Panagiotis Mitarachi outlined Greece’s immigration policy, pointing to specific targets such as the reduction of immigrant flows and the reduction of the impact of these flows on Greek society. He noted that the pandemic has functioned as a barrier to migratory flows, adding that when it proved necessary, the Greek armed forces protected the country’s borders effectively. He also spoke of the "Helios" program of the Greek government and its potential to help refugees, but also of the decongestion of Lesvos and Samos structures which has begun.
  • Former Minister of National Defence Evangelos Apostolakis discussed Turkey’s willingness to take advantage of cracks and weak spots in the relationships between great powers in the Eastern Mediterranean geopolitical sphere. He stressed the importance of Greece adopting a holistic approach when it comes to Turkey, which is better than dealing with one problem at a time. In the wake of the Greek-Italian agreement, he proposed speeding up similar EEZ agreements with Egypt and Albania.
  • Discussing the emerging landscape in the Eastern Mediterranean, Alternate Minister of Foreign Affairs Miltiadis Varvitsiotis pointed out that "a circle of 43 years just closed", now that Greece has a deal for an EEZ with Italy, which is likely to motivate similar deals with other countries in the region. Former Foreign Affairs Minister and SYRIZA MP George Katrougalos mentioned that "we are running behind Turkey", arguing that Greece lacks strategy in dealing with its eastern neighbour. National Security Advisor to the Prime Minister Alexandros Diakopoulos stressed that Greece’s national security policy is not a "collision of powers" and that it is better to avoid conflicts altogether. He noted that the Libya-Turkey MoU is an outrageous plan and that the Greek government is ready to cancel it, but without a need to resort to force. Executive Vice President of the Atlantic Council Damon Wilson lamented that the US is not an influencer in the region anymore, as it going through some hard times, but also noted that Greece and the US improved their relations in recent years. Director of Istituto Affari Internazionali and Honorary Professor at the University of Tübingen Nathalie Tocci argued that the EU must be more active at a time when the US is becoming more introverted and China is absent in the Eastern Med. Executive Chairman of EDAM Think Tank Sinan Ülgen pointed out that the EU has no leverage in relation to Turkey’s behaviour while the accession negotiations are frozen. Finally, Alternate National Security Adviser to the Prime Minister Thanos Dokos mentioned both the Libya and Syria conflicts and their impact on the stability of the wider region, while also pointing out the reduction of oil prices is a key reason for the stalling of drilling plans in the Eastern Mediterranean.
  • Discussing East Med energy in the wake of the pandemic, US Deputy Assistant Secretary Matthew Palmer spoke of the US vision of a peaceful, productive and positive development of energy resources in the Eastern Med, in a manner that contributes to the wellbeing of the region and of all the people that live there. He outlined the evolving and exciting energy architecture in the region, in which Greece plays an important role. Professor & Dean of the Faculty of Economics & Social Sciences of Kadir Has University Dr. Mitat Çelikpala focused on the difficulties in cooperating and moving forward without tensions in the region. "The expected energy bonanza in the region has not materialized yet, as there are commercial challenges, military issues, but also security and geopolitical concerns", he stressed. Nonresident Senior Fellow of the Global Energy Center of the Atlantic Council Dr. Charles Ellinas discussed LNG market dynamics, noting the expected overcapacity and low prices that are likely here to stay for a while. "We also have massive environmental factors like the EU Green Deal coming into play", he added. He concluded that the energy future of East Med countries should rest on maximizing the development of renewables and exploiting gas resources regionally, which requires a resolution of regional problems. "The EU could become a catalyst to achieve this, as well as the US."
  • Vice President of Global Defence & Security at CAE Marc-Olivier Sabourin spoke of his company’s vision to capitalize on the experience of the NATO Flight System in Canada (NTFS) to help create a NATO accredited pilot program for Greece, "Under a government to government agreement between Greece and Canada, we believe that a very attractive flight training center in Kalamata can be created, to support the training requirements of the Hellenic Airforce and its allies."
 
 
 
Energy Transition
 
 
 
 
 
  • Lefteris Charalambous, Partner at McKinsey Company in Athens and Loukas Ziomas, Expert Associate Partner at McKinsey Company in London, introduced a new narrative for thinking about climate change. They noted that climate change is already having a substantial impact across the world, but affected regions will only grow in number and size, pointing out that the Mediterranean will be particularly prone to heat, drought and water supply issues. The only way to prevent further damage beyond 2030 is to reach net zero emissions by 2050, a pathway which requires massive innovation and investment, creating significant opportunities along the way. Various stakeholders are needed to achieve that pathway and capital allocation will be the primary driver of action across industries and geographies. A paradigm shift is needed, one that will embed climate risk into our decision making process. Finally, they noted that Covid-19 could act as a trial-run for climate risk.
  • Minister of the Environment Energy Kostis Hatzidakis stressed the Greek government’s willingness to support a Green model of production going forward, based on a holistic approach which will affect all sectors of the economy. In relation to wind turbines on Greek islands, which have been met with resistance by some local actors, he noted that the law allows such installations, insisting on the need for Greece to somehow reduce lignite use and turn to green power. Finally, he announced that the electric interconnection between Attica and Crete has finally been signed.
  • Former Minister of the Environment Energy Prof. George Stathakis mentioned that whatever it takes, we will produce 60% of our energy from renewable energy sources until 2030. "This will change agriculture, tourism and many more sectors, including energy of course." He also proposed keeping one lignite unit running until 2038, while we shift our current energy model to meet EU standards, with a greater dependence on renewables and natural gas as a transition fuel..
  • Discussing the available pathways to decarbonisation for a country like Greece, Hellenic Petroleum CEO Andreas Shiamishis explained that it is a much wider process than is widely understood. "At Hellenic Petroleum we have charted a strategy over the last 6 months which involves a transformational plan in terms of becoming more efficient, diversifying our group portfolio and improving the environmental footprint of the liquid fuels we produce. " CEO of the Public Gas Corporation Konstantinos D. Xifaras spoke of the benefits of natural gas for Greece as the most environmentally friendly of all conventional fuels, which reduces gas emissions significantly, while being efficient and competitive compared to other fossil fuels. DESFA CEO Nicola Battilana said that in the medium term natural gas is likely to be the only fossil fuel in many sectors of the economy, which is likely to ultimately support the energy transition in a cost efficient and socially viable way. Group Energy Director of Copelouzos Group Kostis Sifnaios stressed the great opportunity that lies ahead for Greece as a country and the energy sector in particular, moving from a carbon dependent model to a carbon-free energy system. "Now we have funds available to do so, through the proposed EU recovery plan. This is a very ambitious and generous initiative that can and should allow our economies to push the green transition agenda aggressively forward." Finally, Head of Europe at Enel Green Power Aristotelis Chantavas pointed out the importance of clarifying that decarbonization is a long term process and a structural transformation of our energy system. "In this energy transition, a pivotal role is played by renewable energy generation, in parallel with the smooth phaseout of the current generation fuels and a reliance on gas as a transition fuel. This is a process with real benefits for citizens, businesses and countries that become pioneers."
 
 
 
A Message From Papastratos
 
 
 
 
 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, we discovered the Greece that we were looking for and became a country that unconditionally puts the common good first. A country that emphasizes the "collective" for the future of us all. Now we must all - citizens, businesses, society - take this unprecedented opportunity to continue on the path of what we have learned. With the same intensity of purpose, responsibility and solidarity. Let's make the leap so that no one is left behind tomorrow; a tomorrow that will only come through ongoing dialogue, continued cooperation and mutual respect. Papastratos will be there. Committed to continuing to do what companies with high ideals do. Dedicated to showing up to address major problems with great solutions. Immediately. Sensibly. Together #prostokalytero.

 
 
 
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