«Old things passed away; behold all things have become new»

I think that this is the best title for our first Party Programme Conference, under the leadership of Kyriakos Mitsotakis. It takes place in critical times, both for our Country and the European Union. The crisis is so great, that not one of us can compromise with anything less, than a radically fresh start. We have reached the stage where the picture of the Exarcheia ghetto has become a symbol of current Greece. Law breaking, ruined buildings, a deep, stinking marsh of degradation. Our only means to get out of it is our escape through a new scale of moral values: something among the first ideas trumpeted by Mitsotakis, taken up few months ago in an “ONNED” (New Democracy’s Youth Organisation) special conference.

However, beware: all things have become young. Not “a little morality, a little renewal, a little salt and pepper”. The march to victory is not over allegedly, realistic compromises or petty politics. SYRIZANEL continue everyday their work of demolition of all systems and scales of values that make up a modern State. Their choice in the third restructuring programme remains loud and clear: NO to cuts in expenditure and the restriction of an expensive, counter-productive State; NO to competition, excellence, evaluation; YES to a clientelist state, the promotion of “their own” contraband businessmen, the demolition of the urban class by the slaughter of small-medium businessmen and pensioners.

Once again we come under the hard fate not of renewal, but of full reconstruction on fresh foundations. Which are these? This is the object of serious study and planning, which, I understand, is under way. Today I can only refer to few captions:

  • A radically new tax system is badly needed not only as a kickstart to the ailing economy, but because it affects everything. From competitiveness and exports to the birth rate, town and country planning, education and the establishment of mutual trust, between the State and citizens. It is schizophrenic in a Country with the highest unemployment in the EU to over-tax labour and small and medium business. No national insurance scheme can survive unemployment rates higher than 10%.
  • A free, merit-based, extrovert educational system, apart from its obvious contribution to the formation of future, responsible citizens, may immediately grow into a hub of export and of culture radiation within the EU and the Middle East. 
  • The transformation of our energy system, from the present pitiful mess of entrenched, corrupt interests, to a free, progressive energy market, may indeed turn Greece into an international energy hub and at the same time supply to Greek consumers and business cheap energy, as we had until the end of 1990’s. 
  • Turning our tourist industry to high-income and special lines’ tourism (such as cultural, religious, walking and bird-watching, diving and others) will increase its income multiplier effect and will reduce its negative impact on the environment and social structure.

What are the conditions for such a radical renaissance? They have been spelled out by our national poet, Andreas Kalvos, more than 200 years ago. I shall never be tired of repeating them “Freedom calls for courage and virtue”. Under present circumstances one may apply it to democracy, the economy, education. They all call for courage and virtue.

If we take the courage as a party and as individuals to accept our responsibilities for the faults of the past, such as statism and clientelism and draw with determination the lever of courage and virtue, we may soon see our Country turning its back to the marsh of degradation and we can them resound:

Behold, Old things are past, everything has become new.

This is the vision which should guide us until we generate the Resurrection of our Country.

Yannis Paleokrassas

Former Greek Commissioner to the EU, Minister, MP
Speech at the 11th New Democracy Congress


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