Andreas Yannopoulos: Attracting foreign investment is key to the Greeks Are Back initiative

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By Ilias Karagiannis.

Andreas Yannopoulos has created from scratch ‘The Greeks Are Back’ initiative, which has become an institution in Greece.

It is an initiative where Greeks, who excel abroad, propose realisable proposals for attracting foreign investment to Greece.

This year’s conference for ‘The Greeks Are Back’ is on Wednesday, November 23, 2022 and will be held for the second year in a row at the Grand Hyatt hotel in Athens, Greece.

The Greek Herald is a media sponsor of this initiative and spoke to the CEO of Public Affairs and Networks and founder of ‘The Greeks Are Back’ initiative, Mr Yannopoulos, ahead of the conference.

Have the initial objectives of ‘The Greeks Are Back’ initiative been met?

Indeed, when we conceived the idea about two years ago to organise a conference with the participation of Greek senior executives working in large international companies in order to submit practical proposals for attracting foreign investments in Greece, we had explicitly stated that our plan was to make this initiative an “institution.” The remarkable success, at all levels, of last year’s first conference gave us the direction and motivation to aim for an even more successful conference this year.

As far as the objectives are concerned, I want to be clear: It would be simplistic to perceive ‘The Greeks Are Back’ initiative as a kind of panacea, where fifty Greeks from abroad are coming to Greece with magic solutions and proposals in their luggage. However, I must share with you that the proposals put forward by last year’s participants have reached where they should have reached.

In fact, thanks to our cooperation with the excellent research organisation DiaNEOsis, we will try this year to analyse what happened to some of the proposals. With obvious exaggeration, I would tell you that, even if only one of the proposals were adopted, we could say that the goal was achieved. And because attracting foreign investment to Greece will remain a critical and timely goal for the development of the Greek economy for several years to come, we will continue, for our part, to contribute to this public debate through initiatives such as ‘The Greeks Are Back.’

What changes will this year’s conference bring?

At this year’s conference we will have, firstly, a mix of participants from the first conference and participants who will be with us for the first time. These officials have already submitted their proposals, which, with the help of the coordinators of the Working Groups, will be further elaborated on the day of the conference at special meetings, to be presented later to the plenary of the conference by the coordinators.

These proposals will be commented on by the head of the Prime Minister’s Economic Office, Alex Patelis.

Prior to this, there will be a discussion on the topic: ‘Has the image of Greece changed in your company’s opinion after 2021?’

Do you feel your proposals are being taken on board?

As you know, I was also abroad for some years working as a Greek executive of a multinational company in Brussels and Paris.

Wherever I went, I remember at any important business event, I met, or more precisely, I saw Greek names on the lists of participants and especially high-ranking executives in large companies. That is why I had the idea, with the support of a large group of Greek executives, to establish the ARGO – Hellenic Network in Brussels in which Greek executives of the private sector participated at the time.

This initiative was the “talk of the town” and evolved into the meeting point of Greek private sector executives in Brussels, through the organisation of large events with the participation of distinguished Greeks, politicians, intellectuals and businessmen who came from Greece to listen and share with us.

This success with ARGO in Brussels led to the creation of ARGO – Hellenic Network in Paris and ARGO – Awards for Greeks Abroad.

In the spirit of these initiatives, ‘The Greeks Are Back’ is included and I must tell you that we are very pleased with the attention and interest of important political officials and bodies towards the proposals of these executives.

Andreas Yannopoulos.

For this reason, as last year, we will have the support and active participation of Enterprise Greece and the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs, while the Ministers of Finance and Development and Investment will be with us this year, as well as the President of the Hellenic Federation of Enterprises.

The economic environment today resembles quicksand. In this unstable international environment, Greece may become a hub for foreign investment.

I will not tell you anything new since the news of recent weeks showed that 2021 has been a landmark year for Greece, with a record number of foreign investment, thanks to a series of important reforms implemented in recent years and the particularly pro-investment climate that now dominates the country. The issue of attracting foreign investment in Greece is the core of discussion at ‘The Greeks Are Back.’

Concluding this short interview, we asked Yannopoulos to tell us about the topics of this year’s conference.

The executives who will participate in this year’s conference have already submitted their proposals for the following Six Working Groups: Sustainable Development and Circular Economy, Recovery Fund, New Economy, Efficient State, Real Estate and Health.

These proposals will be included in the initiative on foreign investments in Greece – 2022, which will be sent to the government, the political parties and other bodies.

*The Greek Herald is a media sponsor for ‘The Greeks Are Back’ conference.

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