Kyriakos Mitsotakis: A great historical step in the bill on non-state universities

The passage of the bill establishing non-state universities dominates the weekly review of the government work done by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis through Facebook. Kyriakos Mitsotakis mentions a major historical step referring to the establishment of non-state universities, noting that “we take those initiatives that strengthen the country against the many and complex challenges of our time”. He also mentions the flood shielding of Thessaly, the question of accuracy, the extension of the institution of the personal doctor and the night of the award of the Oscars. In detail the Prime Minister’s post Good morning to everyone! Today, the first and most important news of the Sunday review can be none other than the further upgrading of the public university and institutionalization of the establishment of non-state-non-profit universities and in our country, the last in the western world to consider knowledge as a state monopoly. I have often spoken about the “revolutionary self-evident” that Greece needs. Of course, it must be made so that our country becomes freer and more European, so that we can converge more with the European core in all areas, so that citizens have more choices, corresponding to the choices and rights that European citizens have. A great – historical – step in this direction are the arrangements passed Friday by Parliament, putting an end to an anachronism that life itself had overcome. When “everything changes down here with momentum” to borrow an old verse by Dionysis Savvopoulos, when educational reality and knowledge economy worldwide changes rapidly, we cannot as a country and as a society remain still. I think the context of this iconic reform within and outside Parliament has been extensively analysed and it is regrettable that political forces – whether to appear to be oppositioning or for ideologies – have closed their ears and eyes to what the vast majority of citizens are asking for. So be it. We will continue to look forward and take those initiatives that strengthen the country against the many and complex challenges of our time, interventions that fit into a liberal democracy and bring significant benefits to society. Just think of our thousands of young people who are leaving abroad and the very large sums that Greek families are spending today to study their children outside the border. These children could remain in the country and contribute to the national economy. Official foreign AEIs have already expressed interest in establishing branches in Greece and many Diaspora teachers wish to come either through foreign institutions or to cooperate with public universities. Because I will emphasise again, our priority is the public university, its support in every way – proof and the transformation of the Democritus University into a metropolitan. And that is what we are doing with the passed legislation, so that it has even greater flexibility, even more enhanced its own government, with additional funding through many different financial instruments, so that it can expand partnerships with leading international institutions and innovative Greek businesses. Proof of what can result from such cooperation is the recent deal of €1.15 billion (!) to acquire Greek origin BETA CAE Systems International AG, founded 30 years ago by a team of teachers and students of the AUTH, by the California-based Cadence Design Systems, one of the largest software manufacturers to design computer chips in the world. In May 2020 I had the opportunity to see in person BETA CAE’s Research and Development Centre in Kato Schoolari Thessaloniki and I was truly impressed. The object of the company made it one of the world’s leaders businesses in the development of simulation and analysis software for automotive companies and jet engines. It is not the only Greek success story. Our country has taken very important steps in attracting multinational giants, as a centre of research and extroversion. This means new opportunities, better pay and more attractive future for young people. That is why the number of valuable Greek minds and hands that are being repatriated is constantly increasing. According to Eurostat data – as the Finance Minister said a few days ago – some 350,000 of the 600,000 Greeks and Greek women who left abroad in 2010-2021 have returned to Greece. This development fills us with joy and optimism, but we will continue the effort to attract as many as possible of the 250,000 who have not yet returned. Let me now come to the other issues of the weekly review and I will start with the Master Plan for the restoration and floodproof of Thessaly that the Dutch company HVA has prepared and presented to us, with a 100-year know-how and international experience of major disasters. To give you an idea, the plan includes the guidelines on which infrastructure, irrigation – from the major problems of the region, the protection of cities and communities from heavy flooding, weather data processing and early warning systems, crisis management protocols – should be organised. Proposals shall be accompanied by timetables and costing. The plan delivered is not definitive. It is in public consultation next week to study it by the ministries involved and, of course, the Thessalians themselves doing where they need their observations and then we will qualify for the best solutions so that without delay – within the next few months – we can proceed to the required projects. I will stand by one of the key recommendations of the report: a strong and much more effective model of administration is needed both for the construction of infrastructure and for water management that exceeds the limits of individual services, one or more Municipalities even of one District. Fragmentation creates problems and was seen in the September disaster. This is why we are establishing in March the Water Management Agency of Thessaly in which representatives of the government and farmers participate, so that we can all organize the vital infrastructure of the region on new bases with scientific knowledge and the systematic use of new technologies. The holistic plan for Thessaly to be implemented must become an estate of society. I will continue with the matter of accuracy. According to ELSTAT, general inflation fell to 2.9% in February from 3.1% in January. Inflation in food also declined to 6.7% in February from 8.3% in January, but remains unrestrained. That is why we are also creating this year the “Card of Lent” – the decision was already signed by the Minister of Development – and will be available from next Thursday. It will concern three categories of food traditionally consumed these days and will be available at the lowest prices possible. It is essentially an extension of the “Housewell” that still exists and includes 56 categories of products with reduced prices. I know we haven’t won the battle with accuracy yet, we hear the world, but I assure you we will not deposit the weapons, we will continue to intervene in price formation and controls to hit the dirty profit. I am going through the important news about the reform of Primary Health Care, namely the extension of the institution of the personal doctor. In collaboration with the Panhellenic Medical Association, we add private doctors and pathologists to the system of the personal physician, at the level of the municipality, so that each citizen can choose as a personal doctor his own doctor near the place where he lives and works. At the same time, we create – for the first time in Greece – 7 University Health Centers with telemedicine training stations to support the Personal Doctors and not only. In addition, we announce 1,375 posts for staffing Primary Health Care structures and University Health Centers. And we don’t stop here, as we continue the largest upgrade of the FCH infrastructure since the start of the NSO, with the renovation of 156 Health Centers, the upgrading of medical equipment, the creation of 312 chronic diseases clinics in the PHY, but also the expansion of Telemedicine. We focus on Prevention, so that every citizen has access to free, high-quality health services and identify in time health problems, meaning better quality of life, lengthening of life time and reducing the economic burden on the health system. The NIS and its upgrade is our high priority, but we also consider it valuable to assist private donors. A recent major offer from the couple Athanasios and Marina Martinou, the construction of the first University Cancer Center in Athens, 1,200 sqm, in “Attikon”. Thank you. The Centre is expected to surrender within April and is estimated to start operating from September. Now, last Sunday, I didn’t write you about the new Ministry of Finance law on beaches, because we had a lot to say – and it doesn’t always fit, no matter how big the review is! However, various inaccuracies were written and heard, even for alleged beach busts. That is why I will tell you what this legislation does and does NOT do. From this summer we ensure free access to all beaches for all citizens. No beach will be allowed to grant more than 50% of its area. So the other half should be free and in the concession section umbrella seats can occupy between 30 and 60%. A total of 70 to 85% of a beach must be free. The use of new technologies is envisaged for both auctions and controls, stricter fines and penalties for those who violate the public space of the sea and the beach. It is stated that umbrella seats must be at least 4 meters away from the sea and for the first time we create the “simple beaches”, i.e. beaches of particular environmental value which we protect and prohibit any economic exploitation. The law does not regulate the construction, does not allow the construction from the coastline – from where the wave bursts – as some environmental organizations falsely claimed, none of the applicable provisions on the terms of construction and which are regulated by the sealine rather than by the width of the beach. With a phrase, we put order on our beautiful shores so we can all enjoy them. In addition, since summer means an anti-pyrotic period which starts on May 1st, I go to preparation and continues to be done by the Ministry of Climate Crisis and Civil Protection. In this context, a unit of EMODE with 40 forestcomados is added to the island of Chios that will strengthen the Fire Department by helping to deal with forest fires from which this beautiful island of mastic has suffered. I would also like to mention the unprecedented success of the sale of 27% of Piraeus Bank’s shares to foreign and Greek investors for a record amount of 1.3 billion euros that entered the state funds. Not only for the huge interest gathered, but above all for the price of disposal of shares at levels higher before the start of the procedure! Evolution extremely rarely worldwide because there is usually a discount in favour of buyers. I recall the very difficult position in which Piraeus Bank was located in 2019 and where it arrived today. The correctness of the government’s options for reassigning the banking system that is now almost complete is thus underlined, not only for the way and time that the divestment of the State went on – it also deserves a govt to the administration of the Financial Stability Fund – but also more generally the banking system that turns a page. Now that we have strong banks again, the supervisory role of the State and the Bank of Greece must be further intensified in order to step up efforts for more competition, lower commissions, faster credit expansion in certain categories of borrowers, modernisation of systems, improvement of customer service, and integration of European banking integration. There is still much to be done. I close with tonight’s big night of the Oscar award which -sinefil and not – you know that they are also of Greek color. First it is George Lanthimos with the 11 nominations for his film Poor Things. Five Oscars are also claimed by Greek-born director Alexander Payne for his film The Holdovers. For us they are already winners, whatever the outcome. They raise Greece high with their work. Our wishes accompany them to win as many awards as possible because they really did a great job. Happy Sunday, everyone! “