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My speech on One Young World Summit

In Press releases on October 12, 2013 at 9:19 pm

My speech on One Young World Summit

Για να διαβάσετε τον λόγο μου στα ελληνικά πατήστε εδώ:


Before starting, I would like due to some incidents with fascism and a political party to say to all the Greeks watching and all the people around the world stay united. This is the only way to defeat fascism.
One Young World, Καλησπέρα.
I come from Greece, THE country of the economic crisis. Riots, Molotov cocktails against the parliament, unemployment, corruption, I know. But recently, working in the European Parliament in Brussels, I saw something changing within the Greek mentality and the Greek politics. Efforts towards a national sovereignty. Efforts to pay back every single euro we owe, so that our presence within the EU will be again of significance. So let me through the eyes of a young Greek, introduce you to the real Greek situation. In three steps.
Number one: The state.
The way our state operates needs to be improved. Our debts need to be paid back. A practical way to achieve this is by changing the structure of our tax collection. We need transparency on how every single Greek, from a pensioner to the Prime Minister, earns his income. Αν online database for Greeks to declare their income might not sound exciting, but is vital. Tax evasion is responsible for the 1/5 of the Greek debt right now. Imagine our debts starting being sustainable and Greece to reach an economic growth just by changing the tax collection procedure. The brilliant thing in this procedure is that includes everyone. Even our high ranked state employees and our politicians. However, corruption is like an hourglass, starts from the top and as time passes reaches the base. Up until now you will hear people saying: The elite of our country doesn’t pay taxes, why should we? This feeling has changed drastically among my generation. We are fed up of this system. We don’t deny our obligations and we want to pay what needs to be paid. At this critical point of our history, we need politicians ready to lead, ready to give up some of their own comforts existing in the current tax system in order to realize transparency. This should become through our politicians a new national identity. This leads to
Number two: Leadership and Governance
I will start with an example. I come from Thessaloniki the second biggest city in Greece. The subway of Thessaloniki started being created in 1989. Still today under construction. Not because of slow implementation or lack of resources but because of slow political will. Fluid politics and lack of consistency in policy lines bring new reforms every four years with every new government elected. But this online tax database should be used no matter who governs the country. Political leaders must be able to see above party affiliations and beyond electoral campaigns to the common public good. The transformation of society needs to start with them. I don’t of course deny any responsibility, we voted for them, including me. But they need and can be the role models we look up to.
And this brings us to Number three: Civil society
This is how the idea of “The actiVests” was born. An action group with vision to reform society and redefine democracy. Our first important fight is the one against corruption. We are conducting a survey on tax evasion, the social groups excluded of tax payment and we advise on improvements. However, this economic crisis has a moral dimension as well. For that, we initiate a series of 3 round table talks in Thessaloniki. We will livestream them and promote them through social media so that they reach as many people as possible and like that we can expand the impact. We are gathering the political elite with representatives of the prefecture of central Macedonia, the Macedonia and Thrace ministry, consulates and civil society’s representatives. In the end of every debate we will pose questions to the political elite derived from our twitter account. This way, we will raise awareness on the importance of eliminating tax evasion, include everyone realizing democracy at its core but also try to create together a formula with which families struck by unemployment are helped.
Just three things. Good governance, a robust civil society and a responsible state. These are the three indispensable pillars to Greece’s recovery. And Greece will again marry its great history with a bright future. If my country can achieve it so can yours.
So read, question, take a deep breath and have the courage to stand up and make some positive change. Remember that we make the countries, not vice versa.

The speech reached through livestreaming 35.000 all around the world and 1500 live at the One Young World Summit, that was attended by Mr. Kofi Annan, Ms Arianna Huffington, Sir Richard Branson, Sir Bob Geldof and Prof. Mohamed Yunus.