Greece’s new premier Kyriakos Mitsotakis

Mon, 8 Jul 2019 18:33 GMT
Greece’s New Democracy (ND) party leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis has been sworn in as new prime minister of the country after winning the snap general elections held on Sunday. Securing 40% of the votes and bagging 158 seats in the 300-member Greek parliament...
Greece’s new premier Kyriakos Mitsotakis

Greece’s New Democracy (ND) party leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis has been sworn in as new prime minister of the country after winning the snap general elections held on Sunday.

Securing 40% of the votes and bagging 158 seats in the 300-member Greek parliament, the ND party defeated incumbent Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’s left-wing Syriza party in a landslide victory.

The snap elections had become necessary after Tsipras had requested the dissolution of parliament following the ruling party’s poor performance in the European Union elections held last May.

Tsipras had promised to form an anti-bailout government but disappointed many of his supporters by imposing more austerity measures and extra taxes. He had served as premier since 2015. His tenure was marked by economic difficulties, and the controversial name agreement with Greece’s neighbor North Macedonia.

In 2015, his party stormed to power, after Greece buckled under painful economic reforms and austerity measures, forcing it to sign a package to receive €260 billion ($291.87 billion) rescue funds from the Eurozone partners and the International Monetary Fund.


Born in bureaucratic family

Mitsotakis, 51, was born in a bureaucratic family in Athens. He is the son of a former Prime Minister Constantine Mitsotakis, who is one of the country's longest-serving politicians.

His sister Dora Bakoyannis is a former minister and Athens' first female mayor. Kyriakos was the brother-in-law of Pavlov Bakoyannis, who was assassinated by a terrorist group in 1989.

Athens' current Mayor Costas Bakoyannis is Mitsotakis’s nephew.

Mitsotakis is married to Mareva Grabowski, who is the co-founder of a luxury clothing label, and has three children.

Although he tried to distance himself from his family ties with Greece’s leading political dynasty, Kyriakos has been widely criticized that these connections have paved the way for him to join politics.

In response to the criticism, he insisted: "Judge me by my CV, not by my name."

Earning his bachelor’s degree at Harvard University in social sciences, he got a master’s degree at Stanford University in International Relations. He also did his MBA at Harvard Business School.

He can speak Greek, English, French, and German.

Before going into politics, he was a McKinsey consultant.


Political life

Since 2016, Kyriakos has been the president of the ND party, which was once headed by his father.

Speaking after the election win at the party headquarters, Mitsotakis said he had promised to decrease the taxes and create new jobs. He said this will be achieved by working together.

"I know the difficulties but I derive my power from the people," he said.

Mitsotakis had pledged to cut taxes, to privatize services and create new jobs. He also traveled all around Greece during political campaign in two years.

Tsipras, in a news conference, conceded defeat and said he greeted Mitsotakis in a phone call for winning the election.

Tsipras said they will be a "strong main opposition" and will work to come to power again.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan became the first foreign leader to congratulate Kyriakos over phone.

Father Constantine Mitsotakis and relations with Turkey

At the time of Kyriakos' birth, his father Constantine was arrested by Greek military junta after having been declared “persona non grata” in 1967.

The Mitsotakis family managed to escape to Turkey with the help of former Turkish Foreign Minister Ihsan Sabri Caglayangil when Kyriakos was just one year old.

Then the family lived in exile in Paris until they could return to Greece in 1974, following the restoration of democracy.

Constantine, the then opposition leader, harshly criticized the Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) government for the country’s ties with PKK terrorist organization.

However, when Constantine Mitsotakis came to power in 1990, it was hoped that Greece's policy on relations with the PKK terrorist group would change, but no such thing happened.

Abdullah Ocalan, head terrorist of PKK, was arrested under the Greek protection in the Kenyan capital Nairobi in 1999.

Constantine also discriminated against the Greek Turks in Western Thrace.

“There are no Greek Turks in Western Thrace, there are Greek Muslims,” Constantine Mitsotakis said in 1990.

Greece had closed several associations in Western Thrace because they had the word "Turkish" in their names.

Although the European Court of Human Rights gave verdicts against Greece regarding the issue, Athens never implemented the verdicts.

Western Thrace region of Greece is home to a Muslim Turkish minority of around 150,000 people.

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