Greek Health Minister visit to HKS attracts media attention


DSC_3692By Simon R. Bone

Greek Health Minister Adonis Georgiadis is not an easy to forget person. He attracts attention wherever he goes and his visit to Harvard Kennedy School on Feb 13-14 was not an exception. Right after his arrival in Boston and as a loyal user of the social media, Mr. Georgiadis posted some pictures on his twitter account which immediately drew the attention of the Greek media. In period when the changes in the Greek healthcare system have divided the nation and have been in the spotlight of the public debate in Greece, Mr. Georgiadis was criticized by some bloggers even for the timing of his US visit given the ongoing issues in his Ministry.

However, Mr. Georgiadis did not seem to be bothered by the criticism. He participated in two discussions organized by the European Club which has hosted several successful events in the past, including discussions with guests such as Jean Claude Trichet, Oli Rehn and Romano Pronti.

The Thursday’s afternoon discussion focused on the need for public sector reforms in Greece, a country which has been torn by an unprecedented multi-year recession and extremely high unemployment. On Friday morning, Mr. Georgiadis talked about the sociopolitical conditions in Greece and he took questions on the political risks from an increasingly radicalized Greek electorate. Mr. Georgiadis was engaging throughout the discussion and addressed all the issues in a straightforward way even those pertinent to his personal life.

During his short visit at Harvard Kennedy School, Mr. Georgiadis met also with several Harvard Professors; some of them have been following the Greek story very closely.  Moreover, Mr. Georgiadis was invited to a dinner on Thursday evening with Prof. Michael Ignatieff, the former leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, and Prof. Carmen Reinhart who has been worldwide known for her work on financial crises. Mr. Georgiadis laid out to them the agenda of the government and addressed questions about the implementation challenges and risks.

Prof. Reinhart, who has been a critic of the way the European debt crisis has been handled by the international organizations, has done extensive research on the negative implications of high debt levels for economic growth. Prof. Michael Ignatieff, who teaches the popular class on ‘Sovereignty and Intervention’ at Harvard Kennedy School, devoted a special session on Greece and the meaning of sovereignty in the context of the European Union in the week after the Minister’s visit.

Overall, it seems that Mr Georgiadis enjoyed very much his short stay in Boston. He flew back to Greece on Saturday and he was again in the spotlight of the Greek media on Monday because some public sector physicians had occupied several primary health care centers in Greece in order to protest against the changes introduced by the Ministry of Health. In relation to his treatment in Greece, it seems that the audience at Harvard Kennedy School was very kind to him. He will probably miss it!

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