At the renown three-day Munich Security Conference (MSC) which started today, Greece’s Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis kicked off the first panel “Currency for Change: World Politics on a Budget” by highlighting the need for world leaders to shift their mindset in order to confront the current international security challenges.

In what was called an opening “Townhall” moderated by the Economist’s Editor in Chief Zanny Minton Beddoes, the Prime Minister said that leaders need a “growth mindset,” and must be open to new approaches, such as in the realm of defense spending.

He noted that there is a need to reframe the way we think about defense spending because the nature of warfare is changing. And in the case of Greece, the government needs to include new, cheaper methods and weapons.

Responding to a question from the audience about the perceived lack of will of governments to reduce spending on the military and instead put it towards peace and the sustainable development goals, the Prime Minister urged cautioned.

He explained that it is easy to think of things naively, but “after a short while you will find yourself in a compromised position.”

Elaborating further, the Prime Minister said that just a few years ago the idea of a war on the continent was inconceivable because we all thought that Europe had left the “darkness behind it”, but reality has been a shock and wake-up call.

As for now, he said, the mindset in Europe is “if you want peace, prepare for war”.

The agenda for the 60th Munich Security Conference, held from February 16-18, 2024, includes more than 50 leaders, 60 foreign and defense ministers, heads of international organizations and hundreds of security academic and business representatives.