Niki K. Kerameus is a lawyer and a politician; she’s also involved in social welfare on a pro bono basis.
35-year old Niki is a partner at Kerameus & Partners Law Firm in Athens, practicing mainly in international arbitration. She has significant experience in international arbitration matters, having worked in this field in three different jurisdictions (Athens-Greece, Paris-France, New York-U.S.A.).
Since January 2015, Niki also serves as a Member of the Hellenic Parliament (State Constituency). She has served as “Shadow Minister” for the Administrative Reform and E-Government Sector of New Democracy (ND), the major opposition party of Greece, from March 2015 until January 2016, and has just now been appointed as the third Parliamentary Representative of ND.
Niki is a founding member and until recently President of the Non-profit Foundation “Desmos”, which locates surplus from companies and individuals to cover needs of our most vulnerable citizens and social welfare organizations.
Finally, Niki is a mother-to-be, expecting her first child in 2 months!
Tell us a little about yourself
I grew up in a family that has always encouraged me to learn and to actively participate in civic life. After studying and working for several years abroad, in France and the United States, as a lawyer, I decided to return to Greece in order to apply, in my country’s benefit, all experiences acquired. About a year ago I got involved in politics when I accepted a highly honoring proposal from the former Prime Minister, Mr. Antonis Samaras, to be included in the State Constituency list of ND. One of the main reasons I decided to accept was because I strongly feel that our generation has to actively engage with society; that we should not simply criticize, but act when the opportunity arises; that we should all – to the extent possible – try to make the difference we would like to see materializing around us.
What were the major difficulties you’ve faced in the last five years?
Among the difficulties I have faced these past five years is striving to build a business practice in the midst of an unprecedented financial crisis. Such difficulties, though, seem immaterial when compared to the real difficulties faced by our most vulnerable citizens suffering on a daily basis from the repercussions of the crisis. As a founding member of “Desmos”, which aims at helping our most vulnerable citizens, I have come face to face with the most significant survival problems that an important segment of the Greek population has been facing for the past years.
Did anyone in particular inspire you or help you?
I have had the tremendous chance of being surrounded by a number of people who have both inspired me and helped me in my path so far. My parents, my brother, my mentor to the legal profession in New York, and most importantly my husband who has been a tremendous source of support and wisdom throughout the eight years we have been together.
What are your hopes/plans for the future?
What I hope for, and try to contribute towards, is to shape a better future for our children, in a fair, growing, opportunity-offering country.
What are your hopes for Greece? What changes do you hope to see happen?
I hope to see the country turn once again towards growth, productivity, towards regaining credibility abroad and creating new jobs.
Have you considered leaving? If so, where would you like to go, and why?
I lived and worked abroad for almost 10 years. My decision to return to Greece right when the financial crisis hit was carefully balanced. Although my professional prospects as a lawyer were definitely more promising abroad, I felt that we – the younger generation – had to at least try to return to Greece and assist our country in any way we can.
If you have already decided to leave what would make you stay?
If I was a young entrepreneur who had decided to start a career abroad, I would be tempted to stay if there was concrete hope for a better future in Greece. Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ election as Leader of the major opposition party, New Democracy, incarnates – in my opinion – the optimism that there are better days to come for our country, and could hopefully invert the Greek “brain drain”.
Are you actively doing anything to help with the situation? Is there something you would like to do?
Both in the past few years and in the present, I try to help in two different ways: (i) through my active engagement in politics and (ii) through my offering and volunteering to “Desmos”.
How do you see Greece in 5, 10 years?
Greece’s and its people’s potential is huge, and 5-10 years is quite a significant projection time for which I have only optimism. I see the current, catastrophic government dissociated from the political scene and new leadership driving the country. I see a reformed, more efficient, transparent public sector, where institutions can serve the benefit of all citizens, with impartiality and objectivity, offering a fertile environment for business and private initiative to grow and young people motivated to create and participate. I see older people equipped with dignity for themselves and hope for their children’s future.
How do you cope with obstacles and frustrations in your everyday life?
I cope with obstacles and frustrations with realism, patience, effort, persistence.
What are the positive sides of living in Greece? Have you had any good experiences lately?
There are definitely positive sides of living in Greece. Our friends, family, the climate, the beauty of our country, and most importantly the challenge to fix what needs to be fixed.
In less than 4 years, Desmos has offered goods worth almost 2 million euros to more than 300.000 vulnerable citizens of Greece.If you want to find out more about DESMOS, their site is here – or read a previous post on this blog: DESMOS: Matching donations to needs.