PM Mitsotakis said that 2 million Greeks will be vaccinated against the coronavirus by the end of March in a television interview on ANT1 with journalist Nikos Hatzinikolaou on Tuesday evening.
During the wide-ranging interview the Prime Minister spoke about the pandemic, national issues and the economy.
Regarding the criticism he and his administration have faced as to the management of the second wave of the pandemic, Mitsotakis was dismissive.
“In no case did we defy the possibility of a second wave,” he replied. “Hence, we prepared during the summer and autumn. For all countries, the second wave was more violent. Greece has done better than other European countries. The pandemic is receding and official data show this.”
The Greek leader went on, saying “The truth is that the Commission never suggested to us that Thessaloniki close before October 26th. We were consistent based on what we knew, although there were individual views that do not always coincide with the Commission’s final decision. Everything that was humanly possible was done to support the hospitals and their staff.
Mitsotakis characterized as “completely unarmed” the criticism he often hears, pointing out that nevertheless the national effort to stop the spread of the coronavirus should not be undermined. This is the real picture of Europe today, he said, showing a map of cases in all countries.
When the interviewer compared the horrific fire in Mati in 2018 with the events of the past year, Mitsotakis dismissed his critics. “Will we compare Mati with a global pandemic?” he asked. The Prime Minister replied “What we see in Greece is not opposition. It is a disappointment.”
Speaking of his pride in how his country and administration have risen to the challenge of the pandemic, Mitsotakis stated “Greece has adapted from the beginning and participated in Europe’s great effort to supply the vaccine. It was a success for Europe that we all bought the vaccine together,” he said.
“We have pre-purchased twice as many vaccines as we need,” he added. We have enough vaccines, and I want to reassure the people. The rate of inoculation is also gradually increasing, he assured his listeners.
Outlook for tourism in 2021
Mitsotakis declared that “by the end of March we will have about four million vaccines, and about 2,000,000 of our fellow citizens will have been vaccinated.
“Beginning in February, four large vaccination centers will be created in Athens and Thessaloniki that will be able to do mass vaccinations. I estimate that a significant part of the population will have been vaccinated by June,” he said.
PM Mitsotakis also expressed optimism that “it will be possible to safely welcome millions of visitors this summer.” He explained that “we are better prepared, we do better tracking, while the improvement of the NSS and the vaccination contribute.
“I am optimistic that we will be able to save this season and it will be much better than last year,” he said with certainty.
The Prime Minister explained that there is no correlation between the second wave of the pandemic, which occurred in early November, and tourism, since it did not occur in areas with high tourist traffic.
On purchasing vaccines outside the EU
“It would make sense to meet the needs of the next two months to do so”, he said. However, he added “In no case are we going to violate the European agreements.”
Mitsotakis stated that at the economic health of Europe in July was a leap forward, with the Recovery Fund very important in making this possible. This situation had not even seemed possible as of last March, he added. The Prime Minister also estimated that the operation of the European Recovery Fund will not be delayed.
“We are absolutely convinced of the correctness of the choices we have made,” he said.
Regarding the vaccination campaign in the country, Mitsotakis reiterated that it is the most complex exercise that the Greek public has undertaken for a very long time.
He added that that it is “very important” to convince our hesitant fellow citizens to be vaccinated. If there were widespread serious side effects we would know by now, because there have been millions of vaccinations, he explained. Vaccines are completely safe and effective, he added.
The economic consequences of the pandemic
Mitsotakis stressed that he knows how difficult the situation is in the economy and reiterated that the State was and will be standing next to both companies and employees.
He underscored that the State moved with speed and accuracy in combating the economic blows of the pandemic, without spending all the available money at the beginning but acting rather with strategy and planning.
Hard decisions made for the right reasons
“One of the reasons we make the effort is not only to save lives but also to be able to start economic activity again,” the PM said. “I am not the one who will tell the Commission what to decide. But click-away (curbside service) worked and we are at a better level today than on December 15. ”
Mitsotakis also added that by his own decision, he went beyond the recommendations of the experts by closing the markets for two weeks in early January, in order to prevent any untoward consequences from the relative relaxation of the holiday period.
And the citizens complied with this, the Prime Minister stressed. He also stated that the degree of deviation of citizens’ behavior from the recommendations of the experts is less than happened in other countries.
The Greek PM acknowledged that there had been a disagreement with the Church over the celebration of the Epiphany, but the problems were overcome and the Church complied, he added.
“We will stand by everyone”
In response to questions about the tourism industry and the cultural sector of the Greek economy, the Prime Minister replied “We will stand by everyone and everyone in need,” while stressing the importance of continuing to strengthen the cultural sector.
On the exploratory contacts with Turkey
Regarding the upcoming talks with Turkey, Mitsotakis said that the Greek government set up from the beginning a specific framework for the resumption of the so-called exploratory contacts.
Their ultimate object is the delimitation of the maritime zones, the Prime Minister added, while mentioning the importance of the country’s agreements with Egypt and Italy.
“If Turkey continues to challenge, it will have consequences,” he said, noting in detail what his government has done in terms of foreign policy, by building alliances and drawing up a clear strategy. “We guard our borders with respect for human life,” the PM said.
He also spoke about the “red lines” at the table of the Greek-Turkish dialogue and said he was optimistic that 2021 would be better than 2020.
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