During an interview on STAR TV on Monday, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis drew attention to Greece’s Covid-19 success story, stated there is “no border dispute” with Turkey and rejected the idea of early elections.
Mitsotakis estimated that the recession in the country as a result of the health crisis will range between 5-10%, while as he said it is his belief that we will not have an absolute disaster in tourism.
At the same time, the PM revealed that from now on, as we move on to the next phase, Greece’s Health Ministry spokesperson and infectious diseases expert Professor Sotiris Tsiodras, will remain one of his closest collaborators.
However, when asked about the Evros incident with Turkey, Mitsotakis stressed that nothing serious has taken place in the area and emphasised that the fence in the area will be built immediately.
He also dismissed recent reports in British tabloids that Turkish troops have “invaded and occupied” a patch of Greek land in the northeastern Evros border area.
“I believe nothing remarkable happened” in Evros, he said, adding that there are “technical issues” between the two countries that will be resolved at a technical level.
“You know very well that Greece’s borders with Turkey, the land borders, are absolutely determined by the Treaty of Lausanne and the protocols of 1926 that followed. You also know that the riverbed of Evros is moving. But the border line does not move. It is the same. What was the result of these movements of the bed of Evros? That there are current sections east of Evros which are Greek lands, as there are sections west of Evros which are Turkish, because the bed of Evros has moved. These are technical issues”, he said.
Mitsotakis highlighted that the Greek government took “immediate decisions” when the border crisis broke. “We are not going to accept a policy of mass inflows. Protecting our borders and European borders is an acqui,” he said.
In the same interview, the Prime Minister spoke of “national success” in tackling the coronavirus pandemic. “We have left the difficulties behind,” he added, but warned that the danger was not over.
“Let’s go to a reasonable relaxation of the measures,” he said, adding, that “social distances have come to stay.”
Speaking about the reopening of primary schools on June 1 (which had shut down with all schools on March 16), he said it was a necessary step, as “six months, from March to September is a very long time for primary school children to be away from school.”
The younger children will be the last to return to school, following the lead of graduating high school students on May 11 and grades 7-11 on May 18.
Since January, we have been following the coronavirus epidemic in China, Mitsotakis said, revealing that he hesitated “for one day” about the lockdown.
“I have no doubt that if it had happened two weeks later, we would have mourned many more victims”, he said, adding that “there is the satisfaction that it was worth it, lives were saved from this case.”
“The second wave, if it comes, will be different”, explained Mitsotakis, because the citizens are much more educated, because the health system is more prepared and because the state will be able to intervene in a “smarter” way, if for example we need to do a new lockdown.
The Prime Minister said that gradually “we will build a new health system, a NESY” and stressed that it has been proven how big a legacy the National Health System is.
At the same time, during this period, “we have secured the borders of Greece, protected the borders of Europe and sent a clear message for the protection of the borders and the migration flows”.
What we have regained so far, as the Prime Minister pointed out, is confidence. “For the first time, we did not hear: ‘Where is the state?’” he said.
This image of Greece, as a safe country with a good health system, the image of reliable Greece, opens opportunities, he stressed.
Mitsotakis did not want to make predictions about the size of the recession, due to the coronavirus, but expressed “a moderate optimism”.
He also noted that “many billions” will come from Europe to support the economy, which will be added to the government’s €24 billion package.
The government’s reform program is valid in full, he stressed. “We were elected to make reforms and we have started to make reforms.” These will continue and possibly faster. “We may need to make some adjustments, but our reform mood remains intact and strengthened.”
Mitsotakis was also asked about the possibility of elections and replied: “Why and for what reason? Because we are leading the polls? Society trusts us because it believes that I am not a tactician. I received a 4-year mandate”, he said, describing the discussion as “completely irresponsible”.
His response to the possibility of a reshuffle was similar. “I don’t that is happening either. The government has found its footing and is working well”.
“We have 158 members of parliament. A great acceptance in society. We are more politically strong today than we were on July 7 when I won the election. We haven’t even completed one year in office, yet. We are a 10-month government and there is talk of early elections? This discussion is completely irresponsible. I don’t see any reason to reform at the moment”, Mitsotakis concluded.