He said that the government opted for “drastic measures” to prevent the public health system from becoming overwhelmed.
“We were alarmed by the rise of hospitalizations in Attica,” he said. “This epidemic has a tendency to spiral out of control very fast. I preferred to take drastic measures so that we can put them behind us faster.”
Mitsotakis stressed that Greece cannot just see the “light at the end of the tunnel, but the end of the tunnel itself.”
The lockdown “will allow us to emerge from this ordeal that much sooner,” he added.
When asked about the state of the economy which has taken a hit during the pandemic, the Greek PM says he is “very confident” about the country’s liquidity, noting that “there is no issue of asking for a new bailout.”
He also announced that 500,000 people are expected to be vaccinated by the weekend and 1,700,000 by the end of March.
With the vaccination program on track, he expressed his optimism that around Easter Greece ” will reach the end of this adventure.”
“We can have tourism from Israel from April. As vaccinations progress, it will be easier. Tourism will be at better levels from 2020.”
He admitted that there were “big delays” in the delivery of vaccines to member-states but added that it “would have been illegal” for Greece to order vaccines in bilateral deals. “The damage would have outweighed the benefits,” he said.
Over the weekend, Mitsotakis was spotted ‘breaking his own rules’ during his visit to the eastern Aegean island of Ikaria. He responded to the criticism by explaining that the visit was very brief and comprised of the same people that had travelled to the island with him.
“I accept that the image has hurt people and did not do justice to my intentions…it will not be repeated,” he said.
On the topic of Turkey, he clarified that Greece is not discussing the demilitarisation of its eastern Aegean islands or what Ankara calls “grey zones” in the Aegean.
“We know how to defend our rights. We have shown in practice that we can make mutually beneficial agreements based on international law. At the same time, we have already proved that we are either defending our borders in Evros or strengthening our deterrent capability, without asking and getting permission from anyone,” he continued.