Greek Government Spokesman Giannis Oikonomou issued a media brief outlining the government’s agenda on the transition of Western Macedonia away from lignite dependency to a more climate and environmentally friendly hub, the pandemic and finally the natural gas deal struck between Greece and Egypt.
The transition of Western Macedonia to a new development model
Despite the multiple external crises, the government is promoting its general plan for the progress of the country and our adaptation to the new era of climate change and the challenges of the 4th industrial revolution. In particular, it promotes the reforms and action plans that lead the country to a dynamic development, and the society, all Greek women and men, to a next day in security and prosperity.
In this context, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis held a wide-ranging meeting, last Friday, in Kozani with Ministers, representatives of local bodies and the local authorities, aiming at promoting the de-lignification plan and the fair transition of Western Macedonia to a new model. During the meeting that lasted more than 4 hours, Prime Minister underlined the decision of the government to proceed quickly and to use all the financial tools at our disposal, in order to attract new and dynamic investments in the region that will create thousands of new and better jobs, ensuring the sustainable development of Western Macedonia, in order to become model region in Europe.
The de-lignification plan that is already activated, is an emblematic reform that responds to the challenge of the climate crisis, protects the environment, improves the quality of life in lignite areas, creates thousands of new jobs. In order to implement this reform, a Fair Development Transition Plan has been prepared and one “package” of public and private investments more than 7 billion euros has been mobilized for the period 2021-2027. This plan will turn the region of Western Macedonia into an investment pole.
This transition has become more urgent for our country, for a number of reasons:-
-First, compared to other EU member states, our lignite deposits are poorer and more uneconomical.
-Second, several old polluting units of PPC. have exhausted their maximum operating hours and have retired from Greece’s energy system.
-Thirdly, the huge increase of the cost of the pollution exposure has made lignite power production expensive and unprofitable.
-Fourth, the lack of a transition plan of the dependent areas to the new era, has resulted in the continous rising of the unemployment in the region.
Through the preparation and the launching of the plan, Greece is the first EU Member State, which has a national strategic plan for a fair development transition. It is the first of all Member States to be eligible for support from the European Just Transition Mechanism. Greece will be the first Member State beneficiary of the Just Transition Fund, with a large difference in per capita aid. All this has been achieved through hard negotiations and it has been based on the perfect plan prepared and implemented by the greek government.
In the framework of the Fair Development Transition Plan, the Just Transition Development Plan 2021-2023 has been prepared – and is already being implemented – as an emergency plan, and it is set to benefit from resources up to 368.7 million euros. Furthermore, critical projects have already been auctioned, commissioned or are being constructed, with a specific target in the wider area.
Αbout the Pandemic
The government continues the multifaceted effort to stop the pandemic, in order to save human lives, to support the national Health System and to keep our economy, education and society open. The government is closely monitoring the domestic and international developments regarding the covid pandemic and continues to implement the dynamic strategy. It focuses on the strengthening of the National Health System, the implementation of the measures that have been already in force and the extension of the vaccination coverage both through the first and the third dose.
In the last 16 days we have had a 10% increase in our fellow citizens who choose to get the vaccine. Now 7.135.000 citizens over the age of 12 have been vaccinated.
In addition to the data of the hospitals, according to which the vast majority of those intubated in the ICU are unvaccinated, a recent study by the World Health Organization showed that in the period December 2020 – November 2021, more than 12 thousand deaths have been avoided thanks to vaccination in our country.
Regarding the new “Omicron” variant of the coronavirus, Omicron “, which has been identified in South African countries and it has coused concern around the world, at the recommendation of the competent committee, strict measures have been taken to limit and control the movements of citizens from the specific countries who intend to travel to Greece. Moreover, Greece has no direct flights from or to the specific countries.
Greece and Egypt in supply of natural gas
The continuous expansion of energy cooperation with Egypt has been of great importance for our country – for its development course, for the increasing of its geopolitical footprint and its repositioning on the world energy map. That strategy has been built on the meetings between Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Egyptian President in November 2020, since then very decisive and concrete steps have been taken.
Following the agreement for the electrical interconnection of Greece and Egypt signed last October, Environment and Energy Minister Kostas Skrekas and his counterpart signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Greece-Egypt strategic cooperation in the gas sector. The MoU has been designed to expand the bilateral cooperation between Greece and Egypt, the exploration, the development of natural gas fields and the possibility of the interconnection of the natural gas systems of the two countries, through the building of a submarine natural gas pipeline.
The relations of mutual and sincere cooperation, within the framework of international legitimacy, contribute to the prosperity and security of the people of the Mediterranean.