Mitsotakis: Neither reshuffle nor elections – Reforms is our priority
The Prime Minister put an end to the scenarios of early elections or reshuffle in the interview he gave to Star channel and the journalist Mara Zaharea. Mr. 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 Prime Minister revealed that from now on, as we move on to the next phase, Professor Sotiris Tsiodras will remain one of his closest collaborators and he announced “new NHS” based on the experience from the pandemic.
However, when asked about the Evros incident with Turkey, Mr. Mitsotakis stressed that nothing serious has taken place in the area and emphasized that the fence in the area will be built immediately.
The Prime Minister spoke of “national success” in tackling the coronation 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,” said Mr. Mitsotakis, adding that “social distances have come to stay.”
Explaining his decision to open primary schools, Mr. Mitsotakis said he followed the opinion of experts and not the polls. “If I were to go to the polls, I wouldn’t have to open primary schools. But I think it would be wrong if I did”, he said.
I have an obligation to children and their parents to get their children back to school, said the Prime Minister, stressing that the experience from High Schools showed that everything went well.
Children have changed their habits and this is a legacy when the flu returns, for example, or from the fall if the coronavirus returns.
Since January, we have been following the coronavirus epidemic in China, Mr 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 Mr. 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.
Kyriakos 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.
Asked to comment on estimates of rising unemployment, the Prime Minister declined to make any predictions, but said much would depend on how tourism went.
2020 is an exceptional fiscal year, due to the emergency measures. We have already started the tax cuts and there will be another package. The first priority is to reduce employer contributions, which “I believe we will be able to announce soon, after the summer”.
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”.
Regarding the issue of Evros, the Prime Minister stressed that Greece’s land borders with Turkey are completely defined. The Evros riverbed, however, is moving, creating “technical issues” that concern precise demarcation.
“I do not think that anything significant has happened and that this whole discussion, which took place mainly on social media, which the opposition hastened to take advantage of, is wrong in my view, because in fact it has adopted a more extreme right-wing rhetoric. 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.
Mr. 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 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”, said Mr. Mitsotakis.
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