The government has been fully consistent as regards its announcements so far and the package of measures announced on Saturday will be implemented in its entirety, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Sunday, at the start of the traditional press conference taking place at the 86th Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF).
“We can achieve high growth rates and support society. The measures we are taking are fully harmonized with the budget targets,” the prime minister said.
According to Mitsotakis, the high rates of growth create the fiscal space to support the economy and society at a difficult time, adding that “Greece will present the greatest and fastest reduction of debt as a percentage of GDP.”
Elections to be held with current electoral law
Replying to questions on a possible change in the electoral law in the upcoming elections, the prime minister admitted that this had been proposed but emphasized that the next elections will be held with the current electoral system, as voted into law.
“The rules of the game must be stable…it would be institutionally irresponsible to change the electoral law, slightly lowering the bar for a single-party majority,” he said, stressing that there was no question of changing the law unless main opposition SYRIZA-Progressive Alliance accepted that elections using simple proportional representation were a “bomb at the foundations of stability” and agreed to change the law together with the government.
“I have built relations of trust with the citizens. I am not prepared to undermine this relationship for absolutely any reason,” he added.
Mitsotakis on phone tapping affair: The necessary processes were mobilized swiftly
Replying to questions about the phone tapping revelations, Mitsotakis stressed that the relevant processes had been activated swiftly in response:
“With courage, I assumed the political responsibility, accepted resignations, we opened parliament a week earlier and set in motion the relevant parliamentary institutional procedures and the process of the examining committee has already begun,” he said, noting that a legislative act introducing additional fail-safes would soon be ratified.
“For a legal surveillance of a political figure additional filters are necessary. There was never any desire for a cover up. We will not pick apart our secret services. They are governed by rules, there is serious accountability,” the prime minister added, while accusing opposition PASOK leader Nikos Androulakis of attempting to “instrumentalize” the issue, pointing out that PASOK’s leader had the option to go to the intelligence service and get answers.
Mitsotakis said that it was “not normal” for political party leaders to be placed under surveillance, though noting that no one could be exempted as a matter of principle, adding that the specific surveillance had been legal and supported, adding: “I demanded greater political sensitivity, however. We must be clear under which circumstances the monitoring of a politician or journalist is permitted.”
Mitsotakis: Simple proportional representation a catastrophic system for the country
Asked whether he would attempt to collaborate with another party if New Democracy fails to win an outright majority in the upcoming elections or instead trigger another election, Mitsotakis expressed his objections to the system of simple proportional representation, calling it “catastrophic” for Greece.
“My estimate that we will be led to a second election arises from simple mathematics. Arithmetically, if we attempt to project the current poll figures, theoretically there is a possibility of forming a government without the top party. It would be a political monstrosity. For this reason, the first election is extremely important. It must be a step to strive for a single-party majority and to explain why a majority government … can lead the country with stability and security,” he said.
Mitsotakis: Greece will always strive to keep channels of communication open with Turkey
“I consider the recent statements of the Turkish president unacceptable,” Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said in Thessaloniki on Sunday in response to questions, while stressing that Greece will not follow the road of provocations but strive to keep channels of communication with Ankara open. He said that Turkey was distorting reality and that Greece will continue to give clear replies both at home and abroad.
Mitsotakis also criticized Turkey’s role with respect to Russia, noting that it was the only NATO member that had not imposed sanctions, creating concern in the U.S. and Europe over its stance.
He said that Greece had deplored the “neutral” role that NATO was striving to adopt toward Turkey, adding that it was his duty to not only make Greece secure by enhancing its deterrent capability but also by building firm alliances so that Turkey might understand that the path it was currently on leads nowhere.
Regarding the looming energy crisis and support of households, he said the government was examining incentives to promote energy saving but stressed that all households will get support, regardless of consumption, with subsidies for natural gas as well.
The prime minister said that Greece was awaiting for Europe’s decisions on energy and wanted a cap on natural gas prices, repeating that the instrumentalization of natural gas as a means of destabilization was a choice made by Russia.
Mitsotakis also expressed certainty that there were forces within Greece striving for political instability, accusing the opposition of trying to trigger early elections using simple proportional representation.
“This in itself is a destabilizing action because we risk finding ourselves with a caretaker government in the midst of a difficult conjunction with an aggressive neighbor, in a harsh winter, at a time when decisions must be made every day.” [AMNA]