Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said Greece has emerged from the first phase of its brush with the coronavirus pandemic “stronger” than it was before, despite the economic downturn triggered by lockdown measures.
“We proved, as a country and as a state, that we can cope with tough exercises like the one with the coronavirus,” Mitsotakis told Skai radio on Tuesday, a year after he was elected to power with his center-right New Democracy party.
The government will be judged by its effectiveness in dealing with the fallout of the pandemic, Mitsotakis said, adding that absorbing the shocks of the economic crisis triggered by restrictions will be the greatest challenge lying ahead.
“The economy was doing very well before the coronavirus,” Mitsotakis said, indicating that he does not foresee the need for another nationwide lockdown emerging in the months to come. “The cost is too great for the economy to cope,” he warned, saying that his government’s strategy is to continue imposing localized lockdowns in the event of a flareup of infections.
Commenting on continued health restrictions, Mitsotakis indicated that while some like limits on the number of people sitting at restaurant tables may be eased, it is important to stay the course. “We can still have a very nice summer, avoiding activities that could potentially create a public health hazard,” he said.
The prime minister conceded that July promises to be a difficult month in terms of tourism, but was optimistic in that Greece “is projecting the image of a serious country” and has so far dealt with incoming cases “professionally and successfully.”
On Greek-Turkish relations, the prime minister said that his recent telephone conversation with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan should not come as a surprise. “We may still have our differences, but this does not mean that we cannot communicate,” Mitsotakis said.
The prime minister also dismissed speculation about the possibility of calling early elections in the autumn, saying that his government plans to see out its four-year term. He also sought to douse rumors concerning an impending cabinet reshuffle, saying that “when there is something to say, I will be the one to say it.”