Stressing the resilience of Greek society, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis says he is certain that Greece will overcome the current health crisis, insisting that its repercussions will be temporary.
In an exclusive interview with Kathimerini, the Greek premier acknowledged that there will be a recession in 2020 but predicted that growth next year will be greater than the contraction this year, while he also ruled out early elections.
“I know we will have a deep recession in 2020. But, provided that science gives us the answers we are waiting for, the recovery in 2021 will be greater than the 2020 recession,” he said.
Looking ahead, he stressed what Greece will take away from its handling of the crisis. “We passed brave emergency reforms. We created a digital state within weeks – and that’s a very important legacy. We have accomplished in days things that we had aimed to complete in 12 months and had been lagging in for years. And these things will be important weapons in the days to come,” he said.
Regarding predictions about the duration of the Covid-19 pandemic, he said that “this is something we cannot and should not say.”
“I believe that we will start getting a clearer picture by the end of the month so that we can start gradually relaxing the restrictions by May, barring any dramatic developments. But this relaxation will be done step by step, and, of course, will not apply to the elderly and to people with underlying conditions,” he noted, adding that “it’s almost certain that the coronavirus will return in the fall – and that’s on the assumption that we do see a decline in the summer due to rising temperatures.”
He also noted that the response to the crisis by health authorities helped him gain “a lot more confidence in the National Health System.” “I think that this crisis has brought out its potential but also its shortcomings.”
Questioned about Greece’s response to the new migration crisis with Turkey last month, Mitsotakis said it “proved that we can guard our borders, with absolute respect for human life.”
“The message has been understood by everyone, especially by Turkey, but also by the refugees and migrants who will now take more time considering whether it’s worth getting on a boat and trying to cross to an Aegean island,” he said.