Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has urged the European Union to ensure that there are no more delays in supplying vaccines.
“We need to move forward to make sure that with the approval of the new vaccines, that approval will happen very quickly and that we will not run behind other countries,” Mitsotakis said in an interview with Bloomberg Television.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen was criticized last month for the slow pace of vaccine launches after AstraZeneca Plc has delayed deliveries to the EU. That was something Mitsotakis said should be considered.
“We have the capacity to administer many more vaccines than we currently administer and we have the infrastructure in place,” he said. “It’s simply a matter of getting our hands on vaccines and this is a European decision at the end of the day.”
Greece won praise for treating the coronavirus pandemic in March last year, but since the summer it has seen cases rise again. Its tourism industry is very economical and accounts for more than a quarter of jobs.
Mitsotakis urged fellow European leaders to establish a joint vaccination certificate to encourage visitors this summer. This document will allow those who have been vaccinated to travel without having to be tested for Covid-19 or stay in quarantine for a few days. “I see a lot of EU Member States that are interested in exploring this idea further,” Mitsotakis said.
What are vaccine passports and how would they work ?: QuickTake
Although the idea has not been rejected, there are concerns that, given the current vaccination delays, such an initiative cannot be implemented.
In his interview, the prime minister also addressed the issue of Greece’s debt. The country has received a number of international bailouts from the financial crisis more than a decade ago and is about to pay them: “We will repay 3.3 billion euros out of the 5.1 billion we borrowed from the IMF ”.
In November 2019, Greece made an early repayment to the International Monetary Fund of 2.7 billion euros. This move has helped the country take advantage of record low rates to achieve its goals sooner.
“We want to be very consistent in the signals we send to the markets,” Mitsotakis said. “So, by repaying the IMF loan earlier, we have made that commitment and we will make sure we keep our word.”
– With the assistance of Paul Tugwell, Nikos Chrysoloras and Zoe Schneeweiss
(IMF early repayment updates from the ninth paragraph.)