Greece Tells EU Chief to Prevent Further Vaccine Delays
(Bloomberg) -- Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis strongly urged the European Union to ensure there are no more delays to vaccine supplies.
“We need to move forward to make sure that as new vaccines are approved, this approval will happen very very quickly and that we will not run behind other countries,” Mitsotakis said in an interview with Bloomberg Television.
EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen faced criticism last month for the slow pace of the vaccine rollout after AstraZeneca Plc delayed shipments to the EU. That was something that Mitsotakis signaled should be taken on board.
“We have the capacity to administer many more vaccines than we are currently administering and we have the infrastructure in place,” he said. “It’s simply a question of getting our hands on the vaccines and this is at the end of the day a European decision.”
Greece won praise for its handling of the coronavirus pandemic in March last year but since the summer it has seen cases rise again. Its battered tourism industry is economically vital and accounts for more than a quarter of jobs.
Mitsotakis nudged fellow European leaders to establish a common vaccination certificate to encourage visitors this summer. This document will allow those have been vaccinated to travel without needing to be tested for Covid-19 or stay in few days quarantine. “I see a lot of EU member states having an interest to explore this idea further,” Mitsotakis said.
Though the idea hasn’t been rejected, there are concerns that with current vaccination delays such an initiative can’t be implemented.
The prime minister, in his interview, also addressed the issue of Greece debt. The country received a series of international bailouts since the financial crisis more than a decade ago and it’s on track to pay them: “We will repay 3.3 billion euros early out of 5.1 billion that we have borrowed from the IMF.”
In November 2019, Greece made an early repayment to the International Monetary Fund of 2.7 billion euros. The move helped the country take advantage of record-low rates to meet targets early.
“We want to be very consistent in our signals we send to the markets,” Mitsotakis said. “So repaying the IMF loan early, we have made that commitment and we’re going to make sure we stick to our word.”
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