Tsipras criticises government handling of pandemic, Prespa Agreement delays

Greece’s main opposition leader, SYRIZA-Progressive Alliance President Alexis Tsipras, on Tuesday accused the prime minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, of “playing hide-and-seek” for the last six months with respect to the cooperation memorandums envisaged under the Prespa Agreement, after former premier Antonis Samaras openly stated his intention not to vote for them.

In an interview with Radio Thessaloniki, Tsipras said that this was damaging to both the prime minister and the country’s image, warning that as long as Greece was failing to implement the agreement, it was sending a signal to the other side to shirk its own commitments.

“When it comes to national issues, you have to look beyond minor political expediency,” he added, “and with a view to solving problems, not prolonging them.”

On relations with Turkey, Tsipras repeated SYRIZA’s position that there was current a “window of opportunity” that the government was failing to exploit, which was to link the start of the discussion on revising the EU-Turkey customs union with a resolution of any bilateral difference with Greece at the international court at The Hague.

With respect to the management of the pandemic, SYRIZA’s leader said the opposition party had adopted a “responsible stance” on the whole but was obliged to criticise the prime minister’s “divisive” rhetoric and a tactic of “wagging an accusing finger” at specific categories of citizens at the same time as “ignoring the measures himself”.

Tsipras also strongly disagreed with the measures announced by the prime minister on Monday, giving extra benefits to those that are vaccinated, noting that these will stoke “great tension” in society. “Only through social solidarity and unity, not division, can people be persuaded to get vaccinated,” he said, rejecting both coercion and the 150 euros vaccination ‘bonus’ for young people.

Among others, he blamed the government for undermining confidence in the scientists, by using them as a “scapegoat” for decisions made on a political level.