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Greek PM Mitsotakis: Europe United Can Do a Great Deal More

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Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis. (Photo by Eurokinissi/ Dimitris Papamitsos)

ATHENS - "Yesterday's EU summit meeting was not equal to the occasion. Europe is up against the greatest crisis since World War II. I am not referring only to the unspeakable human tragedy where developed countries are forced to choose who will live and who will die. I am also speaking of the economic tragedy caused by the paralysis of economic activity," Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said in a post on his Facebook account on Friday.

On the economic front, the Greek prime minister added, "Europe united can do a great deal more."

He noted that each country was responsible for its citizens in matters of public health and took the measures that it considered most appropriate: "We did not hesitate to take difficult decisions to restrict movement, earlier than almost all the other European countries. Until now, we have been vindicated in our choice. But the measures must remain in force until we are certain that the difficult times are over."

Mitsotakis stressed that more funds will be needed so that people will not lose their jobs and to support businesses that have lost their earnings, in an environment where public revenues were collapsing. "Inevitably, Europe will have to borrow more in order to spend more," he said.

"With another eight of my colleagues, the day before yesterday we signed a letter asking that we consider a proposal for the issue of a special Eurobond to deal with this unprecedented crisis. The argument is simple: the coronavirus constitutes a symmetric shock for everyone. Therefore, it demands a common response that will allow the EU to borrow, cheaply, large sums on behalf of all the member-states," Mitsotakis said.

The Greek premier noted that there were no "good guys" or "bad guys" in the present crisis, no "responsible" and "irresponsible" countries and that, unlike in 2010, during the crisis in 2020 "we are all facing the same threat".

"Unfortunately, some countries insist on handling today with the tools of yesterday. These are not enough. The European Central Bank cannot do everything and the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) was not designed to cope with such unprecedented crises."

A discussion on a special-purpose EU "corona bond" would inevitably begin sooner or later, Mitsotakis added, but Europe had to make sure it did not end up lagging behind developments, when statements about community solidarity would sound hollow and meaningless, "whereas our inertia will offer ground to all kinds of enemies of the European idea."

The current ordeal could, instead, serve to breathe new life into the idea of Europe, the prime minister added, giving it a new momentum once the crisis was overcome.

"My words are not just the words of the prime minister of Greece, which withstood and defeated a 10-year economic ordeal. They are the thoughts of a citizen of Europe, who cares about its future. This is a time for mutual understanding, for joint action and immediate initiatives. A time of great responsibility focusing on people. Great crises also demand brave decisions. Let us take them!" Mitsotakis concluded.