ATHENS – Greece had overcome economic and social stagnation when the coronavirus pandemic hit it early in 2020, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Thursday, and it was then called upon to manage several open fronts at the same time.
In his New Year's message, Mitsotakis cited the sharp rise of migration inflows, the repercussions of the pandemic on health and the economy, and the challenges on national issues. But "Greece remained standing before all these," he said, defending its borders successfully, protecting and relieving the islands, guarding its territorial rights, and supporting everyone's life and income. "At the turn of the year, therefore, we have all we need to transform the experience of 2020 into strength for 2021," he stressed.
Referring to the "different way of celebrating" holidays this year, he stressed the importance of observing the health measures still. "It is time to maturely cross the bridge between the end of the war against the coronavirus and the start of the battle for progress – but this is a bridge with underlying traps," he cautioned, "and we must cross it slowly and surely." Restriction measures will be lifted gradually as confidence returns, with a priority of reopening schools, the premier said.
"The vaccine against Covid-19 is the New Year's gift of 2021, and our gift in return should be to accept it fully, as self-protection and solidarity toward our dear ones," Mitsotakis underlined.
Mitsotakis said 2021 will be a busy year, "closing old wounds and opening new horizons," and he also referred to the upcoming anniversaries of Greek Independence (200th) and the European experience (40th). The New Year, he said, "inaugurates a new ten-year period of prosperity," where there will be "development for all with dynamism, extroversion and respect for the natural environment."
Drawing on the power of unity as Greeks, the country survived the pandemic, the economy, and defense challenges, and this unity will lead the country toward great goals, he noted. "We also know now how crisis can become opportunity: the new National Health System shows us, the digital state does, the strong Armed Forces also. None of these was self-evident," Mitsotakis stressed, "but now they have become experiences that propel the country forward."
It is "up to us to make 2021 the Year of the Greeks, the link between the victories of our ancenstors with those of their descendants," he said, and to welcome the New Year with optimism and confidence.