ATHENS – The problems caused by the ‘Elpis’ snowstorm were the first topic touched upon in a meeting between Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and President of the Hellenic Republic Katerina Sakellaropoulou on Friday.
“What I want to stress is that the effort to build a resilient and effective state is constant and a non-negotiable priority for this government. There will be setbacks and there will be mistakes that we must always courageously recognise, chiefly so that we can learn from our mistakes and constantly become better,” the prime minister said.
At the same time, he defended the work done in civil protection in the 30 months of his government, saying it had laid the foundations in terms of processes, equipment and training for Greece to be prepared for unexpected phenomena.
Replying, President Sakellaropoulou noted that the “fires in the summer and the recent bad weather have taught us that the country must as soon as possible acquire or rather establish a modern and effective system of crisis management. Crises that, as science now accepts are linked to climate change and are unfortunately expected to show an increasing trend in the future.”
She noted that this model must be in a position to provide citizens with safety and protection, both in terms of prevention and in mitigating the impact of the expected repercussions of such crises, as well as when such phenomena occur.
“I realise that there are many things that need to be done but they are absolutely essential,” she added, while noting that it was equally important for citizens to cooperate with state and local government mechanisms in dealing with the problems. The president also said that congratulations and thanks were due to the personnel that responded to assist citizens in difficulty, while she stressed the work done by volunteers for vulnerable groups, such as the homeless.
Mitsotakis also thanked the personnel of state mechanisms, the armed forces and volunteers that assisted in the response to the ‘Elpis’ snowstorm, adding that the important thing was to learn from our mistakes.
“I wish to stress that with regard to restoring power we moved much more quickly than we had in response to ‘Medea’ because we realised then that there were weaknesses in our planning and because we had made sure that a great many more crews were mobilised to deal with a problem that arises during every major snowstorm [as a result of fallen trees],” he said. There were 200,000 households without power on Monday night and electricity was restored much faster than for last year’s “Medea” snowstorm, he added.
The prime minister explained that emphasis had been given to keeping the Athens-Lamia highway open, where problems had occurred before, but the problems had unfortunately also arisen on Attiki Odos “for reasons that I think have been explained”.
JPMorgan investment a vote of confidence in the Greek economy’s prospects
The prime minister also spoke about the JPMorgan & Chase investment in a Greek business, briefing the president on his meeting with the bank’s President and CEO Jamie Dimon on Thursday.
“[JPMorgan] has decided to make a very significant and very large investment in our country, which I believe signals this bank’s active vote of confidence in the prospects of the Greek economy,” Mitsotakis said. The decision to invest in the Greek company “shows the dynamism that today exists in this ecosystem of Greek startup companies,” he noted, expressing hope that other Greek startups will see a similar outcome.
The prime minister acknowledged the problems that exist, such as the high prices, inflationary pressures and price hikes in energy, noting that the government was obliged to ensure that the growth which occurred benefited all Greeks and that “no one will be left behind”.
“For this reason, the government will remain fully consistent in its policy of supporting the available income of all citizens in order to deal more effectively with this wave of price hikes, which we hope will be temporary but which no one can predict with absolute accuracy when it will end,” he added, saying this would be achieved by reducing taxes, which was a core government policy, and by raising wages.
“I want to repeat the government’s commitment that on May 1, earlier than we had planned, it will proceed with a not insignificant, much larger, increase of the minimum wage in relation to that we have already implemented since January 1,” he said.
He ended by again expressing confidence in the medium and long-term prospects of the Greek economy, as reflected in the decisions of major foreign investors to invest in Greece.