ATHENS – New Democracy Alternate Interior Minister Stelios Petsas government minister apologized for telling Greeks who can’t switch from more expensive natural gas to other fields that “whoever doesn’t adjust, dies.”
The callous remark came as Greece was readying to enter a pre-campaign extended phase for mid-2023 elections after Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis spoke at the Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF)
With the major rival SYRIZA trying to claim it’s the party of the downtrodden despite hammering the country’s most vulnerable with harsh austerity during its 4 ½ year reign, it was a field day for critics who say New Democracy is elitist.
In comments made to a TV panel discussion on home heating and the energy crisis that has seen electric bill doubles and the government pouring billions into fuel and utility subsidies, Petsas’ remark set off a storm on social media.
In a prerecorded message, Petsas, who was government spokesperson from 2019 to 2021, described the remarks as “unfortunate,” without explaining what could have possibly triggered him to say it.
He also apologized to his government colleagues for the comments distracting from Mitsotakis’ keynote address at TIF where he announced 5.5 billion euros ($5.49 billion) in handouts, including fuel aid, but little for natural gas users.