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Politics

Peloni: Greece Has Transformed Turkey’s Provocative Behaviour into an EU Issue

ATHENS — Provocative statements by Turkish officials "do not help to establish a good climate in bilateral relations," government spokesperson Aristotelia Peloni commented on Wednesday during an appearance on the morning news programme "Atairiastoi" on Skai television, while advising that their importance must not be blown out of proportion.

"It is the [side] that does not have right on [its] side that increases tension," she noted, adding that the government has succeeded in making Turkey's provocative behaviour in the Eastern Mediterranean and Cyprus into an issue of EU-Turkish relations.

"This is a success and a conquest that clearly rankles," she added.

Asked whether there might be a meeting between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, she said that channels of communication remain open, especially when tensions run high, but that – as Mitsotakis has said – such meetings should not be news.

On vaccinations, Peloni confirmed that Greece will today exceed 100,000 vaccines per day and that this rate will be sustained going forward, with additional vaccination centres added, and with vaccinations now open to the most productive age groups, between 30 and 49.

"These are the groups that move about, who have responded extremely positively. I would, therefore, say to those who are older to follow the example of younger groups who are making haste to get vaccinated and build a wall of immunity that will get us to freedom," she said.

She advised those hesitating to get the vaccine to look at the numbers in hospitals, where 95 pct of those in ICUs have not had the vaccine. "The vaccine is a gift…it is the only shield against the virus and, of course, the tool and path that will bring us to freedom and a normality that is different and clearly better than that of last summer," she added.

On the abolition of SMS messages for leaving home, Peloni said the government had given a road map leading up to May 15 and that it was not something under examination at present, pointing out that the epidemiological picture was stabilising but numbers remained high.

On travel between regional units, also, she emphasised that "we will not be done with the measures until a very large percentage of the population is vaccinated." She stressed the need for continued caution and the wearing of masks, saying the virus was ready to strike if people became complacent.

"Provided there is no upsurge, we have said that tourism will open on May 15 and that includes inter-regional travel obviously, for both Greeks and tourists."

Questioned about the government's draft labour law bill, she said many things had been distorted, such as claims that it abolished the eight-hour day "which obviously is not the case."

She accused main opposition SYRIZA-Progressive Alliance of adopting a position on a bill that had not even been unveiled for public consultation yet, while it will include progressive reforms that will reflect the real needs of workers in the 21st century, especially in the private sector.

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