THESSALONIKI – The safe comeback of tourism flows in Greece and economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic were the focal point of Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis' Tuesday interview in the German newspaper Bild.
Describing the restart of tourism in Greece with all health safety considerations in mind and the fact that the country has kept Covid-19 infections and fatalities at a minimum, he said that "we intend to open tourist activities to the countries that have similar epidemiological data to those of Greece," such as Germany, with its low pandemic dispersal rates. German tourists, he added, are welcome to Athens as of June 15 and to the islands as of July 1 – the date when direct flights to these are reintroduced.
To make visitors and tourists feel safe when in Greece, Mitsotakis said they will face spot checking at the airport and have access to basic instructions and the location of the nearest health facility via an electronic application (mobile app). "We will also make sure that sufficient diagnostic tests are found at all the islands, even small islands, if someone needs to be tested," while it will also be possible for a visitor to be transported to an Athens hospital, if needed, he said.
Concerning the range of services tourists will find in Greece post-pandemic, he let it be known that health authorities have not yet decided when to have nightclubs, bars and discos reopen, but, he added, "the basic experience will be the same, with some extra precautions: going to the beach and eating out at a nice taverna or restaurant."
Solidarity among EU member states is key to recovering from the economic implications of the coronavirus pandemic, he noted, and added that the proposal by French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel for the creation of a European Recovery Fund "lays the groundwork for something important, and I am confident that an agreement will be reached at the next Summit."
On Turkish promotion of refugees and migrants to Greece through the borders at Evros, Mitsotakis said that "we have made it crystal clear that Greece will protect its national border, which happens to be Europe's border too. Speaking of EU solidarity to Greece on the border incidents recently, the premier said nevertheless that "we have to cooperate with Turkey on the migration crisis, as it currently hosts 4 million refugees and does indeed deserve European aid for that, a point I have put across to President Erdogan from the very start."
But, he observed, "this is something that cannot be achieved by means of political blackmail," and what is needed is sincere talk on how Europe may help Turkey, Mitsotakis concluded.