ATHENS — There has to be at least a minimal level of national understanding and unity at this time since the top priority – beyond any political or ideological differences – is to protect human lives, President of the Hellenic Republic Katerina Sakellaropoulou said on Friday while receiving main opposition SYRIZA-Progressive Alliance leader Alexis Tsipras at the presidential mansion.
According to Sakellaropoulou, "what is important at this time is for the vaccination programme to proceed in the best possible way, to vaccinate as many of our fellow citizens as soon as possible, especially the most vulnerable."
She noted that the pandemic was an unprecedented situation that was a challenge for every person, "those that manage it, primarily the government but also the entire political system, and the citizens, of course." She acknowledged the fatigue with the restrictions, while stressing that these were essential and must be observed as this was the only way to get through this ordeal.
Sakellaropoulou pointed out that the challenge was also unprecedented on a global scale while, looking at other countries, there appeared to be no "straight path" for dealing with the pandemic. "Of course, every loss of human life is unique, it is not just a number, it has its own unique importance. It would be good to remember, however, that in comparison with other countries, Greece has done relatively well so far," she added.
The president said she wanted to hear the main opposition leader's proposals on the opening of schools and the international dialogue on this issue.
Tsipras also expressed his wish to discuss his thoughts and concerns over the protection of freedoms, rights and democracy with the president.
"I am aware that you also agree with the need for us to all protect rights and democracy and especially that the essential restrictions do not become a habit for all of us …despite the necessary restrictions, the institutions must function, the accountability of power – which is a fundamental ingredient of democracy – must be present, the parliamentary processes and we must all strive in this direction," he said.