ATHENS — Government spokesperson Christos Tarantilis started his press briefing on Thursday with the inauguration of the new US President Joe Biden and the prospects for "a further deepening of bilateral relations between the two friendly peoples, as well as ensuring peace and stability in our region." He also announced that the priority of the government for the next period – as the prime minister stressed on Wednesday in Parliament – is the opening of high schools and lyceums.
Tarantilis then referred to what Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said in Parliament regarding Biden being "an experienced politician who knows a lot about our region and our sensitivities."
He added that "he is also a leader who moves with prudence but also with self-confidence, but aboveall with steadfast and non-negotiable values."
The government spokesperson went on to talk about the expansion of Greece's territorial waters in the Ionian, stressing that Wednesday was a historic day.
Regarding the pandemic and vaccination developments, the government spokesperson said: "It is clear that we are going through a critical period, during which the defence against the virus continues along with the counterattack through the vaccination programme."
In addition, Tarantilis noted that "as of yesterday, 65 health centres and 144 new vaccination points have been added to the mechanism."
He referred to the upcoming European Council, saying that "the issues of the pandemic and vaccination will be discussed this afternoon in a teleconference of the 27 EU leaders. During this, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis – as he has already stated – will raise three issues:
"First: He will outline the proposal already presented to the Austrian Chancellor and the Prime Minister of Denmark to speed up the bureaucratic approval of vaccines developed by AstraZeneca and other companies.
"Secondly: He will suggest the activation of the Commission to put pressure on Pfizer, in order to accelerate its production and, in addition, to be fully consistent in the delivery of the doses, as it has promised to all European countries, within the first quarter of 2021.
"And thirdly, he will outline his proposal for the introduction of a European vaccination certificate in order to exempt the European citizens who have been vaccinated both from the obligation to test before each trip and from the mandatory quarantine in the states they arrive in, to reduce the relevant bureaucratic procedures and facilitate movement from state to state."
Referring to migration, Tarantilis said: "The government is seeking an agreement within the EU for a new Migration and Asylum Pact. At the same time, it continues to pursue a new, stricter but fairer migration policy, with respect for international law and European values."
"We can already say – based on the data for 2020 – that the goals set by the government have been achieved," he added.