ATHENS — In a statement strongly critical of the government and the prime minister for the handling of the pandemic, main opposition SYRIZA-Progressive Alliance leader Alexis Tsipras on Thursday said the prime minister lacked "both credibility and a plan". He urged Greeks to "get vaccinated and wear a mask" in order to "erect a wall against the threat of the pandemic," while calling on them to reject the "division" that he said was being cultivated by the government.
"Instead of uniting society against the common enemy, [the government is] investing in division and separating the citizens into vaccinated and unvaccinated," Tsipras said. He accused the government of being less focused on dealing with the pandemic than on shunting the blame onto the citizens and attacking the opposition.
Despite the fact that Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis had, for the second time this year, celebrated the end of the pandemic and said that the country was in the final stretch before freedom, "the truth is that we are once again heading down the highway of fear," Tsipras noted.
"During these critical moments we have a government that lacks both credibility and a plan," he said, accusing the government of rebuffing the main opposition's support and proposals in favour of "PR stunts, sunsets in Santorini, false hopes and exploitation of the pandemic as an opportunity for anti-social measures and direct contracts to friends and cronies."
According to Tsipras, these failings included:
Financial support for pro-government media instead of hospitals, while the government was now preparing to shut down regional hospitals in the midst of the pandemic.
Blaming the public, handing out fines and allowing cases to enter the country instead of setting up serious testing or track and trace systems, while failing to buy more buses and trains to reduce crowding on public transport.
Sending contradictory messages that undermining faith in vaccination with the "childish" handling of the administration of the AstraZeneca vaccine and by linking the vaccine with the "vulgar 150 euros in pocket-money for young people".
Urging citizens to take off masks instead of taking steps against the Delta variant and then "taking it back" as a "misunderstanding" once the damage was done.
Unfortunately, Tsipras said, the prime minister appeared not to be equal to the management of such a serious health crisis and could no longer convince the citizens, "chiefly because he is the prime minister that divides society at a time when the country needs unity."
"Our country needs seriousness and a plan, however…I appeal to all citizens to reject the division. To get vaccinated and wear masks. I know that many still have doubts about the vaccines but the threat of the pandemic is once again knocking at our door, at the doors of our parents and our children. And we must all together raise a wall against it," Tsipras said.
"Our unity and solidarity is the most decisive and essential weapon for life to prevail," the main opposition leader added.