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Politics

Tsipras: Government’s Response to Pandemic “Chaotic and Nonsensical”

February 5, 2021

ATHENS — In strongly-worded criticism of the government on Friday, main opposition SYRIZA-Progressive Alliance leader Alexis Tsipras accused it of having a "chaotic and nonsensical" response to the pandemic and of "insisting on mistaken European initiatives" with respect to suspending patents for vaccines to speed up production.

Speaking to a meeting of the party's Political Council, convened to approve the proposed positions for the party's programme debate, Tsipras said the "accordeon policy" of opening and closing the economy was a "recipe for failure" on both the health and economic fronts, while the EU's "submission to the interests of a few companies" over vaccines was a "moral issue".

According to party sources, Tsipras said the government has failed on a series of key issues, including the need for mass free testing to set up track and trace, and "doing absolutely nothing" about major sources for spreading the virus, such as public transport, schools and work places.

"Every time the damage is done, the government announces measures after the fact that in some cases seem absolutely bizarre," he added, while noting that the lack of testing meant that there was not an accurate picture of the virus' spread in the community.

"This creates a sense that the management of the pandemic by the government is chaotic and nonsensical," Tsipras said, cataloguing a series of government failures on the healthcare front, among them "not providing support for experimental treatment programmes" and not "promptly identifying those requiring hospitalisation."

The main opposition leader also strongly criticised the European Commission's record on vaccinations, especially on suspending patents to speed up production, which he described as a "major moral and political issue," where all of Europe was taking a back seat to the profits of a few companies.

"It has little significance who and where produces the vaccines, whether in the West or the East, provided they are effective and sufficient for all the population," he noted, saying that Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis was backing "mistaken choices" by refusing to support the call to suspend patents that has been adopted by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Council of Europe, as well as an increasing number of voices in Europe, insisting instead on a vaccination certificate that has been opposed by both the WHO and the CoE.

Regarding SYRIZA, he said the combined recession and pandemic made it essential for the party to move even faster and organise a broad open dialogue with all creative and progressive forces in Greek society, "proceeding with courage and a plan to the social opening of the alternative proposal for the country's course." Tsipras said the party must contribute to society's struggle against the pandemic but also be ready for the political developments that are coming "as the country cannot continue on the path of the bankrupt political choices of Mr. Mitsotakis."

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