Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ doorstep statement before the start of the European Council meeting in Brussels

Today we will have the opportunity to thoroughly discuss the issues that are at the top of the European agenda, starting with the pandemic.

Obviously there is acute concern over the spread of the Omicron variant, which is going to surface in all European countries sooner or later. This is why it is absolutely imperative to further accelerate vaccination programs, focusing even more on booster shots, as scientists suggest that this is the best line of defense we currently have in our arsenal.

We will also have the chance to discuss issues that pertain to the European energy market. All European countries harbor acute concerns over natural gas price hikes. We discussed this during a previous European Council meeting as well. We will call on the European Commission to examine all options that will enable potential interventions at the European level, to curb the increases in natural gas prices.

In any case, the Greek government will continue to act in advance -as it has already done- in order to limit to the greatest possible extent the increases in the cost of electricity and natural gas. We will also pay special attention to our farmers. I shall have the opportunity to talk more about all this on Saturday, during the parliamentary budget debate.

We will also talk about the external dimension of migration. Greece will insist on the need to deal in a uniform manner with cases where there is instrumentalization of the refugee issue. Our country was at the epicenter of such a crisis in March 2020. This is why we fully support the Baltic states and Poland, who are now facing a similar situation.

Lastly, we will discuss issues that concern our strategic compass, meaning the way in which we perceive European strategic autonomy in decision-making, for Europe to be able to defend its own interests and align its economic clout with its geopolitical capabilities.

Journalist: Prime Minister, Omicron is causing great concern; do we have to expect new measures, such as PCR testing, in addition to vaccinations?

Kyriakos Mitsotakis: In Greece, we were one of the first European countries to open up booster shots to the entire population and we are very happy with how the programme is progressing.

If we need to take additional measures regarding additional testing, I think they only need to be applied for the Christmas period in order for us to gain additional time to boost as many people as possible.

It’s a battle against time. But every week that we gain before Omicron really hits us is a gain because we will be able to have a higher percentage of population that will be boosted.

Thank you.