Anyone who watched the speech of Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, during the July European Parliament plenary session, would be forgiven for thinking that Greece had found some kind of magic solution to the current global crisis we are all facing. When you hear him speak about “growth” and “overcoming the crisis,” you could mistakenly consider Greece a sunny European paradise where we all dream of moving, as the country seems problem-free.
Just wait a minute before packing your stuff. Because Mitsotakis’s Greece on paper is not the same as the one lived by Greeks in their everyday lives. Let’s take it step by step and look at some inconvenient truths.
Cost of living
Prime Minister Mitsotakis spoke about a “high level of progress” and economic growth. For sure, we are not reading the same statistics. Greece’s annual inflation rate jumped to almost 12% this year, based on Eurostat reports, reaching a 29-year record for the country. The country is now second last in the EU in terms of purchasing power, with the second most expensive petrol price.
The facts don’t lie.
From cost of living & inflation to press freedom, from rule of law to refugee rights, @kmitsotakis & his government are failing people in 🇬🇷.@papadimoulis deconstructed the Greek Prime Minister's narrative that all is going fine.#ThisisEurope #EPlenary pic.twitter.com/SCPST7xwVY
— The Left in the European Parliament (@Left_EU) July 6, 2022
While Mr Mitsotakis implied he was on top of the unemployment problem, Greece has, in fact, the second-highest unemployment rate within the EU, according to Eurostat. Youth unemployment, which drives brain drain, is still a problem for the country.
Democracy and media freedom
Mr Mitsotakis stated that “the quality of our democracy has improved.” However, democracy in Greece is under threat, as it is the lowest-ranked EU country for media freedom, according to the World Press Freedom Index.
“We have been successful in protecting the borders,” claimed Mr Mitsotakis during the debate. “Greece had stood as a guardian of Europe, when at our Eastern borders there were constant threats of invasion of tens of thousands of illegal migrants,” he said, mentioning how Greek authorities managed the situation in the Evros river area.
However, ″success″ can’t be defined by illegal pushbacks, as constantly reported by the media. The UN also slammed Greece, and called for an end to “deplorable” migrant pushbacks. Furthermore, a recent joint investigation by the Guardian, Lighthouse Reports, Le Monde, Der Spiegel and ARD has revealed that Greek police are forcing migrants to push back other fellow migrants in the region of Evros. Following these constant reports, EU Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson warned Greece that “violent and illegal” migrant pushbacks must end now.
MEP Dimitrios Papadimoulis (Syriza, Greece), Vice-President of the European Parliament, commented on the Prime Minister’s speech: “Mr. Mitsotakis avoided answering the questions from the Left, Renew and the Greens on the illegal pushbacks of refugees, despite multiple complaints by international press and NGOs. The complaints must be fully investigated, as Parliament’s LIBE Committee and Commissioner Johansson are calling for. The rule of law and human rights are non-negotiable.”
MEP Konstantinos Arvanitis (Syriza, Greece) adds: “When it comes to migration, as well as matters of Rule of Law and freedom of the press, the Greek Prime Minister remained obstinately attached to his unconvincing rhetoric, insisting on the wholesale labelling of the horrid allegations, that come as results of numerous journalistic as well as institutional investigations, as Turkish propaganda, yet again disparaging bodies such as the RSF in the process. Entrapped in pre-electoral turns of speech and short of allies among the political groups – except for his own extended political family of the EPP, and the far-right ID – he even attempted to turn the issue on its head, speaking of “push-forwards,” even neglecting to answer when the allegation of refugees/migrants being forced to push other migrants back was brought up directly. Fundamental rights are inalienable and respect for them is a founding principle of the EU. Mr Mitsotakis’ remarks in the European Parliament debate, unfortunately, showed no intention of seriously tackling this grave situation.”