An Exclusive Conversation with Greek PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis

Europe in particular is struggling to find a united approach to combat COVID-19, and one of the countries most in need is Greece — the EU member nation that was hardest hit by both the 2008 economic crisis and the 2015 migrant crisis. In an exclusive interview, Christiane speaks exclusively with Greece’s Prime Minister about how his country is coping.

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CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR: You’re under lockdown, you have been for the better part of the week. What is the trend there now?

KYRIAKOS MITSOTAKIS, GREEK PRIME MINISTER: Well, first of all, Christiane, thank you for having me on your show. I think the trend is relatively encouraging compared to other European countries but we obviously know that the hard work is still ahead of us. What we did which I think was relatively successful was to implement strict social distancing measures relatively early, and it seems to have worked. We have had almost full cooperation by the Greek people and like to thank them for the fact that they have respected our directions and have actually stayed home with very, very few exceptions. And it is very, very clear to me, I’m not an epidemiologist or an expert but it is very clear to me that if you take social distancing measures relatively early, you can actually flatten the curve. We have had 50 people tragically losing their lives in Greece from COVID-19. But our health care system is coping relatively well. And I should point out this is a health — public health care system battered after 10 years of austerity. So, we were painfully aware of the fact that we were at bigger risk compared to other European countries, seeing our health care system being overwhelmed. This has not happened up to now and we hope it’s not going to happen.

AMANPOUR: I mean, those are incredible statistics to be able to tell the world and it’s really interesting to hear that because as we have said and as you have just said, you were one of the worst hit countries over the last, you know, 10-plus years, 12 years since the 2008 financial crisis. Can I just quickly ask you, are you at home? Are you at your office? How are you running the government at distance?

MITSOTAKIS: I’m at my office with, you know, a tight team of my closest collaborators. We work out of the office and we — of course, you know, we are running the country by using, you know, a video conferences and getting in touch with the people we need to talk to by using technology. And I can tell you one thing which has struck me, is how quickly the Greek State has actually moved towards its digital future. We have implemented new platforms, new applications. Have gone people online at a much, much faster pace. So, in a sense this crisis has also been an opportunity, if I may use that term, for the Greek State to sort of embrace the digital era at a much quicker pace. So, so far, we have had only one member of parliament who’s tested positive to COVID-19. He was in the hospital. He is now out of the hospital and no members of parliament yet. So, that’s, at least, allows us to remain in a properly functioning mode.

About This Episode EXPAND

In an exclusive interview, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis tells Christiane Amanpour how his country is coping with the COVID-19 pandemic. General Terrence O’Shaughnessy discusses the need for a better coordinated national response in the U.S. Sara Goldrick-Rab tells Hari Sreenivasan how the crisis is affecting low-income students. Plus, will.i.am discusses his new single “Sing for Life.”