Latest outdoor, nonchalant appearance by Greek PM - amid stricter pandemic measures - generates firestorm of reactions

Sunday, 07 February 2021 20:42
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Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis' high-profile visit to the eastern Aegean island of Ikaria on Saturday generated a firestorm of reaction, especially on social media, after images emerged of the former and members of his delegation sitting for lunch with local officials on a residence's balconies.

The images showed most of the diners without face masks and seated next to each other, essentially flouting restrictions on public assembly imposed throughout the country due to the ongoing pandemic.

The incident was the second time that Mitsotakis has come up for criticism for an outdoor activity amid the Covid-19 pandemic, as he was photographed with his spouse in early December 2020 mountain biking in a forest north of Athens, and then happily posing with pictures with a group of motocross bikers - and without face masks.

In a first reaction on Sunday, a spokesman for main opposition SYRIZA party noted that " wonders what would have happened if yesterday's assembly (on Ikaria), with more than 40 people - as seen from a relevant video - had been a private meal with ordinary citizens."  

Other political parties also expressed sharp criticism of images from the unannounced banquet.

A government spokesman later attempted to downplay the incident, referring to criticism by SYRIZA that "lacks seriousness".

The spokesman, Christos Tarantilis, also referred to an "impromptu and brief meal" hosted by ruling New Democracy (ND) deputy, Christodoulos Stefanadis, who represents Samos and Ikaria.

Stefanadis is a medical professor specializing in cardiology.

Besides Ikaria, Mitsotakis also briefly visited the small islet of Fournoi and the even smaller Thymaina, ostensibly to inspect the ongoing vaccination campaign on the trio of islands.

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