Are there fast and slow ministers? A “hidden” message with multiple interpretations seems to have been included in the Prime Minister’s speech on Sunday in the Greek parliament. In addition to presenting the government track record for the 2.5-year term, Kyriakos Mitsotakis may be preparing to send messages to some members of the government – and most likely to representatives of social structures – igniting the scenarios for changes.

Changes of ministers who score unsatisfactorily or who do not move at the same speed, according to the prime minister. Something that also emerged in the recent mismanagement of the severe weather phenomena.

The prime minister from the floor of Parliament after referring to Lenin (who said that there are years when absolutely nothing happens and there are weeks that are actually years) and defended the government work then answered in the negative to the question he asked: “Are we satisfied? I answer immediately in the negative.” And he continued: But not because we are in the wrong direction or because we do not have speed, but because we do not all have the speed we need. According to the Prime Minister, those who do not have the same speed can reasonably conclude the following: how are the recipients of this message. And this address does not only concern the members who belong to the narrow government but also those who represent bodies and structures. The cacophony in the management of the current bad weather phenomena, moreover, not only hurt the image of the government in the society but at the same time disturbed the internal “blue” waters causing grievances.

The answer to all this image of paralysis was given by the Prime Minister in Parliament, who indirectly but clearly announced changes. “So what does this negative experience leave behind?” he wondered and continued “the need for better coordination between the central state and local government. He said that there is a need for more systematic and faster involvement of the Armed Forces in the management of such crises, the crystallization of strict rules in the operation of concessionaires who manage key infrastructure. And, as he said, the best formation of crisis management committees, with all the co-chairs in the same area, who will follow and act on the basis of gathering real information but mainly, Chief Ministers, on the basis of predetermined procedures.

Renewal in depth by 2023

Of course these moves – especially for the members of the government – are not foreseen in the immediate future since the script sees such changes after the spring. Especially now that the government has received the confidence of Parliament on the occasion of SYRIZA’s motion of censure. Any changes in structures and persons are therefore placed towards the summer and so it is considered reasonable for the prime minister to carry out a government facelift so that the government is ready for next year’s double election. In this context, Kyriakos Mitsotakis has a long road ahead of him and the focus is on the implementation of his design until the polls of 2023, with the main axis being the economy, the daily life of the citizen, the lightening of the burdens, and the turn on the social agenda. It is estimated within the government that after the spring the potential of the economy will begin to be realized and as the pandemic subsides the work of the government will not be overshadowed by the negative climate of the health crisis.

From the floor of Parliament, the Prime Minister characteristically stressed that Lenin, who you like so much (an aside to SYRIZA) said that there are years when absolutely nothing happens and there are weeks that fit years. The Prime Minister is obviously trying to show that his government is “connected” to the health crisis. He stressed that these weeks last for almost two years in our government. “We do not mumble, nor do we worry. Taking responsibility is for difficult times and we can say that we tried and managed to get through so far with the least possible losses through all these storms”, Mr. Mitsotakis underlined. Defending the government’s whole tenure, he said that these huge external challenges may have been difficult, but they did not change the country’s progress. He reminded that today Greece is diplomatically and defensively stronger than ever, with the economy and society standing up to the coronavirus, with education and health being upgraded, with the state being digitized, with taxes being reduced and with weaker citizens being protected.

And then he picked up the “red cards”: Are we satisfied? I answer in the negative immediately. But not because we are in the wrong direction, nor because we do not have speed, but because we do not all have the speed we need. And this also applies to the problems we encountered in the last snowstorm, especially in Attica. Problems that need to be learned from.

Messages for Civil Protection and Upgrading

The government is launching changes in civil protection and the infrastructure upgrade will be done with the help of resources from the Recovery Fund. In this context, large investments have been made in Civil Protection, such as the Aigis program amounting to 1.7 billion euros, of which 408 million euros from “Greece 2.0”. It was approved in June 2020 during the pandemic and it takes two to three years to complete it.

As Deputy Minister of Finance Theodoros Skylakakis stated from the floor of Parliament during the debate on government censure, “we received a very weak mechanism, with zero investment and that when we had the floods in Mandra, the Civil Protection was still communicating by fax. That is in 2017, that is, it was still in the 80s. In fact, as Mr. Skylakakis argued, we started from scratch or, to be precise, from below zero if we also consider what happened in Mati”.

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