Russia's Sputnik vaccine puts Greek politicians in trouble
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis clashed in parliament with opposition leader former Prime Minister Alex Tsipra over the Sputnik V vaccine.
Tsipras calls on the government to follow the example of other EU member states and order Russian vaccines, even though they are outside the EU framework. But the Greek prime minister reacted negatively to Tsipras' suggestion by opposing any negotiations to buy vaccines that have not been produced in Europe. He also said that even if they wanted to, Russia does not have vaccines available already. But the Russian embassy in Greece reacted immediately by saying that Russia is ready to provide 500 thousand doses of vaccines for Greece.
"Even if we wanted vaccines from Russia and risked bypassing the European process, there is not enough," Mitsotakis said.
Tsipras, meanwhile, responded that other countries such as Germany and Austria are already in talks with Moscow to pre-order the vaccine, which is awaiting approval for use by the European Medicines Agency (EMA).
Mitsotakis also accused Tsipras of trying to provoke a government crisis similar to the one in Slovakia that resulted in the resignation of Slovak Prime Minister Igor Matovi?.
In order for the European Commission to start negotiations to order a vaccine from one country, it takes at least four member states to make a formal request.
No member state has made such a request so far, but some EU leaders have preferred to negotiate directly with Moscow.
German Chancellor's key spokesman Steffen Seibert has said that Berlin was open to buying the Russian vaccine unilaterally if other EU partners were not interested.
Moreover, Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron held a teleconference last week with Russian President Vladimir Putin during which the possibility of Sputnik V registration in the EU was raised as well as the prospect of joint production in the EU nations.
Despite delays in delivering vaccines, the EU insists it can vaccinate 70% of the elderly population by September with vaccines already approved.
The slow spread of vaccination across Europe due to delays with mainly AstraZeneca vaccines has caused political unrest in many EU capitals.