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Greece Invokes Constitution to Impose Compulsory Vaccination

coronavirus vaccine compulsory vaccination greece
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and President of the Republic Katerina Sakellaropoulou spoke to the media on Friday, defending compulsory vaccination in Greece. Credit: Greek Reporter

Greece’s Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis defended compulsory vaccination for some groups in the country by referencing Article 25 of the Greek constitution on Friday.

Mitsotakis spoke with the President of the Hellenic Republic Katerina Sakellaropoulou in front of the media about the coronavirus and the rate of vaccination in Greece. Both high-ranking politicians appeared to be in agreement about the need for a majority of the Greek populace to become inoculated.

Greece’s compulsory vaccination constitutional, says PM

Mitsotakis highlighted that the Delta variant of the virus, which is much more transmissible than the original virus, means that it is more important than ever before for all Greeks who can get vaccinated to do so.

“The state has the right to demand the all citizens to pay their debt of social and national solidarity back,” noted Mitsotakis, referring to Article 25, Paragraph 4 of the Constitution. He then claimed that this part of Greek law is more relevant today than ever.

“This is what we demand from our fellow citizens. The debt of social and national solidarity. The battle of our generation is tackling the pandemic. We will beat it.

“But we must win it by taking all the responsibility of their citizens towards themselves, their families and society as a whole,” Mitsotakis said, arguing that people have a moral duty to becomevaccinated.

Following the meeting, the Prime Minister also tweeted about the event; his call for people to get vaccinated if they can is shown below.

“Yesterday we surpassed the hurdle of 10,000 vaccine doses. The Delta variant means that we must strengthen our efforts to convince our fellow citizens, who may still be hesitant, to get vaccinated. Meeting with @PresidencyGR.”

No constitutional right to “endanger the life and health of fellow human beings”

President Sakellaropoulou also spoke at length on Friday, and encouraged those who have yet to get inoculated to do so. She agreed with Mitsotakis that it was constitutional for the Greek government to coerce people who work in sectors where they endanger others to get inoculated.

“The Constitution does not recognize anyone’s right, in the context of his own freedom, to endanger the life and health of his fellow human beings. This is because the rights outlined in the Constitution are granted not only because we are individuals with human value, which of course applies, but also because we are part of society as a whole,” the former Supreme Court justice explained.

“And as part of society as a whole, precisely because we have the obligation of solidarity, that is, to take care of public health and the lives of our fellow human beings, we are obliged to accept restrictions on our own rights,” Sakellaropoulou added.

The government’s proposition to make vaccination compulsory for healthcare and eldercare workers in Greece was ratified in Parliament on Thursday. The motion was voted for by MPs from New Democracy, Mitsotakis’ party, as well as by Movement for Change (KINAL) MPs.

However, representatives from SYRIZA, KKE, Hellenic Solution and MERA25 voted against the new measures, which calls for all healthcare, disability care and eldercare workers who refuse to receive at least the first dose of the vaccine against the coronavirus by August 16 to be placed on unpaid leave.

However, the vast majority of healthcare workers have already chosen to be vaccinated, with 90 percent of Greek doctors and 73 percent of nurses having done so. These numbers stand in stark contrast with the general population inoculation rate, which is currently hovering at around 52 percent for Greek citizens.

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