Greek social media users have spent the week laughing at Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who credited a fictional country for its efforts against coronavirus during a May 25 TV interview.
In the interview with journalist Mara Zaharea on STAR TV, the Prime Minister said his own country's successes battling COVID-19 had put it in a group of countries that included “Singapore, Australia (and) South Zealand” who were sharing advice and suggestions on how to re-open the economy.
The Prime Minister's blunder soon went viral on social media, with users asking questions such as, “which of the two Zealands is the best”, or if the PM had confused the N-word before “Zealand” with the Greek word “Notia”, meaning “South.”
A “laughing stock” on Twitter again
It is not the first time that a Greek PM's on-camera gaffes have become national talking points. Predecessors Costas Simitis, George Papandreou and Alexis Tsipras had already established a rich tradition of public speaking fails.
Ο Κυριάκος είπε ότι η χώρα συνεργάζεται, μεταξύ άλλων, με τη… Νότιο Ζηλανδία!
Ξέσπασε εμφύλιος εκεί και χωρίστηκε η χώρα στη μέση;
Kyriakos [Mitsotakis] said that the country cooperates, among others, with…South Zealand!
Is a civil war taking place there and the country was cut in the middle?
Όταν παπαγαλιζεις χωρίς να κατέχεις το κείμενο βλέπεις Ν.Ζηλανδια και λες Νότιος Ζηλανδία.
Ούτε για έτοιμο κείμενο δεν είναι.
— Lina Greek (@Linagreek) May 25, 2020
When you recite parrot-fashion without having mastered the text, you see “N. Zelandia” and you say “South Zealand”.
-Δεν υπαρχει Νότια Ζηλανδία Κυριάκο.
-Και τι υπάρχει;
-Και η Παλιά που είναι βόρεια ή νότια;
— Γκίζμο (@BKoufontinas) May 25, 2020
-Kyriakos, there is no South Zealand.
-And what is there?
-And the Old one, where is it? North or South?
— Costas Tachtsidis (@C_tachtsidis) May 25, 2020
Write for him the full name of the country in the auto cue or his notes.
He cannot even say his own name correctly without help. #SouthZealand #Mitsotakis
In this tweet, the user mocks Mitsotakis’ high upbringing and education — he comes from one of the most established and prominent families in Greek politics.
Τον έστειλαν να σπουδάσει στο Harvard ,πλήρωσαν τόσα όσα βγάζουν άλλοι μία ζωή, για να λέει τη Νέα Ζηλανδία, Νότια Ζηλανδία. Τον ακούν τα παιδιά του δημοτικού και κλαίνε απο τα γέλια. Μπράβο !!! Να τον χαιρόμαστε τον Ηγέτη μας τον ΑΡΙΣΤΟ ΚΥΡΙΑΚΟ !!!ΑΥΤΟΣ ΜΑΣ ΑΞΙΖΕΙ !!!!
— ΓΙΑΝΝΗΣ ΜΑΚΡΗΣ (@makrjohn1968) May 25, 2020
He was sent to study at Harvard, they paid so much money, that others need a whole lifetime to earn, so that he can say “New Zealand” as “South Zealand”! Primary school kids listen to him and drop dead laughing. Long live our Leader, our EXCELLENT KYRIAKOS!!! HE'S WHAT WE DESERVE!!!
User AnnaKonda made fun of the alleged “Mitsotakis jinx“:
— 𝔄𝔫𝔫𝔞_𝔖𝔭𝔬𝔫𝔡𝔞 (@_AnnaKonda_) May 26, 2020
So, is this a simple coincidence?
Earthquake in South Zealand, 5,2 R, today early in the morning
The center-right New Democracy party led by Kyriakos Mitsotakis won the General Elections held in Greece in summer 2019, defeating its main opponent Syriza and its leader, former Greek PM Alexis Tsipras.
The COVID-19 pandemic is just one of a list of challenges facing the government. Others include the refugee and migrant crisis, tricky foreign politics, and a still-struggling economy that has taken its toll on public health and education.