Kyriakos Mitsotakis sent a message to citizens about the catastrophic fires. The Greek Prime Minister apologized for the shortcomings that arose during the extinguishing of the fires, but at the same time noted that now is not the time to take responsibility.
However, as he characteristically stated, “responsibilities will be allocated whenever and wherever necessary.”
Mitsotakis’s message to the people of Greece
The last days have been one of the most difficult for our country for decades. We have fought and we continue to fight with all our might. But before us is a natural disaster of unprecedented proportions: in a few days, 586 fires broke out in all parts of Greece. The fires, which are now very difficult to extinguish due to the abnormal heat and long months of drought.
Many countries are already helping us with resources and people. I thank them for their solidarity. But above all, I am grateful to everyone who is fighting local fires. They are struggling with a natural phenomenon, the scale of which often exceeds their capabilities. And yet they don’t give up. In their blackened faces, we see Greece resisting and winning. And the wave of support and mutual assistance that is spreading throughout the country means the decision of this people to quickly restore what was destroyed.
The fact that people were saved is the professionalism of the Civil Protection Service
The fact that people were rescued with a complete evacuation plan is due to the professionalism of civil protection, the actions of the police and the coast guard. It was not self-evident and self-evident. The same is with the protection of many settlements that did not burn down, thanks to the self-sacrifice of firefighters and volunteers and, of course, our pilots and armed forces. Within a few days, 62 organized evacuations of residents took place in 141 districts.
The scale of the disaster, especially in Evia and Attica, darkens our hearts. And first, I apologize for any shortcomings that existed. I fully understand the pain of our fellow citizens who saw the burned down houses or property. The upset of those who have moved as they are from their place of residence. Even the angry question of those seeking, for example, air assistance, not knowing whether the fire plane was flying elsewhere or the conditions were prohibitively difficult.
Responsibilities will be shared – first question – solutions
However, our response should not be unaddressed. Any flaws will be identified. And responsibilities will be distributed whenever and wherever necessary. Right now, the first problem is solutions. Just as the first problem was and remains the protection of human life. This is why the account of this experience must include not only what was lost, but also what was saved in a fire that has no precedent.
Obviously, the climate crisis is knocking on the doors of the entire planet, the fires last for weeks. This is a reason, not an excuse or an alibi. And I will say clearly: perhaps we did what was possible for man, but in many cases this seemed insufficient in an unequal battle with nature. Just as unequivocally, however, I will say that we will be next to the victims of the fire. As we did before, after the flood of Ianos in Thessaly or the great earthquake in Samos.
We must grit our teeth and move on. In other cases, the country experienced disasters, but withstood. The same will happen in this case, turning our sorrow into strength. So we will continue to fight on the front lines as the war continues. And at the same time, we will begin to heal our wounds: those who have lost their homes and property will be compensated, the burned areas will be reforested, and the necessary flood defenses will be put in place immediately.
500 million aid for Attica and Evia
We have already received significant resources from the Reforestation Fund for reforestation, primarily in Evia and Attica. Today I approved a supplementary fund of 500 million euros specifically for these areas. And if necessary, there will be additional European assistance. Our goal is to be a model for a new beginning, a dynamic restart. To which, I am sure, institutions, enterprises and, above all, civil society itself will respond.
There we will plant not only many, but also the necessary trees, using the most modern know-how. So, with the help of nature, our forests can be reborn, and life and economies can return to places that have been hit by fire.
Bureaucracy will be watched
The damage has already begun to be recorded. Bureaucracy will be watched. And the first compensation will be paid immediately, by a simple application from each affected party, which will be sent from a single electronic platform.
The € 1.8 billion civil protection program also starts with prevention. The entire reconstruction plan is under the control of the Prime Minister’s Office. As far as Evia is concerned, I promise that there will be a targeted program for the restoration and development of the island.
Specific announcements will be made at the Council of Ministers tomorrow. And in the coming days, I will answer all questions personally. I hope that tomorrow there will be a cross-party consensus, because if its task today belongs to the government, then the responsibility for tomorrow belongs to all of us.
I’ve dealt with many crises
Let me finish with a personal report. As prime minister, in 25 months I have managed to cope with many crises, from the asymmetric attack on Evros to the coronavirus. And from the successive national problems in the Eastern Mediterranean to the high stakes on vaccinations. All of them had multifaceted consequences for the economy and society. And at first they all seemed insurmountable. But we overcame them all with perseverance and unity. This will happen even now, when bold decisions will be made that will change a lot.
I am confident that this test will also be an opportunity that will teach us and make us better. Because the problem of the climate crisis concerns not only us, but especially the next generation. Personally, I will continue to do what I chose from the beginning: speak the language of truth, fulfill my responsibilities, reflect differences and unite Greeks. And work hard for the homeland that we deserve.