At his first press conference after the start of the devastating wildfires, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis acknowledged the setbacks in the fight against the disaster and announced measures to protect the country from the climate crisis.
The Greek prime minister insisted that responsibility “would be transferred” in due course, hinting at the possibility of a cabinet reshuffle. However, he clarified that responsibility is both individual and collective and also refers to “structures and processes”.
He added that this responsibility will be assigned with a clear mind, and not rashly.
“The government has shown that it does not hesitate to admit its mistakes … we did what was possible for a person, but in some cases it was not enough,” he said.
Kiryakos Mitsotakis stressed that the preparations that have been started cannot be ignored, and at the same time admitted that the reality exceeded all expectations, as the heat and drought turned the country into a powder keg. According to him, the authorities are faced with about 100 active fires every day.
“Next year we will be more prepared,” he said, warning that the danger still exists.
“The climate crisis – I would like to use that term, not climate change – the climate crisis is here and now,” he said, adding that he was ready for “bold change”. This includes a new climate law to be passed by parliament very soon and the creation of a 500-strong Forestry Operations Unit.
“This can be done during 2022,” the prime minister said.
Mitsotakis also highlighted the fact that, despite the enormous environmental disaster, no human casualties occurred, with the exception of death of 38-year-old volunteer Vasilis Filoraswho actually crashed on a motorcycle.
He also defended the evacuation of settlements.
“I find it difficult to understand how one can criticize a policy whose ultimate goal is to protect life. I believe that mostly on social media rumors are spreading about the evacuation as rude and wrong, ”he said.
In the meantime, immediate financial assistance will be provided to those affected by the fires. “Citizens will not be helpless. The state will be on their side, ”he said, highlighting the commission set up to restore northern Evia.
His main political opponent on Thursday lamented what he called “Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’s lack of awareness of the extent of the destruction caused by wildfires.”
“Listening to the Prime Minister today, I and every citizen feel great anxiety and great insecurity, because [в правительстве] did not realize the scale of the disaster, as well as the weakness and incompetence of the state machinery, ”Tsipras said during a tour of the fire-affected area of Ilia County in southern Greece. “He did not realize the scale of his responsibility,” added Alexis Tsipras.