June 23, 2024

Athens News

News in English from Greece

K. Mitsotakis announced readiness for the fire season


Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis mentioned the government's actions to strengthen the civil protection sector in his speech during the presentation of the “AIGIS” program by the Ministry of Climate Crisis Management and Civil Protection.

In his speech, the Prime Minister first of all emphasized that the climate crisis is already present, we experienced it in Rhodes and Dadia, as well as with the unprecedented intensity of cyclones Daniel and Elias. Extreme events that indicate that nothing will be the same as yesterday.

“Our duty is to adapt to new conditions,” the Prime Minister continued, “for us, the protection of human life is a sacred priority. The AEGIS program, worth more than 2 billion euros, includes targeted measures to strengthen infrastructure and technical equipment, as well as the integration of new technologies and innovations in the field of civil defense. “I want to say a big thank you to the unsung heroes on the front line, those who fight fires, save lives, selflessly intervene and prevent the worst from happening.”

Mitsotakis then spoke about the situation that authorities had to deal with this year, as the relatively dry winter that preceded it complicated the situation.

“We've done everything we can to be ready for the summer. Most fires are dealt with quickly, but few arsonists escape.” Mitsotakis said, noting that fines have also become more severe. “There is no place for inaction and indifference” – he added, noting that “The fines have become more serious.”

He also mentioned a national coordination center, which, once completed, will have full control and access to information from many sources. Technology and even artificial intelligence will be widely used for fire and flood forecasting models, taking into account the characteristics of each region.

You'll never hear me say 'we're all set', instead we'll say 'we're doing our best',” he continued. Speaking about the challenges we face today, he cited the example of Dubai and the recent floods in the United Arab Emirates, as well as Canada, which has faced major forest fires.

Greece in 2024 is nothing like Greece in 2019, Mitsotakis said, speaking about the situation with civil defense authorities. Today, he continued, we have a body that has the necessary reliability and efficiency. He also emphasized, in addition to mentioning the purchase of new firefighting aircraft, that the Canadair aircraft that we currently have in the firefighting fleet have been flying for 50 years. “I bow to those who monitor their performance and flight safety,” he said.

Concluding his speech, Mitsotakis said that the European elections will also decide which political force is able to provide Greece with more resources. It will be decided whether our country remains on the path of progress, abandoning experimentation and adventure. “It is our duty to provide our human resources with the best means to do their jobs safely,” he concluded.

At the start of a potentially unprecedented fire season, additional resources for civil defense are critical to the government, and the full launch of all program projects is expected to be announced during the summer.

According to reports, in the last 9 months under Mr. Kikilias, the AIGIS project that was planned has begun to be fully implemented, and tenders worth €1.5 billion have already been launched. Tenders for another 320 million will be announced by the end of May, and the program will be fully completed no later than the end of July. The first deliveries are expected from 2025, and the first unresolved issues will be new coordination aircraft and mobile operations centers in 13 regions of the country.

It is noteworthy that in October Mitsotakis said that AIGIS will be the highest reference for the Ministry of Civil Defense, since “the main task of the minister is not to go out to put out fires or deal with the consequences of a major flood on the spot,” but “his main role is to implement the ambitious plan to the fullest extent possible.” adapting civil defense to new requirements of the time.”

Opposition critics believe that “This program will become another “feeding trough” for commercial structures close to the authorities.” Stating, among other things, that given “Kyriakos Mitsotakis’s ability to attract troubles, in the coming years we will face new natural disasters and large forest fires.”

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