Greek PM apologises over fire-fighting failures, approves funding for wildfire relief

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Greek Prime Minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, apologised on Monday “for any weaknesses” in containing the massive wildfires that have destroyed swathes of forest land and forced hundreds of people to evacuate numerous settlements over the past week.

“I completely understand the pain of our fellow citizens who saw their homes or property burning,” Mitsotakis said in a televised message, noting that the first priority was “to save lives.”

“It is obvious that the climate crisis is affecting the whole planet. With fires that last for days. That is the explanation, but not an excuse, or an alibi. We may have done everything that was humanly possible, but in many cases this did not seem to be enough in the unequal battle with nature.

“The extent of the destruction blackens our hearts, I apologise for the losses.”

READ MORE: ‘Our village is dead’: Fires continue to ravage Evia island, two firefighters in critical condition.

Mitsotakis said any failures in Greece’s firefighting response will be identified, those responsible will be held to account and people whose property was destroyed will be compensated.

He said 63 organised evacuations took place in the past few days while 586 fires broke out all around the country, which were made worse by the continuing heatwave.

Mitsotakis has been visiting areas of Greece impacted by the fires.

In the same message, he announced that he had approved a supplemental budget of 500 million euros ($587 million) to fund relief and compensation for people who have lost homes and property.

The Prime Minister will chair a cabinet meeting on Tuesday which will announce specific relief measures.

He also thanked countries that are assisting Greece with fire-fighters and equipment.

READ MORE: Greek diaspora in Australia and worldwide unite to assist wildfire devastated Greece.

In response to this apology, the SYRIZA-Progressive Alliance party called Mitsotakis “provocative” and “unrepentant.”

“Mitsotakis only apologised because his communication experts asked him to, but nobody understood why, since he himself doesn’t believe it” the party said in a statement.

“In the midst of a continuing tragedy the premier talked only about himself and his supposed successes, including the pandemic. Nothing was said about the collapse of the so-called executive state in the latest fires.”

Source: Ekathimerini.

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