Politicians and our burnt forests

The day after, which will coincide with the return of thousands of Athenians after their holiday vacations, following a year-and-a-half of lockdowns, will be entirely different for everyone.

Wildfire in Vilia Attica, on August 17, 2021. / Πυρκαγιά στα Βίλια, Αττικής, 17 Αυγούστου 2021

By Zois Tsolis

The smoke from the burnt earth of Attica that darkened the sky over Athens, and the sound of the rotors of helicopters that flew from fire to fire, do not allow anyone to forget the disaster that befell the country this month.

It was an August that changed everything.

First of all it changed the lives of hundreds of families who lost their homes, their jobs, and their property from the wildfires – but also of those who comprehend the magnitude of the ecological and economic catastrophe.

The day after, which will coincide with the return of thousands of Athenians after their holiday vacations, following a year-and-a-half of full or partial lockdowns, will be entirely different for everyone.

Moreover, nothing will be the same for the political system, which is responsible for the disorganisation, the squandering of funds, and the lackadaisical administration and management of serious challenges, even during such critical solutions.

Governmental sources say that the new reality has hit home in the PM’s office in the harshest manner.

It has also hit home for the competent officials who lived through the tortuous hours of the huge fires in Varibobi, in Ilia prefecture, in Evia, and, most recently in Vilia.

Confronted with this new reality and the need to make bold and radical decisions regarding the operation of the state, everyone realises that the time has come to abandon political “cockfights”.

It is perfectly clear that there is a national need to manage the damage as swiftly and effectively as possible.

That huge task requires coming up with the necessary funds and mobilising all forces – the central government, local government, volunteers, and other citizens.

Given the enormous responsibility of parties that have governed the country over the years – PASOK, SYRIZA, and now New Democracy – there is no other choice but for each party to acknowledge its share of the blame, as everything has now been revealed, and opposition parties must distance themselves from extreme voices who believed (and still do) that they can reap political benefits from the burnt earth.

The creation of a national plan for reconstructing the country with the broadest possible consensus is the most important and urgent challenge that the country and the political system face today.

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