By George Gilson

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis in a parliamentary debate today on the recent disastrous wildfires defended the government’s management of the crisis, and he blamed the magnitude of it on the extended heat wave in the Mediterranean and on climate change.

Straight on the heels of the destruction of 100,000 hectares of forest land, in a calm and low-key speech, Mitsotakis stressed the need for a basic inter-party consensus in designing the restructuring of civil protection in the country.

In a thinly veiled comparison with SYRIZA’s handling of the 2018 Mati wildfire in which 102 people died, the PM said that the government’s handling of the month’s wild saved lives.

“Thousands of human lives were saved, and human life is our paramount concern,” he declared

Blaming climate change

Mitsotakis blamed climate change for the extent and intensity of the recent wildfires.

He also blamed the protracted and intense heat wave in entire Mediterranean, noting that 1987 was the last very intense heat wave in Greece.

“It turned all our forests into tinder boxes,” he said.

Mitsotakis said that the 112 emergency civil protection hotline saved lives and boasted that large and powerful countries such as Germany, France and the UK do not have such a hotline.

“The culture of evacuations is a legacy of these wildfires,”

He also maintained that there were more fire planes this year than ever and that the government plans to buy new fire planes and rent more.

The PM also thanked the fire fighters from other EU countries who played a crucial role in containing the fires.

They included Romanian fire fighters and also Polish fire fighters, who are credited with saving the community of Vilia, Attica.


The PM underlined the fact that he issued a public apology for the extent of the wildfires, which he described as a “personal moral and political act”. He did not specify which particular errors and omissions, and main opposition SYRIZA leader lambasted the PM for that.

“What exactly did you apologise for?” Alexis Tsipras asked repeatedly.

The PM said that 10mn euros in aid to the fire-stricken has already been disbursed. “The state has never moved more swiftly,” he declared.

He also announced that there is a plan for anti-flooding works everywhere, and that the project is already underway in Evia.

The PM said there will be a new platform where private and corporate donors will be able to donate for reconstruction and donors will know where their money is going.

As far as managing the climate crisis is concerned, Mitsotakis said, “We must change everything –forest protection, energy production, and the way we move”. He said billions in EU funding will be earmarked for this.

The PM concluded his speech with a quote from the great French author Victor Hugo:

“Nature speaks but humans do not listen Hugo said. Well, Greece listens.”