“Our hope and dream is that we reconstruct North Evia, which suffeered immensely, to make it even better than before,” Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis told European Commissioner for Crisis Management Janez Lenarčič at Maximos Mansion in Athens on Wednesday.
Mitsotakis thanked the European Union, the RescEU emergency scheme, and all countries that sent personnel or material support to manage the fires that wreaked havoc in Greece in August. “Twenty-three countries were present in Greece during this unprecedented crisis,” he said, “a true expression of solidarity and proof that sharing abilities and means” is effective during times of crisis.
Lenarčič said that there were 11 EU member-states to offer help in the form of airplanes, helicopters, over 200 fire trucks and more than 1,000 firefighters. “This is the largest firefighting operation that the EU’s Civil Protection Mechnanism ever coordinated,” he said. Actually, he added, Greece has requested help from the mechanism 10 times since 2014, and has offered help to other EU countries in 22 instances.
Hardalias meets with Lenarčič
Earlier in the day, Lenarčič met wtih Civil Protection Deputy Minister for Crisis Management Nikos Hardalias.
They discussed ways of further boosting RescEU and promoting collaborations, including exchanges of good practices and technical know-how among voluntarily participating countries.
Hardalias expressed his appreciation for the speedy response of the EU to Greece’s call for help, while the commissioner said that Greece is particularly active and systematically offers to help in emergencies.
Lenarčič also paid a visit to the Civil Protection premises in Avlonas, north of Athens, where part of the joint European health supplies related to the Covid-19 pandemic are stored (RescEU stockpiling). Greece, one of the first countries to respond to the request, is storing face masks, high and medium protection medical suits, medical gloves and glasses and such. It is from these stores that Greece has sent, as part of RescEU, over 48 million items of health materials to France, Serbia, North Macedonia and Montenegro. The cost of purchase, storage and distribution of the material is funded by the EU.
The European Commissioner also had the opportunity to meet with firefighters of the Polish and Romanian missions in Greece to help Greek firefighters in Attica.