Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis met today with the EU Commissioner for Crisis Management, Janez Lenarčič.
At the start of their meeting the Prime Minister and the Commissioner had the following exchange:
Kyriakos Mitsotakis: It’s a pleasure to see you and thank you for the visit. Ι just came from Parliament. We had a discussion, tried to make -as objective as possible- an assessment regarding the natural disaster that struck us this summer.
I would, first of all, like to thank the European Union, the rescEU mechanism, all the European countries that contributed, but also all the countries that contributed bilaterally. We had 23 countries present in Greece during this unprecedented crisis, a real show of solidarity. But also proof that sharing resources -and I’m not just talking about planes, but also firefighters, trucks- actually does work in these times of crisis.
I think we’ve taken a lot of interesting ideas as to how we can improve that level of coordination. But of course, now the difficult job of rebuilding is starting. We have with us Mr. Benos, who is a very, very experienced politician. He actually led the effort to rebuild Kalamata after the earthquake of 1986. Our hope and our vision is to rebuild northern Evia, which was particularly struck, better than it was before.
So, thank you again for being here, it’s a pleasure to see you.
Janez Lenarcic: Thank you, Prime Minister. Thank you for receiving us and I understand you had another very busy day. That’s why I appreciate, all the more, this opportunity. Indeed, my visit is also intended to show my personal solidarity and solidarity on behalf of the European Commission. In view of the difficult challenges that Greece faced this summer, we were asked to mobilize assistance. We tried our best. We were encouraged when we saw the response by the EU member States. Eleven of them, eleven EU member States provided airplanes, helicopters, more than 1,000 firefighters, more than 200 fire trucks.
This has been the largest-ever firefighting operation, coordinated through the EU Civil Protection Mechanism. But on the other hand, I also want to point out the fact that Greece is not only a beneficiary from this mechanism. Actually, since 2014, Greece has asked for assistance through the Union Civil Protection Mechanism 10 times, while it has offered its assistance, when others asked, 22 times. Also, Greece is a very strong supporter of the Union Civil Protection Mechanism as such, which we appreciate. It is also hosting a rescEU Strategic Reserve of the European Union. I was able to visit the rescEU medical stockpile today and there is also rescEU aerial firefighting capacity.
And we would like to continue to work with you, Prime Minister, and your government, in order to further expand not only the national and European response capacity, but also to work on prevention and adaptation. I would like to salute the words that you pronounced recently that there is a time for bold action, because climate change will lead to more challenges like this. And on this issue we would certainly like to work with you.