Wildfires in Greece: a preventable tragedy?
Greek firefighters have been battling wildfires in the greater Athens area for several days now, and the country’s General Secretariat for Civil Protection has ordered the evacuation of thousands of residents. The state apparatus is doing all it can to contain the fires, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has said. Commentators point out that it should never have come to this.
Citizens need protection instead of evacuation
Writing in Documento, investigative journalist Kostas Vaxevanis criticises the authorities’ orders to evacuate in Documento:
“The government of every country is there to protect the country and its citizens from all kinds of dangers and disasters. If its task in the event of fires, floods or wars is to evacuate, then neither protective measures nor defence systems are needed. If someone attacks the country, we simply evacuate. Mitsotakis’ attempt to defend his communications narrative rather than the country is destroying everything. ... The only thing Mitsotakis is right about is that he received a scorched earth legacy from his predecessor — namely himself [Mitsotakis had already served one term].”
More a political problem than a climate one
The same scenes play out in Greece every year, Naftemporiki laments:
“This is the 42nd summer in which Greece has burned and we mourn the victims and the losses of nature, property, crops, livestock and our own oxygen. Every summer we are spectators of the same tragedy. ... We are at the mercy of the wind, of the firefighters, who are only appreciated on a seasonal basis, of our aerial firefighting capacities, which we have not been able to upgrade — the country is abandoned to its fate every summer. For the past 40 years the fires in Greece have been a political problem rather than a climate problem. But no one is ever willing to assume the political responsibility and, above all, the political costs for solving this problem.”