For people whose holidays were cut short due to the wildfires on Rhodes, the Greek government will offer one week of free holidays next spring or autumn on the island, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis announced on Wednesday, during an interview with the show “Good Morning Britain” on the British television network ITV.
Talking about the wildfires, he also emphasised that “no lives were lost in Rhodes, no injuries reported, we managed to evacuate 20,000 people very, very safely”.
“We understand that this caused some inconvenience for visitors but I am happy to report that Rhodes today is more welcoming than ever, the island is back to normal and for all those whose holidays were cut short by the wildfires, the Greek government in cooperation with the local authorities will offer one week of free holidays on Rhodes next spring and next fall, so that we make sure that they come back to the island and that they enjoy its natural beauty,” he added.
Mitsotakis also emphasised that the fire, while devastating, had only affected 15% of Rhodes, which was now “back to normal”.
“We have always had wildfires in the Mediterranean for millenia. What has changed over the past years due to climate change is their intensity. Yes, we had a devastating fire on Rhodes but it affected less than 15% of the island. The island is perfectly back to normal, we have no active wildfires as we speak and the weather for the next 15 days looks relatively benign,” he said.
Stressing that Greece is an absolutely safe destination, Mitsotakis invited Britons that have not yet decided where they will go for their holidays to choose Greece and Rhodes, while pointing out that fires were a problem throughout the Mediterranean, not just in Greece.
He said that the state mechanism in Greece was well prepared to deal with such situations and particularly stressed the introduction in the last three years of the emergency 112 number, which could be used to send alerts and advice to the population of affected areas in the case of natural disasters.
The Greek prime minister praised the response by the inhabitants of Rhodes, saying that they had been incredibly supportive and opened up their homes to house those evacuated from fire-stricken areas.
In addition to the fires, the interview also focused on the climate crisis and migration. Mitsotakis said that the climate crisis was an “absolute priority” for the Greek government, pointing out that 50 pct of power produced in the country came from renewables and that this will increase to 80 pct by 2030, so as to reduce emissions by 55 pct and achieve a goal of zero emissions by 2050.
The Greek premier emphasised that renewable energy resources were not just cheaper and good for the environment but also a wise geopolitical choice, leading to greater energy independence. “No one can take away the sun and the wind,” he added.
On migration, Mitsotakis said his government’s policy was “tough but fair” and concentrated on fighting trafficking networks in cooperation with the countries of origin and transit. He emphasised that this was an issue that concerned all of the European Union and said that Greece wants legal avenues for migration to exist “but on our terms, not those of the traffickers”.