Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan “never introduced issues related to Greek national sovereignty” during their meeting on the sidelines of NATO’s recent Summit, as media reports claimed, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said in Parliament on Monday, responding to opposition criticism.
The PM also said he was open to discussion and to personal briefings about the issue, during a debate on the bill lifting restrictions for Greeks who wish to vote from abroad.
Also responding to Plefsi Eleftherias leader Zoe Konstantopoulou, ahead of his visit to Nicosia on Wednesday, Mitsotakis said that Greece firmly stands by the search for a resolution that ends Turkish occupation on the island republic. “Any discussion seeking as a starting point a two-countries solution is rejected by Greece and the ypriot people.”
Greek forests have truly been neglected to a large degree, but it is a myth that they can all be cleaned up to prevent fires, Mitsotakis said, responding to opposition criticism on the handling of fires.
Mitsotakis said that Greece has more forestland today than it did in the 60s due to abandoned and overgrown farmland, creating more obstacles in fire prevention policy. Programs worth 150 million euros to clean up forests, funding introduced for the first time by his government, would be supplemented by EU Recovery Funds. “The emphasis will be on forests surrounding urban areas in Attica and in those that are of special ecological significance,” he said of policy.
Reponding to the main opposition SYRIZA, Mitsotakis said that the forestry service, which is now in the field working with firefighters, used to have no director. He also pointed out that evacuations may follow a routine procedure, “but are not a simple issue,” and anything could go wrong.
More fire airplanes
Addressing the criticism of Greece not having enough aerial firefighting means, the premier said that Greece has managed to rent 10 Erickson helicopters, while the global fleet of Ericksons numers 40. The EU’s volunteer emergency program RescEU has provided airplanes, along with additional ones from Turkey and Egypt. Speaking of more aerial means, the premier estimated that Greece will be the first to acquire the new CL-515s series of Canadair-type, possibly in 2026, while it will also buy 10 new Erickson helicopters. Included in plans are thoughts to share them with southern European countries, he added.
Climate change will force the government to do more every year, Mitsotakis said, while he also pointed out that during the devastating fire in East Attica in 2018, “Mati had no aerial firefighting craft. Today there is no fire in Greece that does not include aerial firefighters, those that are available. There is no political intervention of where they will be sent. That is not our job, it has to follow criteria.”
Mitsotakis also castigated critics who promote “the myth that we are starting the fire supposedly so we can set up windmill farms. That is the greatest nonsense ever said.”