1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

Greek PM admits mistakes in fight against fires

August 25, 2021

Greece's prime minister says more could have been done to prepare for this year's devastating fire season.

Aerial view of burnt land on the island of Evia
Greek authorities are scrutinizing the management of the devastating wildfiresImage: ANE Edition/imago images

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said that despite a good level of preparation for the fire season, efforts still fell short.  

Addressing a parliamentary debate on the management of the wildfires, Mitsotakis said: "We had prepared well. But not well enough to deal with this phenomenon."

The prime minister said government would closely review its response in order to identify problem areas that could be corrected.

Mitsotakis told lawmakers there was a greater need for more firefighting aircraft, and that an authority would be established to help better coordinate emergency teams in future. He added that the early warning text message system had contributed to limiting casualties.

Climate change a key concern

In August, Greece recorded its hottest temperatures since 1987.

Mitsotakis said that in the first few days of the month, emergency services were called up to manage nearly 1,300 wildfires. Around 60 fires were burning every day, with deliberate acts of arson seen in many instances.

Volunteers pictured near a large wildfire on the island of Evia, ready to help local firefighters
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said there is a need for more firefighting aircraft and better coordinationImage: ANGELOS TZORTZINIS/AFP

The prime minister said the emergency showed a need for a radical shift to tackle global warming. 

Dealing with the crisis "is forcing us to change everything; the way we produce agricultural products, how we move around, how we generate energy and the way we build our homes," he told the parliament.

Greeks return to cinder and rubble

A summer of devastation

The fires have devastated large tracts of forests, land and homes. The island of Evia, and parts of the Peloponnese were among the areas worst hit.

An aid package of €500 million ($587 million) has been approved to help some of the worst affected areas. The prime minister said that all those who had been affected would receive help to rebuild their homes.

Mitsotakis also thanked the multinational response involving 23 countries, including Germany.

On Monday, firefighters were sent to tackle a blaze in the southern part of Evia, which they managed to contain after a few hours.

kb/nm (dpa, Reuters)