Greeks were stunned to hear Prime Minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, saying on Monday that the devastating fire in Mati was due to the climate change. You see, ever since the disaster that caused the lives of 102 people in july 2018, New Democracy has been accusing the Regional governor of Attica, Rena Dourou, a leading member of SYRIZA, for the tragedy.
Addressing the UN Climate Summit 2019 in New York, the Prime Minister said that the unique extreme conditions of the fire were linked to the climate phenomena.
“Early in the afternoon of July 23 last year, a small fire broke out on a hill outside Athens. The fire department treats thousands of such fires every year. But that was different. Guided by strong winds, it quickly spread and reached the suburban town of Mati. Once it entered the the residential area with pine trees, it became impossible to restrict the fire. People were running for their lives before any evacuation order was issued.
102 did not succeed. They died in a fiery hell. Everything was done in less than four hours. The catastrophe in Mati deeply shocked Greek society. Extreme weather events are a direct consequence of climate change. It is not a problem we can postpone for decades.”
This part of Mitsotakis’ speech triggered an outrage in SYRIZa with the party spokesman, Alexandros Haritsis, to urge Mitsotakis to “apologize in the memory of the dead” and if possible to not return back to Greece.
“It seems that only abroad he can he leave behind the veil of populism and falsehood, which he has cultivated all the time before, and restore his relationship with the reality. At the same time, however, we urge Mr Mitsotakis to apologize. He owes it primarily to the memory of the dead of the Mati fire, whose graves he shamelessly robbed for the petty benefit of the party.”
It is Mitsotaki’s second somersault after the Prespes Agreement,” Haritsis stressed.
Prompt was the response from the prime minister’s office. “Stop reminding people of the extent of your incapacity. The Erinyes [the Furies in ancient Greece] will chase you forever. Do not forget there is an open judicial case,” the PM’s office said among others in a statement stressing that “there were many fires this year too but not dead.”
However, criticism came also from another opposition part, the far-right Elliniki Lysi. The accused Mitsotakis of “political double-speak” and of relieving the former Prime Minister, Alexis Tsipras, of his responsibility for the tragedy.
While abroad Mitsotakis “blamed the climate change for the Mati disaster. In contrast, when in Greece, for Mitsotakis solely responsible for the Mati fire were PM Tsipras, former regional governor Dourou, and two minister,” Lysi said in a statement.
In other climate change news, Mitsotakis said during his UN speech that “the Greek government by the end of 2019 will adopt a new national policy for energy and the climate by the end of 2019. The policy will include
- the ban on single-use plastic starting in 2021
- the shutdown of lignite-run power production units by 2028
- the increase in the share of renewable resources to 35% by 2030.
HE also said that Greece intends to convene a high-level conference in Athens next year to adopt a resolution on the protection of cultural and natural heritage from climate change.