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Politics

Emergency Meeting on Prevention Measures Ahead of Natural Catastrophes

ΑΤΗΕΝS– Three ministers met with mayors of 18 areas in Attica Region placed under special civil prevention measures for natural disasters, particularly ahead of the summer fire season, at the Civil Protection Operations Center on Saturday.

The briefing included Citizen Protection Minister Michalis Chrysochoidis, Civil Protection Deputy Minister for Crisis Management Nikos Hardalias and Alternate Interior Minister for Local Governtment issues Stelios Petsas, Attica Region director Giorgos Patoulis, and security officers including the Fire Brigade. There were also 11 mayors of 18 regions included, and representatives of the power distribution and management companies.

"This is the first time we are doing this," Chrysochoidis said, "because, as you already know, a state of emergency has been called up to now only after a catastrophe occurs. We are now following the reverse process." He said the regions included "have been declared by Civil Protection as dangerous and vulnerable regions."

The minister called on all Greeks living near urban forests or in forests to keep their yards clean and be very careful on windy days.

The operations will be done in a group spirit, between the government and local government, and tasks have been assigned in detail, Alternate Minister Petsas said.

Civil Protection will clear the perimeter of the 18 regions, protecting them externally, while municipalities will assume the responsibility of distributing tasks to protect forests. The latter will be provided emergency funds by the Interior Ministry, based on requests they must submit by Wednesday. Anything the municipalities are not able to do will be assumed by the region, or, as a final resort, by the Civil Protection Secretariat, Petsas said, adding that the prime minister has authorized the emergency funds ahead of time.

On his part, Deputy Minister Hardalias said that "for decades now, those of us who have experience of local government and the state's mechanisms, we can say that the issue of prevention was spent on PR comments, with unsurmountable bureaucratic obstacles. It's the first time – after Law 4662 voted last year – that the government provides clear guideline and prioritizes prevention."

He added that a pilot program among ministries, the regions, and the Fire Brigade has been in operation since October 2020, to test out natural catastrophe prevention and management, especially of fires.

The mayors of the 11 municipalities included the following: Lavreotiki region, Markopoulo-Messogeas, Spata-Artemis, Rafina-Pikermi, Marathonas, Dionyssos, Kifissia, Oropos, Acharnes, Mandra-Idilia, and Salamina island.

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