Citing the at least 91 dead in Europe’s worst wildfire in 118 years, European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides said the toll and devastation so quickly “may indicate gaps prevention and preparedness,” treading delicately with diplomatic language despite the grim toll.
“No doubt we experienced and are still experiencing a tragedy in Greece. So many victims in such a small area may indicate gaps in prevention and preparedness,” he told Kathimerini in an interview. “The Greek state has specific bodies that will decide in a scientific way on any possible shortcomings,” said Stylianides, a Cypriot.
He came to Athens to coordinate European assistance to Greece and express “European solidarity,” without explaining how that would help or what he meant.
Natural disasters “have no borders,” the commissioner said, adding that any help from the European Union is a “dead letter” if it is not accompanied by a prevention plan and preparedness which the ruling Radical Left SYRIZA-led coalition did not have, leaving victims own their own.
“As the saying goes: prevention is always better than a cure,” he said, careful not to direct stronger criticism at the government or Greece, an ally of Cyprus.
“We urgently need to cultivate a culture that responds to the effects of climate change. That is why the Commission’s proposal for upgrading the EU civil defence mechanism – RescEU – has prevention and preparedness as its main pillar,” he added.
He did not explain how that would have helped Greece where the government has been blamed for not alerting citizens, especially in the destroyed town of Mati, where there no mobile phone warnings, nor from the state media, no police using sound equipment to drive around and tell people to flee and the Greek Navy not being sent in full to help people floundering in the sea after jumping in to get away from the inferno.