Greek PM heralds new agency to tackle emergencies

Greek PM heralds new agency to tackle emergencies

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras Thursday heralded the creation of the National Emergency Management Service, which will replace the General Secretariat for Civil Protection in the wake of last month’s deadly Attica wildfires that claimed the lives of 93 people.

The new agency, which will be under the direct authority of the Interior Ministry, will integrate all the services, research institutes and voluntary teams involved in the management of emergencies, Tsipras said during a visit to the Citizens’ Protection Ministry. It will be run by a candidate of proven experience and scientific competence who will be appointed subject to approval by a team of experts, he said.

The director will be advised by a scientific council comprising members of research institutes and other agencies involved in the field of natural disasters, Tsipras said. Representatives of the fire service, ambulance service, police, Hellenic Red Cross, coast guard, military, forestry service as well as research institutes and voluntary bodies will also be called upon to give advice.

The new service will have a budget of 500 million, comprising funds from the European Investment Bank, the European Union-subsidized National Strategic Reference Framework, as well as Greece’s public investment program, the premier said.

Tsipras invited the public and all political parties to support the new agency and took an indirect dig at New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who this week repeated his call for early elections, accusing the government of shirking responsibility for the fires.

Describing the deadly wildfires in eastern Attica as “an unspeakable tragedy,” Tsipras said the most important thing is that such a disaster is never again repeated, not “elections over the cinders.” 

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