President in environment plea

Protection of the environment has become a key issue for democracy to deal with, President Karolos Papoulias said yesterday as he hosted an event to mark the 33-year anniversary of the return of democracy to Greece following the military dictatorship. Referring to the recent forest fires that have ravaged the country, Papoulias said they have shown that «we are still searching for the level of ecological awareness that will protect us from the spread of cement and the disappearance of green areas.» Papoulias has recently held talks with representatives of environmentalist groups and, in a break with tradition, invited members of non-governmental organizations to the annual ceremony, held at the Presidential Palace in central Athens. «We all feel the effect of the consequences of destruction of nature but people living in run-down areas feel them most,» said Papoulias. «Those better off can choose to live in better conditions… that is why the protection of the environment is now a matter of democracy.» No music was played over the loudspeakers at the Presidential Palace as a sign of respect for the two firefighting pilots who were killed on Monday. Papoulias expressed the hope that there would not be any more victims of wildfires. Seven people have been killed fighting fires this summer. The president went on to urge Greeks to take action to protect the environment. «The participation in the struggle to save nature is an ultimate democratic duty for our political system and for every citizen who does not want to just prosper but wants to be happy chasing the dream of a better and more livable world.»

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