Fighting over the charred ruins

Yet another disaster has become an arena for cheap politicking. PASOK president George Papandreou, in tune with the populism of the electronic media, hastened to issue his own report on who was responsible for the catastrophic fires that have raged in northern and southern Greece over the last few days, even though he did not have all the evidence to hand. He simply followed the eternal, traditional two-party tactic of setting off fireworks that conceal the essence of the problem. That essence can be summarized in the structural problems within the state mechanism, even in the critical sector of fighting forest fires. There is no doubt that the state took its time, as it does in every disaster or other crisis. The same thing happened during the major fires that scorched much of Mount Pendeli in 1998, when PASOK was ruling the country. So the point is that each disaster should serve as a lesson, the starting point of a serious dialogue. That is the only way to cure the many ongoing problems in the system. Every opposition party should point out what is not working properly, instead of attributing blame. It should criticize specific weaknesses in the government’s handling of these issues, rather than condemn it outright. That is the only way the opposition can be be of real use to the country. These accusations flying back and forth between government and opposition every time there is a major disaster are depressing. The exchange of roles after every election result is ridiculous. It is only natural that the political parties’ behavior is a disappointment to people who saw their properties go up in flames. Above all, it is also a guarantee that the next major fire will also be catastrophic, while the state will always be too late.

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