"I welcome a serious development, the truce in the Middle East and the release of hostages. It is something that Greek diplomacy sought. The Greek government will continue to talk with all parties as a pillar of stability in our wider region," Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said at the beginning of his speech in the Parliament, presenting the government plan for the reconstruction of Thessaly and Evros.
Turning to the issue of natural disasters, he said that this requires consensus and joint actions.
"Recent experience has shown that the attacks of nature will come one after the other. Most importantly, they will not be exceptional phenomena with a temporary intensity but a more regular danger with an intensity that cannot always be accurately predicted," he said, noting that the problem does not concern Greece alone.
Mitsotakis referred to what happened in Evros and Thessaly and recalled the rainfall rates of storm "Daniel" in relation to those of "Ianos".
"Unfortunately, all this is not accidental. As a result of global warming between 2010 and 2020, extreme weather phenomena increased by 50% globally compared to the previous decade. Unfortunately, the Mediterranean is particularly severely tested. Scientists take it for granted that water temperatures will rise by two degrees on average over the next 15 years. This increases the risk of tropical storms and consequently the risk of hurricanes like the one that hit us in September," he added.
The prime minister said that defence against the climate crisis is a global issue, that the new conditions exceed the resilience of the infrastructure that all countries had until now, and that it is the duty of politics to work out new response measures.
"I will defend the priority given to human life and the work of thousands of government officials and volunteers," Mitsotakis said, while noting that many lives were saved thanks to messages sent via the emergency number 112.
He added that this did not exist in Hawaii and that the state of California implemented it a few weeks ago.
"All this happened in extreme and unprecedented conditions for the country. And eight mental health units are based in Thessaly and are at the disposal of those affected. The disaster also hurt people's souls," he noted.
Speaking about the way state aid works, he reiterated that the mechanism is a breakthrough, adding that significant progress has been made compared to what happened in the past, with automated procedures and disbursements that have progressed relatively quickly. "We have disbursed 120 million euros in record time," he pointed out.
The restoration of damages will exceed 3.3 billion euros, mainly with EU funds, but the state budget will also need to be supported by the growth surplus and the higher revenues brought by the policy the government has adopted, the premier said.
"We are doubling the state aid funds for an immediate response to natural disasters in the budget," Mitsotakis stated.
The prime minister also said that, so far, all damages have been compensated. "However, the state's resources are not inexhaustible. From now on we all have to participate. From 2024, businesses with a turnover of more than 2 million euros must be insured against earthquakes, fires and floods. We encourage citizens to do the same by providing an ENFIA discount. We cannot close our eyes to the fact that we live in an earthquake-prone country and are vulnerable to fires and floods."
Regarding the climate crisis, he said: "Our country is a leader in dealing with the climate crisis with regard to reducing carbon dioxide emissions, mainly with the aggressive participation of RES. It is also important for Europe to be the first climate-neutral continent. Adapting to new extreme weather events is an absolute priority. I will listen carefully to the opposition. It is easy to ask but sometimes you have to answer. I promise that if your proposal goes beyond slogans and is realistic I am ready to incorporate it into our own plan. This problem has neither party nor colour," the Greek premier emphasised, concluding his speech in Parliament.