'Unacceptable comments': Greek minister dismissed over natural disaster compensation remarks

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By Euronews  with AP, AFP
Greece's government has been criticised for its response to last month's heavy snowstorm.
Greece's government has been criticised for its response to last month's heavy snowstorm.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis

Greece’s agricultural minister has resigned amid political controversy over the country's response to natural disasters.

Footage appeared to show minister Spilios Livanos laughing after a local party official suggested that compensation payments for natural disasters could help win votes.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis had asked Livanos to explain his reaction to the “unacceptable comments".

He “admitted that he should have reacted differently” and offered his resignation, according to a government statement.

The video in question was from a meeting that Livanos attended last week in Sparta, in southern Greece.

The city's mayor — himself a former cabinet official — can be heard stating that the New Democracy party had surprisingly won the 2007 elections by compensating victims of that summer's deadly wildfires.

Livanos appeared to laugh in response and say it would be hard to match that “epic achievement”.

During his visit to Sparta, the former agricultural minister had announced that compensation would be given to Greek farmers who had suffered crop damage from frost.

The conservative government — in power since July 2019 — has been under fire since heavy snowfall last month left thousands of motorists stranded on the Athens ring road and many homes without power for several hours.

While an opposition motion of no-confidence was defeated last week, the video of Livanos has fueled fresh controversy. 

Greece’s next parliamentary election is scheduled for 2023.