Greek PM will still create Civil Protection ministry after candidate rejects job

Greece's Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis speaks during a press conference in Athens, Aug. 12, 2021.
Greece's Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis speaks during a press conference in Athens, Aug. 12, 2021. Copyright AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis
Copyright AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis
By Euronews with AFP
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Greece plans to create a new Civil Protection ministry even after the appointed candidate rejected the role.


Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis will move forward with plans for a new ministry to tackle natural disasters even after the retired admiral appointed to helm it refused the job. 

Evangelos Apostolakis told Greek media he would not accept the new Civil Protection Portfolio, which was created after raging wildfires devastated the country.

Government spokesman Giannis Oikonomou had stressed that "the fire service will be integrated into this ministry" and condemned Apostolakis' refusal.

The retired admiral had been defence minister under the former left-wing Syriza government of Alexis Tsipras.

The Greek government has accused the opposition Syriza party of deliberately blocking the appointment and has reversed its decision to create a civil protection ministry.

"It is lamentable that the opposition has targeted in such a vulgar way a personality who could have symbolised the national consensus," Oikonomou said in a statement.

But the government said they would continue to move forward with the new ministry.

"The Government remains committed to setting up a new Civil Protection Ministry. Mr Apostolakis’s decision does not change these plans," a government spokesman told Euronews.

More than 100,800 hectares of land, as well as houses and businesses, were destroyed by the wildfires in just under three weeks across Greece over the summer.

Thousands of Greek firefighters, assisted by colleagues and equipment sent from other European Union member states, battled more than 580 blazes. The largest fire broke out on the island of Evia, leading to apocalyptic scenes as residents and tourists were forced to evacuate rapidly advancing flames by boat.

The blazes were fuelled by scorching temperatures as the country suffered through its worst heatwave in 30 years.

The government was criticised for its handling of the wildfires — which Mitsotakis has described as the "worst ecological disaster" in decades — as local authorities deplored "insufficient" means to tackle the blazes.

The Greek ministries of Health, Citizen Protection and Tourism were however impacted by a small cabinet reshuffle on Tuesday.

Athanassios Plevris took over from Vassilios Kikilias as the new health minister, while Kikilias will take control of the tourism portfolio.

Panagiotis Theodorikakos, a former minister of interior for Mitsotakis, has been given the citizen protection ministry.

A raft of junior ministers was also unveiled in the ministries of finance, foreign affairs, transport, rural development, and food.

Clarification: This article was clarified to reflect that the Greek government will continue setting up a Civil Protection ministry.

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