Greece’s Mitsotakis Reshuffles Ministers Following Wildfires
(Bloomberg) -- Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis reshuffled the members of his government on Tuesday following a series of wildfires over the summer that burnt forests and several houses nationwide.
Takis Theodorikakos replaced former Citizen Protection Minister Michalis Chrisochoides and will also be in charge of civil protection until a minister is found for that role, Government Spokesman Ioannis Oikonomou said.
Evangelos Apostolakis, who served as Defense Minister in the government of former Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, had been appointed to the newly-created position of Civil Protection Minister to oversee the country’s firefighting force, but refused to take up the position following criticism from the Syriza party.
Former Health Minister Vasilis Kikilias was replaced by Athanasios Plevris with the government’s focus remaining on tackling the coronavirus pandemic with a record high one-day jump in new cases seen earlier in August. Kikilias becomes tourism minister, replacing Haris Theoharis.
Record-high temperatures combined with strong wind caused a series of blazes, which burnt for more than two weeks, razing a large part of northern Evia, an island close to Athens.
A total of 465.8 square kilometers (179.8 square miles) of forest, agriculture land and settlements were destroyed in Evia, according to Greece’s National Observatory. The smoke from the fires confined Athenians and residents of central Greece in their houses with windows shut for days.
The government faced criticism over the way it handled the crisis. It now has to regroup for the next day with the upcoming flood season expected to be challenging given the large number of trees that were destroyed. The country’s wildfires is the outcome of the climate change crisis, Mitsotakis said earlier in August, calling at the time for measures at a European and global level.
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