Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis visited the forest of Dadia today, where the first assessment of the effects of the recent fire was presented, based on the autopsies that have been carried out and high-resolution satellite images.

Forest restoration steps were also discussed, both at the level of anti-flood – anti-corrosion interventions, and at the level of ecosystem protection, as well as actions to support the area.

After the meeting the Prime Minister made the following statement:

Mr. Mayor, Mr. District Governor, colleagues in the Parliament, dear members of the Armed Forces, the Fire Department, OFYPEKA, I am really sorry to be here today in a very difficult situation, after a very large, very intense, catastrophic fire.

First of all, I want to thank all those who fought during those very difficult days, in the midst of the fire. I am obviously referring to the executives of the Fire Department, but also to the executives of the Local Government, in the fight that OFYPEKA did. I will also make a special mention to our forestry cooperatives, who also entered the forest and I think that if today there is a glimmer of optimism that there are pieces that were saved, it is also due to their own drastic intervention.

Obviously many things need to change and will change in the way we organize forest fire prevention. I don’t want to nullify what happened, because things happened even after last year’s fire. But before last year’s fire, Dadia had been identified as a forest of national, European importance, which we had to protect and the truth is that, unfortunately, We didn’t go as planned. Because we have to be honest and honest with ourselves, so that we can become better.

But there are, at least, some glimmers of optimism. Actually, satellite imagery shows that the damage is not as devastating as first feared. We are talking about a very large amount of damage – I want to be honest with you – but, as you can see from the video, we have several areas that are either unburned or slightly burned. This will help in natural regeneration, so obviously also in the protection of the fauna.

There is a lot of experience from the Organization, but also from the organizations that help and I want to thank them too. I believe that the fauna will be able to survive and recover with whatever help it needs from humans.

What needs to be done from now on, because we can’t turn back time: We have a very good one Forest protection service and very experienced people here in the field and I want to thank them. What I have requested is to quickly – and Vangelis Goudoufas knows this – to prepare all the studies, they have already been marked on the map, so that with the reforestation contractors – that’s what we call it, it’s essentially the first anti-corrosion and anti-flood works interventions – to quickly be able to enter the field to do what we managed to do in Evia.

In Evia, the anti-floods that we made, withstood everything. The forest has already started to regenerate and the picture is probably better than we would have expected two years later. This is simply because we must, as difficult as it is, look at things with relative optimism.

We have mobilized many private contractors, there is a lot of interest. What I would like, Vangelis, is to separate in our minds the projects concerning Dadia from the projects of the rest of the prefectureso that the Nanny’s works to be undertaken by one -exactly because it is Dadia and it is specific- and for the rest we will move – we already have the contractor for Palagia – to be able to make this separation and move very quickly on the immediate projects.

We had the opportunity yesterday to discuss – and this is something that we will see immediately – the overall flood protection of Evrosas it is no stranger to floods and obviously wider interventions need to be made, which require a more integrated central planning.

I also want to dwell on what the Mayor said and I fully recognize, we also discussed it yesterday at length: that sometimes a Municipality very large in area which is all protected can find itself in a disadvantageous position and not in an advantageous position. It is difficult, for example, to do other kinds of development projects, from which the Municipality can have a benefit.

This, Theodori, is something that should also be seen in the context of compensatory measures, from Renewable Energy Sources for example. Perhaps a wider fund should be created, at the District level, just so that we can have some equalization payments to those who cannot in fact be able to access such resources.

Mayor, I said it yesterday, I’m saying it again here: know that we will be close to the Municipality, at all levels. I won’t talk now in detail about our development plans for the next day, but we will do things. But I will particularly focus on what you said: the need to support local professions, Public IEK Logging, for example.

I would really like to make Soufli and Dadia the training center for our new loggers. We will need many more because our vision of forest management requires more presence in the forests.

It is unimaginable today, as a country, 70 million acres of forest cover in the country and we are deficient in wood. We import wood, we are not doing something right and we have to change it. This is just one example.

I also want to emphasize, I will also say it in Alexandroupolis, that beyond it “Evros pass” there will be “Dadia pass”, which will be even more favorable for those who will want to come to Dadia. And to ask the Municipality and OFYPEKA to prepare the new routes – because there are many things that one can still see in the forest – so that the visitors who will come can have the opportunity to see the forest and, yes, to also familiarize themselves with the concept of restoring the forest the next day.

So I will definitely make sure, after all, there are not too many rooms that you have, that there is a preferential treatment so that not everyone comes, because I understand the stress “now everyone will come to the beaches, in Alexandroupoli”. But Evros is not only Alexandroupoli, it is something we have discussed many times. Evros is also Soufli, it is central Evros, Evros is also northern Evros.

But these are the very first, the most immediate things we can do. Like I said, we can’t turn back time. We can only get better and see what we do from here on out. Let me say again that I have great confidence in all those who love and deal with the forest in the area. After all, you lived in the forest and you will live in the forest. I am also referring to the Local Government and our forestry services.

I want to remind you that one of the important reforms that we did in the previous four years was precisely to transfer the forestry services to the Ministry of the Environment, so that there would be a substantial political head, because before you all knew that in the chaos of the decentralized ones they were often headless.

Giorgos Amyras is with us and will remain in the Prime Minister’s office, as my personal advisor, to encourage and urge and support the Ministry and the General Directorate in making sure that these projects run quickly, and that there is a central link with me and he is a man you know well, because he had previously worked together with the Municipality, together with the Region, with which we have a very good cooperation.

We will look ahead with optimism. You should know, Mayor, that for Soufli, but also for Evros, there is no way that the next day will escape my personal interest. So thank you very much again and the work begins now.”