As the fire season draws near, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis announced that the government would be channeling some 2 billion euros into its civil protection mechanism.

Speaking during an event on innovation and natural disasters organized by JTI Hellas in collaboration with the Embassy of Japan in Greece as part of the “2024 Greece – Japan Year of Culture and Tourism”, Mitsotakis underlined the importance of incorporating new technologies into natural disaster management.

“The Greek government is going to invest in the coming years more than 2 billion euros, mainly European funds, to strengthen civil protection infrastructure,” he said.

Greek PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis the JTI Hellas event.

Last year, the northern Greece Evros region suffered the largest fire recorded in Europe. The blaze, which burned for weeks, destroyed a forested area roughly the size of New York City, including the Natura-protected Dadia Forest, one of Europe’s most important bird habitats. Floods later that summer also took a heavy toll.

“We all know that climate change is a harsh reality. Last summer was a very difficult summer for Greece, both in terms of the number of forest fires and their intensity. We’ve faced flooding and it’s critical that we work together and leverage the best that technology has to offer in order to save lives, protect livelihoods, and make our communities more resilient,” said Mitsotakis.

During the event, the PM said an early detection and alarm system would be installed in the forest of Xanthi as part of efforts to protect woodland in or near urban settings. At the same time, the JTI Foundation said it would be donating firefighting equipment to the Municipality of Xanthi and its fire department.

Greece and Japan were scheduled to sign a Memorandum of Cooperation which among others foresees the exchange of knowhow on civil protection.