Defense Minister Panos Kammenos on Monday defended the government’s response to the deadly wildfires east of Athens that have so far claimed at least 91 lives.
“I cannot think of any other crisis where the prime minister assumed the political responsibility [for the tragedy,], Kammenos, who is also coalition partner, told a press conference in Athens hours after Alexis Tsipras visited the seaside resort of Mati that was worst hit by the fires a week ago.
“The easiest thing during such a crisis would be for [Tsipras] to hide and not show up. The prime minister was there and his stance was consistent,” said Kammenos.
“Everyone of us, each from their own position and personal involvement in this huge tragedy, tries to examine what they could have done better. There is no doubt that all of us could have done better,” he said, adding that people will be held accountable for any mistakes or omissions.
During a visit early Monday morning, Tsipras spent around an hour in Mati and met locals, firefighters and police officers, his office said in a statement.
“Today I visited the place of tragedy,” Tsipras tweeted. “[I have] untold grief but also immense respect for those who fought an uneven battle with the flames,” he said.
His visit was attacked by conservative New Democracy opposition as a “publicity stunt.”
“An entire week passed since the national tragedy before Mr Tsipras could visit Mati like a thief, and in a totally protected environment,” the party said.
“The people, however, are no longer convinced by publicity stunts. They want to know the whole truth as to how so many lives were lost for no reason,” the party said.
“Mr Tsipras must realize that [people] must be held accountable for the mistakes and omissions made on July 23,” it said.