Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and President of the Republic Katerina Sakellaropoulou spoke together on Friday about the lessons learned this week after the power outages from the recent severe weather that hit Attica and other parts of the country.
The Greek PM opened up about the issues related to the blackout and the firestorm of complaints and blame that ensued after many hundreds of thousands of households were without power overnight after the storm Medea passed through Greece.
The storm caused a great many trees to fall, cutting off electricity in the suburbs of the Greek capital, while blame was laid at the feet of the distribution network operator (DEDDIE) and local authorities for the lack of oversight in this area.
Widespread recriminations about who is in charge of tree trimming around power lines appeared to be at the center of many of the arguments.
Mitsotakis began the monthly meeting with President Sakellaropoulou by saying “the storm “Medea,” hit Attica with great intensity. I want you to know that every effort is being made to be able to restore electricity as soon as possible.
“I know that there were delays, I fully understand the annoyance and anger of the citizens,” Mitsotakis acknowledged.
Opposition parties in Greece launched an all-out attack against the government over its handling of the blackout chaos following the snowstorm that hit the country earlier in the week.
A total of 8,000 households in the region of Attica remained without power on Thursday morning.
During the worst part of the storm, a total of 70,000 households in Attica and 15,000 in Evia were left without power — and some even without water.
“No one will rest, no one will sleep… We will all remain here, until the last neighborhood of Attica has electricity,” Deputy Civil Protection Minister Nikos Hardalias said late Wednesday.
“Chaos and incompetence”
Opposition parties blamed the government for incompetence and for its shifting the responsibility onto regional authorities or the Hellenic Electricity Distribution Network Operator (DEDDIE).
They called on PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis to assume responsibility for the problems that occurred.
“The chaos and the ‘executive’ incompetence bear the Prime Minister’s signature,” said main opposition SYRIZA-Progressive Alliance in an announcement on Thursday.
The main opposition party stated that there are households that have been without electricity for four consecutive days, while Mitsotakis expressed “irritation” at the “ping-pong of responsibilities” between officials.
The citizens, SYRIZA added, are paying the price for “the Prime Minister’s ping-pong between carelessness and incompetence.”
“Must become better in the future”
During Friday’s talk with the Greek President, the PM acknowledged “We will also correct and become better in the future to deal with such phenomena preventively, but also in retrospect. I estimate that by the end of the day the electricity supply will have been restored in the last areas that were affected by the bad weather.”
“But you should know,” he added, “that especially in areas in Dionysos and Ekali, we had to rebuild the electricity network from the beginning. The damage was so great that so many trees fell.
“In any case, we must become better at how we deal with these phenomena in the future. It is clear and well known to you that there is an annoying overlap of responsibilities between different government agencies,” he admitted.
“My personal commitment even before the severe weather hit was that this issue must be resolved within a framework law for what we call multi-level governance, so that everyone knows where their responsibilities begin and end, so that there can be a corresponding accountability.”