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Greek PM Apologizes for Blizzard Fiasco; Opposition Calls on Him to Resign

Greek PM Mitsotakis Blizzard Fiasco
PM Mitsotakis faces call from the main opposition SYRIZA to resign following the snowstorm fiasco. Credit: PM Press Office

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis offered a “personal and sincere apology” on Wednesday to all citizens trapped on roads and a train during the blizzard that hit Athens and eastern Greece.

Speaking during an emergency cabinet meeting, he acknowledged the insufficient response of the state to the storm and vowed an investigation into the failure of the company managing the Attiki Odos ring road to maintain normal traffic conditions.

He said that the thousands of toll-paying motorists who became trapped on the highway in their cars and trucks during Monday’s blizzard would receive compensation from the company.

Greek PM blames Attiki Odos for blizzard fiasco

“There are very clear responsibilities of the concessionaire for the way that it handled this latest snowstorm. These will be fully investigated based on existing laws but also the terms included in the relevant contracts with the public sector,” Mitsotakis stressed.

The Greek PM noted that private companies that manage critical infrastructure — for not inconsiderable profits — have certain obligations, chief of which is to keep the roads in their care open.

The CEO of Attiki Odos resigned on Tuesday. Vassileios Chalkias offered his resignation after the fiasco and Attikes Diadromes SA, the parent company of Attiki Odos SA, accepted it.

The passengers of Monday’s Athens-Thessaloniki line who experienced difficulties following an accident in Fthiotis and the heavy snowfall caused by the storm Elpis would also be compensated, he said.

In a thinly-disguised criticism of Attica region authorities, the Greek PM said the government would review why traffic was disrupted during the blizzard on key Athens roadways, including Mesogeion Avenue.

While warding off criticism against the newly-established Ministry Climate Crisis and Civil Protection as premature, the prime minister acknowledged the need for better coordination between the state, local administration and other responsible agencies.

Main opposition SYRIZA calls for the resignation of Mitsotakis

Earlier Wednesday, the country’s leftist SYRIZA opposition urged the government to resign over the failures.

“Αfter a two-day ‘silver alert’ for Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis over the chaos he created with his ‘executive management’ state, the least the citizens would expect in today’s cabinet meeting is that he would stop hiding his responsibilities behind attacks on others, even upon the citizens, and ask for resignations (of ministers),” main opposition SYRIZA said in an announcement.

More specifically, SYRIZA demanded the resignations of the government spokesperson Yiannis Economou, Climate Crisis and Civil Protection Minister Christos Stylianides, Infrastructure and Transport Minister Kostas Karamanlis , Environment and Energy Minister Kostas Skrekas, Public Order and Citizen Protection Minister Takis Theodorikakos and and Interior Minister Makis Voridis.

“However, because they are very many and Mitsotakis will be left without a Cabinet, we propose to Mr. Mitsotakis that they all depart together sooner rather than later so that the country can breathe again,” SYRIZA said.

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