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Δευτέρα, 27 Ιουνίου, 2022

A Country on Fire

By Vasiliki Theodosiou,

“Dance floor on fire”, “hot as fire”, “fire away”, “under fire’. “Under fire”… 8,270 fires were recorded in Greece in 2019 alone. 2021 came to prove that that specific number is not one of the most terrible occurrences that the country has ever seen. And even if one looks at 2021 as a year and the events that have been unfolding throughout it, the conclusions drawn do not appear to be any better.

118 wildfires were reported in the last couple of hours, with the number only set to rise within the next few days. Destroyed properties, injuries, complaints, frustration, and desperation were some of the sad consequences of the fires. The governmental response: the prime minister making a public speech, where he projected his rolled-up sleeves which seems to constitute the only visual indication of him actually attempting to resolve the situation. Because, as reality shows, beyond the outfit styling, there is a clear lack of determination, funding, coordination, and will to declare the country in a state of emergency and accept international aid.

It is truly saddening seeing YouTubers, public figures, and influencers being more effective in assisting the victims than the actual mechanism that was meant to not only assist but also prevent the events from taking such a turn-out in the first place. It is also saddening to see the ministerial funding invested into the police instead of the fire-fighting body, and policemen being sent to fire hotspots instead of firefighters.

Greek Prime Minister, Kiriakos Mitsotakis, delivering a speech about the wildfires in Greece. (Image Source: ERT / NewsIT)

And this projects the contrast of handling a situation amongst the two aforementioned parties. On one hand, you have the maturity of a public figure that opts to use one’s popularity for the sole purpose of helping others. And on the other hand, one sees the immaturity of a body that despite the fact that it bears the responsibility to respond, utterly fails to do so.

Returning to the fire, a word and its connotations and most used expressions, let us borrow the fire on the dance floor image, a rather positive one, and attempt to turn it into a simile allowing us to discretely comment on the situation that Greece has been in for the past 2 years or so. We are talking about a stage that operates as a dance floor, and we have the key actors climbing on it in order to perform their assigned roles. Yet, the numbers show that some of these actors are far from making the effort to even go to the stage.

At the end of the day, maybe it is all about priorities. In such a situation, does one prioritize their need to project control of the situation and thus avoid showing what they perceive as “vulnerability” by declaring a state of emergency? Or does one prioritize the safety of individuals and admit their mistakes and incapacity to handle things?

My understanding is that the answer lies in the morality of the person who is to make this decision. But then again, that might not be the same for everyone. Regardless, it is my firm belief that following human rights, acknowledging mishandlings, and admitting vulnerabilities are meant to be key elements of a decent leadership; because behind the true meaning of this very last word, lies “vision, responsibility, and not power”.

  • BBC News, Greece wildfires spread, causing mass evacuations, Available here
  • Kampouris, N., Greece Has Faced Double the Number of Wildfires in 2019 Compared to 2018, Greek Reporter, Available here
  • The Guardian, Greek prime minister says ‘worst is yet to come’ as wildfires rage around Athens – video, Available here



Vasiliki Theodosiou
Graduate of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki with a specialisation in Linguistics. Former member of the European Youth Parliament and TEDxAUTH. Apart from her linguistic background she also has a musical background as the latter constitutes a field that she is equally fond of.