The General Secretariat for Civil Protection held an event today to celebrate the Civil Protection Day, in the presence of Professor Prokopis Pavlopoulos, Minister of Interior. This year, the event was dedicated to Volunteers, and, for this reason, according to a Decision by the General Secretary for Civil Protection, prizes were awarded to the Hellenic Rescue Team, the Samaritan Corps of Greece and the Volunteer Fire Protection Team of Kaisariani for their contribution and action. Earlier on, the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation and Eurobank EFG received an award for the substantial assistance and support they have provided and continue to provide in the field of civil protection, in our country.
In his speech, the Minister of Interior referred, among other, to the reorganisation of Civil Protection that is taking place in our country; indeed, he stressed that:
“Improving and strengthening our county’s Civil Protection was our first priority when creating the unified Ministry of Interior. Under the supervision of the General Secretariat for Civil Protection, we are reorganising the relevant Services at a central and decentralised level, we are placing emphasis on training employees and volunteers in a timely manner, we are modernising the institutional framework of operation and we are expanding international cooperation at a bilateral and European Union level, as well as Regional Initiatives.”
In his greeting, Mr Margaritis Mouzas, General Secretary for Civil Protection, said, among other, that:
“At national level, civil protection is a main priority in terms of both planning and implementation. In addition, the experience accumulated to date with respect to disaster management has resulted in a new situation as to the understanding of needs and the promotion of innovative solutions. Therefore, the Ministry of Interior, through the General Secretariat for Civil Protection, places great emphasis on strengthening cooperation with national and international organisations, with the aim of setting up a civil protection mechanism, which one can rely on at every phase of the natural and human-induced disaster management cycle, i.e. prevention, planning, preparedness, response and, most importantly, management of the consequences of the disaster. To date, significant progress has been made as to the internal organisation and effectiveness of the state apparatus at central, regional and local level; however, much remains to be done in order to reach the desired goal, and, unfortunately, it is impossible to estimate how much time we have left. That is why it is necessary to speed up all required actions.
However, no matter how well organised and equipped the state apparatus is, it cannot respond to disasters of any type and size, in every corner of the country, in every emergency situation. In most cases, it is necessary to draw on the support of all resources available in the region, including private sector resources, i.e. organisations or companies, volunteer organisations and individual volunteers. All of us, who are members of the civil protection state apparatus, are well aware of the need to strengthen the mutual relationship between the state and the citizens in order to manage disasters; therefore, we make every possible effort to inform and educate citizens.”
In his speech, Mr E. Chronis, General Manager of the Latsis Group, said that supporting volunteer organisations has always been one of the core priorities of the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation and announced that a One-Day Conference on Volunteer Organisations will be held next May. The aim is to enhance the public dialogue so that volunteer forest protection and firefighting organisations can build a closer relationship with Management and express their opinions.
As is well known, in 2008, the Foundation and Eurobank EFG completed the biggest programme for the support of volunteer Civil Protection teams. As part of this programme, operational equipment was provided to 131 Volunteer Teams of the General Secretariat for Civil Protection in 41 prefectures of the country, and 3,000 uniforms were offered to volunteer firefighters of the Hellenic Fire Service. Moreover, as part of the same programme and in cooperation with WWF, support was provided to 25 volunteer organisations, which are active in regions of the highest environmental value.
The prizes were awarded by Professor Prokopis Pavlopoulos, Minister of Interior, Mr Athanasios Nakos, Deputy Minister of Interior and Mr Margaritis Mouzas, General Secretary for Civil Protection. In addition to the Honorary Distinction, the teams that were awarded a prize also received a laptop and financial support. The event was attended by Lieutenant General A. Kontokostas, Chief of the Hellenic Fire Service, Lieutenant General D. Nikolakopoulos, Chief of the Rural Police, Senior Officials of the Armed Forces and Security Forces, State and Local Government officials and representatives of Volunteer Civil Protection Teams of Attica.