Programme for the Restoration and Redevelopment of fire-affected Regions "It Is Our Duty"

Programme for the Restoration and Redevelopment of fire-affected Regions "It Is Our Duty"
26 Mar '08

The John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation and Eurobank EFG Βank act on the commitment they made publicly last August, by implementing an extensive national-scale programme for the restoration and rebuilding of our country’s fire-stricken regions. The total budget of the programme, which is entitled "It Is Our Duty", is EUR 60 million. The content of the Programme and its individual actions are presented in detail on the websites of the Foundation and the Bank.

Due to the extensive damage caused in the Prefecture of Ilia and, in particular, in Ancient Olympia, a large part of the initiatives developed in the framework of the Programme are focused on this region. Emphasis was placed on funding the project for the restoration of the vegetation and landscape of the archaeological site as a whole, as well as of the wider area surrounding the New Museum, the Stadium and t/he Altis, the holy grove, of the International Olympic Academy. At a special event held in Ancient Olympia on 24 March, Mr Michalis Liapis, Minister of Culture, awarded the Big Donors prizes to the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation and Eurobank EFG for this initiative.

Mrs Henrietta Latsis, President of the Foundation, received the prize and said that

"We do not deserve prizes and praises, when we are just doing our duty to our country, to the place where we were born and we grew up, to the place we love. My children and I did what we believe my spouse, John Latsis, would have also done.”

Ms Pola Hatzisotiriou, President of Eurobank’s Management Committee for the Programme for Fire-Affected People, received the prize on behalf of Eurobank EFG.

Earlier on, the new Town Hall of Ancient Olympia was inaugurated by Mr Karolos Papoulias, President of the Hellenic Republic, who was proclaimed Honorary Citizen of the Municipality of Ancient Olympia. During the same ceremony, at which Ms Henrietta Latsis was present, the hall of the Municipal Council of the new Town Hall was named ‘John Latsis’, as a sign of gratitude of the Municipal Authority to the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation, which offered all the equipment of the new Town Hall and a fleet of vehicles to ensure the better functioning of the Municipality’s services.

In his greeting, Mr Vangelis Chronis, General Manager of the Latsis Group and member of the Executive Board of the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation, specifically referred to the Programme’s actions that concern Ancient Olympia and the Prefecture of Ilia, namely: (a) the upgrade of the fire protection systems of the Archaeological Museum and the wider area; (b) the enhancement of Olympic Education, through the creation of a special postgraduate programme of studies, upon the initiative of the International Olympic Academy and in cooperation with the University of Peloponnese; (c) the provision of financial aid to all Ilian students from the fire-stricken zones; and (d) the charitable programmes run jointly with the Metropolis of Ilia.

Mr Chronis also announced that:

''Τhe Museum and Archaeological Site of Ancient Olympia will be the subject of the new publication of the series ‘The Cycle of Museums’, which is overseen and funded by the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation and Eurobank every year. The choice had been made before the catastrophic fires, but the value and symbolism of this publication, which will be released next December, now become apparent in an emblematic way, given the current circumstances.''

At the end of his brief greeting, Mr Chronis elaborated on the main action pillars of the ‘It Is Our Duty’ programme as a whole, which is run by the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation and Eurobank and includes, up to the present time, the following initiatives:

  • Initiatives to provide relief to fire-affected people. These include the cancellation of debts from loans taken out by fire-affected people, who have lost a basic asset, the programme for the support of businesses in fire-stricken regions, the provision of financial aid to students and the creation of a Solidarity Fund for Firefighters. It should be noted that more than 7,500 families and businesses in 9 fire-stricken prefectures have already benefited directly from these initiatives.
  • Initiatives aimed at rebuilding the fire-stricken regions. These include funding the national Study for the Rebuilding of Fire-Stricken Prefectures, funding an integrated Programme for the Protection of Forests designed by WWF Greece and the Programme for the Support of fire-stricken municipalities.
  • Initiatives to improve prevention mechanisms. These include enhancing the Hellenic Fire Service and the General Secretariat for Civil Protection, providing equipment to volunteer organisations and working with WWF Hellas to strengthen volunteer environmental organisations.

The Programme reflects the willingness of both the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation and Εurobank EFG to actively participate in the national-scale effort to support fire-affected people and is part of the broader social contribution policy followed, in a consistent manner and with a sense of responsibility, by the Foundation and the Bank, thus continuing the tradition of social sensitivity, solidarity and contribution of their founder, John Latsis.