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Award of the "Star of Merit and Honour"
DATE
19 Jun '08

PRESS RELEASE 

19/6/2008

 

The initiatives and actions developed by the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation and Eurobank EFG, in cooperation with the Hellenic Fire Service and the General Secretariat for Civil Protection, were presented today (Thursday, 19 June 2008) during a special event held at Eurobank’s Administration Building, in the presence of Professor Prokopis Pavlopoulos, Minister of Interior, Mr Panagiotis Hinofotis, Mr Athanasios Nakos and Mr Konstantinos Kiltidis, Deputy Ministers and Lieutenant General Athanasios Kontokostas, Chief of the Hellenic Fire Service.

On behalf of the John S. Latsis Foundation and Eurobank, the event was attended by Mrs Henrietta Latsis, President of the Foundation, Ms Marianna Latsis, Vice-Chairwoman of the Board of Directors of Eurobank and Member of the Supervisory Board of the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation, Mr Nikolaos Nanopoulos, CEO of Eurobank, Mr Evangelos Chronis, General Manager of the Latsis Group, as well as by the members of the Bank’s and Foundation’s Management Teams.

In her opening speech, Ms Marianna Latsis reviewed the implementation of the ‘It Is Our Duty’ Programme, aimed at supporting the citizens and rebuilding the regions that were affected by the devastating fires of last August. The total cost of the Programme is 60 million euros, of which 40 million euros come from funds of the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation and 20 million euros from Eurobank. To date, actions valued at 54 million euros in total have been designed and are gradually being implemented in the framework of this Programme. Ms Latsis made special reference to the Hellenic Fire Service and its significant contribution and announced the new Assistance Programme for Firefighters, which is aimed at providing financial support to the spouses and minor children of firefighters, who lost their lives or were severely injured while exercising their duties.

“Enhancing the operational capabilities of the Hellenic Fire Service was always one of the priorities of my father, John Latsis, which culminated in the donation of 10,000,000 dollars in 1983, in order to purchase firefighting aircraft. I honestly feel very moved –and I am sure that all the members of my family feel the same way too– that, 25 years later, we are running, through the Public Benefit Foundation named after him, a new major donation programme, valued at 10,000,000 euros, in order to purchase equipment for the Hellenic Fire Service, a Service that he deeply loved and respected,”

stressed Ms Latsis. She closed her speech by stating that:

“The Hellenic Fire Service paid a high price at this sacrificial altar. The spouses, parents and children of some of the firefighters and pilots, who lost their lives prematurely in an attempt to save human lives and our country’s forests, as well as to salvage the property of their fellow citizens, are among us today. We must never forget them. Our everyday life should not wash away our memories. It is our duty to care for the families of the dearly departed. The Assistance Programme for Firefighters, announced today by the Latsis Public Benefit Foundation and Eurobank, which entered into force on 1 January 2007, is part of the effort to fulfil our duty and assume our responsibility. It is aimed at providing financial support to the spouses and minor children of the firefighters and pilots, who lost their lives, or were severely injured while exercising their duties. Of course, nothing can compensate for the loss of a loved one, and nothing is more valuable than health. However, we choose to take action instead of resigning ourselves to the situation, by designing a programme that concerns the past and the future, and we wish and hope that we will be spared from such tragedies in the future.”

In his speech, Mr Prokopis Pavlopoulos, Minister of Interior, praised the initiative of the John S. Latsis Foundation and Eurobank EFG to design and implement the ‘It Is Our Duty’ Programme. It is a 60 million euro programme aimed at helping those affected by the fires, rebuilding the fire-stricken regions and enhancing the mechanisms for the prevention and management of natural disasters, which is being implemented at a fast pace, in cooperation with the competent Ministries, such as the Ministry of Interior, Local Government, local organisations and Non-Governmental Organisations. According to the Minister:

“In a situation of such an intensity and extent, one cannot but highlight the unprecedented solidarity demonstrated by Greek society; from the smallest to the biggest contribution, a collective effort was made to support and help those affected by the fires. This proves that the tradition of National Benefactors not only continues, but it is reinforced when the country is going through tough times. The praiseworthy initiative of the John S. Latsis Foundation and Eurobank EFG to design and implement the ‘It Is Our Duty’ Programme is part of this tradition. On behalf of the State, I would like to thank the John S. Latsis Foundation and Eurobank EFG for their generous donation, which constitutes a continuation of their long-standing and fruitful cooperation with the State and, in particular, with the Ministry of Interior. This cooperation is based on the principles of social solidarity and sensitivity and has resulted in the faster relief of many of our fellow citizens, who are suffering, as well as in the further protection of parts of everyday life that need additional support. Such actions give substance to the concept of social responsibility and solidarity,”

he stressed.

Lieutenant General Athanasios Kontokostas, Chief of the Hellenic Fire Service, referred to the cooperation with the Hellenic Fire Service and the actions of the ‘It Is Our Duty’ Programme. Specifically, Mr Kontokostas presented the Assistance Programme for Firefighters, which entered into force on 1 January 2007, whose beneficiaries are the spouses and minor children of the victims. Up to the present time, there are 15 beneficiaries, 9 of whom are minor children. The aid includes a lump sum for the spouse of the dearly departed and an annual allowance for each minor child, which will be paid for five years. The kind gesture made by the Latsis Public Benefit Foundation and Eurobank EFG sets a very good example, which should be followed by others and reveals a real intention to help other people.

It should be noted that the 14 million euro donation made to the Hellenic Fire Service and the General Secretariat for Civil Protection will be used in the following ways:

  • To purchase 28 vehicles (firefighting vehicles, ambulances and vehicles for the transport of material);
  • To purchase 2,500 transceivers;
  • To purchase 3,000 individual fire shelters and 3,000 fire uniforms;
  • To purchase fire extinguishing material and firefighting pipes;
  • To construct a new building that will host the firefighting unit in Krestena, Ilia;
  • To purchase a state-of-the-art software system to manage the risk of fire. This system will make it easier to track, at any time, the position of the entire fleet of the Hellenic Fire Service, which includes 2,200 vehicles, and will also make it possible to transmit cartographic and meteorological data;
  • To fund the Assistance Programme for Firefighters aimed at providing relief to the relatives of the victims who died on duty.

At the end of the event, Minister Mr Prokopis Pavlopoulos awarded the highest distinction of the ‘Star of Merit and Honour’ to the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation and Eurobank EFG for the distinguished services and admirable support provided to the Hellenic Fire Service, through the ‘It Is Our Duty’ Programme. Ms Henrietta Latsis accepted the ‘Star of Merit and Honour’ on behalf of the Foundation and Eurobank EFG.

Review of the ‘It Is Our Duty’ Programme

www.inekathikonmas.gr

The ‘It Is Our Duty’ Programme is an independent multidimensional nationwide programme designed and implemented by the John S. Latsis Foundation and Eurobank. To date, the following actions have been implemented:

  • The immediate financial relief of those affected by the fires. This set of initiatives is focused on helping people affected by the fires and boosting the economic activity of fire-stricken regions. More than 7,500 families have directly benefited from this action. The main objective was the final cancellation by Εurobank of debts from loans taken out by people seriously affected by the fire and the boosting of entrepreneurship and employment, by extending bank loans with very favourable terms to thousands of medium-sized entrepreneurs, farmers and stockbreeders in 14 prefectures of the country.
  • In the same direction, in 2007, the Latsis Public Benefit Foundation boosted the income of families affected by the fires and will continue to do so in 2008 as well; indeed, 2,000 families in the Prefecture of Ilia, whose children are studying at one of the country’s Higher Educational Institutes or Technological Educational Institutes, received educational allowances.
  • In order to ensure the long-term growth of regions devastated by the fires, a study carried out by the Ministry of Rural Development and Food and the Agricultural University of Athens was funded regarding the rebuilding of all fire-stricken prefectures of the country. In order for such studies to yield substantial results, an extensive training programme for agronomists from fire-stricken regions is currently running, in cooperation with the Agricultural University of Athens. The agronomists that are participating in the programme will then train thousands of farmers and stockbreeders in alternative farming and standard livestock farming methods.
  • In addition, the Foundation and the Bank announced, evaluated and are funding environmental programmes in 105 fire-stricken municipalities, in 18 prefectures of the country, with the aim of rebuilding the fire-stricken regions and promoting their green growth.
  • They are also co-funding environmental initiatives carried out by more than 160 Volunteer Organisations.
  • Due to the extensive damage caused in the Prefecture of Ilia and, in particular, in Ancient Olympia, a large part of the initiatives are focused on this region. These initiatives include, among many others, the major project for the regeneration of the 50-hectare area surrounding the Museum of Ancient Olympia, the upgrade of the fire protection systems of the Museum as well as of the wider area, the equipment of the new Town Hall of Ancient Olympia, which was inaugurated on 24 March, the enhancement of Olympic Education, through the creation of a special postgraduate programme of studies at the University of Peloponnese, in cooperation with the International Olympic Academy, and the charitable programmes run jointly with the Metropolis of Ilia.
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