Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ attendance at the conference “Advancing Innovation in Dealing with Natural Disasters – Sharing Good Practices: A Proof of Culture”

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis attended in the morning the conference “Advancing Innovation in Dealing with Natural Disasters – Sharing Good Practices: A Proof of Culture”, organized by JTI Hellas in cooperation with the Embassy of Japan in Greece, in the framework of “2024: Japan-Greece Year of Culture and Tourism”.

During the conference, the charitable organization “The JTI Foundation” announced a donation for the fire protection of the suburban forest of Xanthi and equipment of the Fire Department in the city.

The Prime Minister’s remarks follow:

Mr President, Ambassador, dear Chairman, Excellency, mayors, ladies and gentlemen, it’s a real pleasure to be addressing you today in the year that we celebrate 125 years of diplomatic relations between Greece and Japan.

I think it’s fair to say that this year’s anniversary finds our bilateral relationship at its best, following the adoption of the Joint Statement on Strategic Partnership in February 2023 during my visit to Japan. As you know, in 2024, we are also celebrating the year of culture and tourism and exploring how we can further advance our cooperation in these two key areas of our relations.

I would like to congratulate you on organising today’s conference on advancing innovation for dealing with natural disasters, because it gives me an opportunity to address what I consider to be an absolutely crucial area in the bilateral cooperation between Greece and Japan.

We all know that climate change has become a harsh reality. We have suffered intense phenomena. Last summer was a very difficult summer for Greece, both in terms of numbers of wildfires, but also the intensity of wildfires. We suffered floods, and it is absolutely critical to cooperate and to use the best that technology can offer us in order to save human lives, protect livelihoods, and make our communities, as you pointed out, Mr. Chairman, more resilient.

Both our countries are no strangers to natural disasters. Of course, as you pointed out, there is one natural disaster which may have the most devastating consequences of all, and I’m referring to earthquakes, where the know-how of Japan is so significant that it almost forces us to establish a better level of cooperation between Greece and Japan, in order to absorb these best practises and to see how we can use technology, hopefully in the future, to address what could be the “Holy Grail” of disaster prevention, and that is early warning when it comes to earthquakes.

I address particular importance to this event and to the meetings that will take place after the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding. We have our best scientists participating, and I would hope that we establish a strong partnership between the Ministry of Civil Protection and the Japanese government, that will allow us to become even better in this critical area.

I do need to point out that the Greek government is going to be investing over the next years more than two billion euros, primarily of European money, to bolster our civil protection infrastructure. I think this is a very, very important investment because when we talk about climate change, we focus a lot on mitigation, but we don’t focus enough on adaptation. We need to protect our communities, make them more resilient, and of course, use technology to the best of our abilities in order to address what is going to be an increasingly more frequent event that I’m referring to natural disasters, whether it’s floods, wildfires, or earthquakes.

I would particularly like to thank you, Mr. Chairman, for the donation you will be making to the municipality of Xanthi and to its Fire Brigade. It’s a precious gift, especially following last year’s devastating wildfires, which hit the area of northeastern Greece with a particular ferocity, where we lost part of what is one of our most important forests, the forest of Dadia.

I would like to place particular emphasis on this early detection and alert system that we will be installing in the suburban forest of Xanthi. We place particular emphasis on protecting our suburban forests, and I think this investment is going to be invaluable in contributing to its preservation. I’ll be travelling to the region this afternoon, and I’ll be happy to announce the good news.

So thank you again very much for your contribution. And let me stress once more that by working together and learning from each other, we can enhance our resilience against natural disasters.

Looking ahead to this precarious future, both our countries, representing ancient civilizations and ancient wisdom, share the will to continue making valuable contributions and join our forces in this collective effort. Thank you again very much.