Greece — The Development Ministry on Tuesday night denied accusations that Greece missed out on European Union funds that would have helped it cover the cost of dealing with the aftermath of forest fires that ravaged Chios over the summer because it missed the deadline to apply for the aid.
The ministrys denial was prompted by SYRIZA MEP Nikos Hountis publishing a response to the question he put to Johannes Hahn, the EU commissioner for regional policy.
Hahn said that any applications for financial help from the blocs Solidarity Fund, set up in 2002 to support disaster-stricken regions, have to be submitted within 10 weeks of the first recorded damage.
The Commission has not received an application from Greece about the Chios fires, Hahn told Hountis. The Austrian official said the deadline had expired on October 27.
SYRIZA said the governments failure to submit an application had irreparably exposed the countrys inept coalition.
The fire destroyed 15,000 hectares of vegetation, including many of the islands trademark mastic trees, in August but the ministry said the cost of the damage would have to be the equivalent of 0.6 percent of the countrys gross domestic product or the regional economy would have had to suffer long-term damage.
The ministry said neither of these criteria would have been met and that Greece had had previous applications for aid following fires in 2009 and 2010 turned down by the EU.
The failure was in the forest areas.Advertisement
Following a 10-year strategy, ACT fire managers have created a mosaic across the landscape of different fuel levels, burning at every opportunity.
But forests have been too wet to burn this spring and the past two summers.
A network of 500 fire trails and strategic burns along the north-west urban edge, heavy grazing and extra grass slashing will create a fortress for the territory which forecasters say faces a higher than average risk this summer.
After a fire-fuelled tornado in January 2003 killed four Canberrans and frightened thousands more, CSIRO fire expert Phil Cheney told the subsequent inquiry the fire’s penetration into urban areas under extreme conditions did not reflect a failure of fuel management on the urban interface.