Socialist Worker

Greek fires threaten to engulf Tories

Issue No. 2066

The Greek Tory government has been increasingly blamed for what many see as an avoidable tragedy as forest fires continued to rage, killing at least 63 people.

The government has responded to the mood of anger by invoking a “terrorist threat”, and claiming that the fires were all deliberately started.

Yet officials were forced to concede that an anti-fire system around the perimeter of the ancient Olympia stadium—which was singed by fire last weekend—had failed out of sheer neglect.

Around 2,000 protesters took to the streets of Athens on Monday of this week against the government’s policies that have contributed to the spread of the fire.

The protest was organised by the Anti-Capitalist Left group, which is standing in the forthcoming general elections.

Panos Garganas, a parliamentary candidate for the Anti-Capitalist Left in Athens, said, “This is the third time this summer that we’ve faced forest fires. We have had three heatwaves, each time followed by a mass outbreak of fires.

“We have seen the complete collapse of the fire service, which has been unable to cope with the high temperatures and high winds. Villagers have had to gather in the square or their church, awaiting the rescue services.

“People have been asking why hasn’t anyone been sent to help them?

“This is all down to the government’s policy of massive cuts.

“After the 2004 Olympics Greece’s budget had a 6.5 percent deficit, double what’s allowed under the European Union rules, which the government vowed to cut.

“Now the government is in a complete mess and attempting to blame others for its own failings.”

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Tue 28 Aug 2007, 18:17 BST
Issue No. 2066
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