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Statement of the PB of the CC of KKE on the wildfires in Greece

The KKE condemns that the destructive wildfires, that burnt North Eastern and West Attica as well as other regions in the country causing an incalculable ecological destruction, constitute the result of an organised plan. The plans for the utilization of big prime choice tracts of land are being realised, for the change of land use or the maintenance of land use which will be organised in order to yield profits by means of abolishing the popular characteristics of a series of costal sites and other areas. It was a long-lasting crime which was in progress in Attica and other parts of the country and is now on the way of its culmination. It succeeds the big destructions in 2007 in regions like Ilia, Achaia, Messinia, Evia that were also carried out according to a plan. The accountability for those arsons have not been rendered yet.

Among others, the obvious diversionary movements of the arsonists aiming at the dispersal of the fire fighting forces, witness the existence of an organised plan.

Not all residents are equally responsible for the destructive wildfires as it insistently argued in order for the plans as well as the responsibilities of the business groups to be concealed.  When profits and individualism are highlighted as supreme values, then this reactionary ideology is also spread among the people. However, this cannot be equated with the state and governmental responsibility.

The need for the land to become social ownership has been confirmed once again, in order for each worker to have the right to main and even to a secondary residence, beyond the status of buying and selling land, in the framework of the organised structuring, which at the same time ensures all the necessary conditions for water supply, sewerage, free spaces and firebreaks. The fact that huge forest lands are property of monasteries as in the region of Attica is unacceptable.

The forests of north Eastern and Western Attica became the target in order for the tourist groups of enterprises and other big business interests to realise their plans. These criminal interests grow on the basis of the policy that commercialises and privatises forests and mountains. The New Master Plan for Athens, the Special Land Use Plans for Tourism, Industry, Renewable Energy Sources, the Act for Industrial Parks are also at the same direction.

The anti-forest policy of ND and PASOK abets and aids arsonists, since it has dismantled the single public body for the management of the forests, separating provision from repression; likewise the huge shortages in infrastructures, means for fire protection and fire extinction, the lack of planning as well as the general policy that led to the villages’ depopulation.

KKE had repeatedly warned the government and submitted proposals. The government of ND is accountable for the fact that response of the state mechanism to this organised plan against the forests was not an effective and organised one. The heroic action of firemen and residents could not cover the shortages in the coordination of the action of the fire-fighting forces and the shortages of civil protection.  

The plan of the arson and the destruction of the forests could and should have been foreseen in order to take the necessary measures for the protection of the forests, the organisation of the fire extinction and the reduction of the consequences.  

Since August 2007 KKE has submitted a concrete platform of measures for the protection against arsons demanding:  

  • The formation of a single public body for the management of the protection of the forest property having coordinating organs in each prefecture and municipality as well as operational centres.
  • Mechanism for the assessment of the risk in each area and respective planning.
  • Reconstruction and strengthening of the forces of the forestry service, contribution of the fire department to the supervision of dangerous areas with modern technical means.
  • Construction of forest roads and fire-break zones, maintenance of fire-fighting infrastructure, construction of alternative land and sea roads for mass escape.
  • Adequate training of the involved bodies.
  • Reinforcement of the infrastructure and the mechanical means for fire protection.
  • Regular information and training of residents through information programs on the planning for fire protection.
  • Reinforcement of the staff and the infrastructure of the National Health-care System in order to receive patients and protect public health in case of a mass destruction.
  • Surveillance of roads  near forests or roads that lead to the forests
  • Plan for effective protection of the energy infrastructure and electronic communication.

The government is called to account especially after the destructions in 2007: 

  • For the absence of a concrete plan in each municipality and region, for the big shortages in the process and the bodies of coordination.
  • For the non creation of firebreak zones due to the conflict between the various bodies.
  • For delaying to obtain the adequate fire fighting aircrafts from other countries.
  • For the big shortages in permanent and specialised forest firemen and fire fighting equipment.

The excuse that the shortages in equipment and staff have to do with the general lack of money is completely flimsy. It is a political and class oriented choice: although it is certain that fires will break out,  equipment is not provided on time so as to ensure the respective preparation for the fire extinction.

Although there is money, no state budget sets the real popular needs as a priority. Shortages could be dealt with more than efficiently with the funds for the military missions in Afghanistan not to mention the huge funds offered to the capital in many different ways.

In this political economical framework, governments’ civil protection plan named “Xenokratis” proved itself insufficient and incapable to ensure a specialized targeted intervention in each region. At the same time, the view that these shortcomings are due to the lack of Ministry of Environment is a misleading one.

KKE warns the Greek people that the forests cannot be protected without a radical change in policy. Even if all fundamental measures for the reforestation and protection of burned forests are taken, what is actually needed is people’s organized intervention and action for the overthrow of the laws and the programmes of the ND and PASOK governments and generally of the policy in support of ownership and commercialization of the forests and the mountains. 

KKE calls upon the workers, the popular strata to fight for:

  • the ownership of large private areas in the mountains and forests to become public property.
  • the cancellation of anti-forest laws, the Act 998 implemented by the government of ND in 1979 that decharacterised about 2,500,000 ha of forest and identified them as grassland, as well as the law implemented by the government of PASOK in 1987 that declassified about 4,500,000 ha of forests and identified them as pastoral land.
  • the abolishment of the executive law of 2003 that was in line with the Constitution Revision in 2001 and is currently applying the government of the ND. The reforestation must include all burned forests and forestal land, regardless of the ownership status. The land grabbing of forestal land, including the buildings, must be considered illegal.
  • the immediate establishment of a single public body for the protection of the forest lands property giving priority to the formation of coordination bodies, the creation of firebreak zones, the strengthening of fire fighting infrastructure and the permanent firefighting staff hiring.

    KKE demands:    

    1. A complete and substantial record of the damage that has been caused in the burnt areas and family assets.  No change in the use of the land.   

    2. Immediate measures for the protection of the burnt forests from denudation. Technical works to reduce the consequences of floods.     

    3. Total compensation for the destroyed houses of the workers’ families and the rural infrastructure. Compensation for the destroyed agricultural infrastructures.   

    4. Remission from social insurance payments and tax relief, "freezing" of the loan payments for a year.  

    5. A detailed and binding reforestation planning..

    6. Free housing in nearby hotel units for those whose house has been damaged by the fire.   

    7. Immediate coverage of personnel shortages in the fire-fighting service as well as in the forest service and the National Health-Care System.  All staff should be permanent and not seasonal. 

    Once again, the need for popular organization and the significance of popular vigilance and intervention was highlighted. These cannot be substituted by the action of Non Governmental Organizations, they can only be undermined. Definitely, such a popular organization can only exist in conditions when the people have the power, in conditions when the state runs for the people’s interests, when the state is not the people’s enemy. This has been proven and it has brought about substantial results in the former socialist countries we have known.

    However, it is very important to start promoting collective unity, solidarity and popular organization which will be supported by the unions and other massive popular organizations.

    The Political Bureau of the CC salutes the members of KKE and KNE as well as all the other forces that responded to the call of the Party, contributed and participated to the fire extinction, in the safeguarding of forests and parks in the broader area of Athens. The PB urges them to continue being in a state of vigilance and alertness. The forces of the Party must continue to intervene with determination so as to highlight the causes of the destruction of the forests; to show how vital is the need for central planning and development that serves people’s needs, but also to create the conditions and infrastructure that will protect the life of the people as well as the country’s environment. This can only be realised through radical changes in the economy which require the establishment of people’s power.

    Athens, 25th August of 2009

    The PB of the CC of the Communist Party of Greece 


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