Greece has activated the EU Civil Protection Mechanism, requesting urgent aerial assistance to fight forest fires raging in Alexandroupolis (in the north-east of the country). This was followed by a request for assistance from Albania. Within a few hours, the European Commission's Monitoring and Information Centre (MIC) was able to begin a coordinated EU operation with aerial assets provided by Spain, France and Italy.
"Greece and Albania can count on Europe's support and I would like to personally thank the Member States for their immediate response to a request for assistance," said Commissioner Kristalina Georgieva.
"Spain, France and Italy have given a real-time example of European solidarity. The Monitoring and Information Centre is helping to coordinate the European assistance in the crucial hours and days ahead," she said
Greece has suffered large-scale forest fires in recent days. On 25 August the European Commission’s MIC and the Mechanism’s participating states received a request from Greece for three aerial fire-fighting modules.
The MIC immediately organised an audio-conference with all Member States which have such assets. It was agreed that two aerial modules would be provided by Spain and France, through a project financed by the EU. Moreover, through a cascade scheme, another aircraft will be kept on standby in France for possible deployment in Italy, which is also at high risk of forest fires. This will allow Italy to send one CL415 plane to Albania and afterwards Greece. All the aeroplanes left base today. The MIC is also deploying a civil protection expert to Greece to ensure smooth liaison on the ground between the host authorities, the fire-fighting modules and the MIC.