Ex-EU commissioner named Greek civil protection minister

Greece appointed its first civil protection minister on Monday in a broad revamp of its civil defense mechanisms following sharp criticism of the government’s response to a spate of devastating wildfires this summer.

The new minister is Christos Stylianides, a former European Commissioner for humanitarian aid and crisis management. During his watch, from 2014 to 2019, the European Union created RescEU, a body tasked with helping to deal with natural disasters.

More than a quarter of a million hectares of pine forests were destroyed in August by blazes that burned for days and forced the evacuation of thousands of people from their homes.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has apologized publicly for delays and breakdowns in the official response to the fires and promised to rectify mistakes.

Stylianides, a Greek Cypriot, served as a member of parliament and government spokesman in two different administrations in his native Cyprus.

It is unusual but not unprecedented for a Cypriot national to serve in a Greek government.

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