Letter to the leaders of the party-members of Socialist International
In the past few days, the whole world has witnessed the tragic events that have unfolded in Greece as uncontrolled fires have destroyed forests, wildlife, livelihoods, and, most unfortunately, have cost human lives. As my country faces the biggest disaster since World War II, I take the liberty to write to you about the unprecedented extent of the damage Greece has suffered. To date, we have 63 confirmed casualties and the devastation of over 2.5 million acres (or 12% of the country’s total forest land).
The first tragic conclusion we can draw is that the effects of climate change are already upon us – sooner than we expected. The fires and floods that have raged across Europe and the hurricanes that have wreaked havoc in the Americas this summer reinforce this urgency of the situation.
Greece will now become a measure of the threat lying before us. Following the forthcoming national elections of September 16th, it is my hope that Greece will also become an example of what can be done to reverse disaster. Our government will be faced with no small challenge. We will have to rebuild the social fabric of devastated areas, repair the damage done to our natural environment, and restore our country’s international standing. Dear comrades, in facing this task, I count upon you.
At this time of loss and grief, we are all heartened by the gestures of international solidarity, both by means of fire-fighting instruments and financial assistance to the afflicted population. To everyone who has stood by us, to all of you, I thank you, also on behalf of the Greek people.
Unfortunately, while the world is standing by us, our government has failed its responsibilities, attributing the fires to arsonists, political extremists, and even “asymmetric threats”. There is no evidence to back up these claims, which are simply geared towards the upcoming elections. Greece was, is and will be a safe country.
Greece held one of the safest Olympic Games in history. The destruction of much of the site of ancient Olympia – a world heritage site but also a world-wide symbol of peace – is a tragedy not just for Greece, but for the world. I am therefore delighted to adopt our Secretary General Luis Ayala’s proposal that a meeting of the Socialist International’s Commission for a Sustainable World Society should be held in Ancient Olympia. Let the birthplace of the Olympic movement and the ideal of Olympic Truce now stand as the place where our movement launches a new political agenda. We must mobilize all our resources and develop mechanisms that will effectively respond to political, environmental, and civil, crises around the world to ensure sustainable progress.
Thank you once again for the solidarity and generous support that you have shown to Greece.
George A. Papandreou”