Prime Minister Defends Decision Not to Ask for International Assistance during Fires

Total Croatia News

The Prime Minister is criticised for slow reaction to the catastrophic fires around Split.

Prime Minister Plenković arrived in Split this morning when most of the fires around the town have already been extinguished or at least put under control. With the exception of Interior Minister Božinović and Defence Minister Krstičević, who were on the ground since yesterday afternoon, the government mostly stayed silent about yesterday’s events which threatened the second largest town in the country, reports on 18 July 2017.

Plenković said today that the system worked well and that international assistance was not needed. He added that such assessments are made by firefighters in the field. “The fire is being extinguished and localised. This is one of 14 fires that started due to heat, which caused them to spread rapidly. Firefighters did all they could; many arrived from Zagreb and other counties. The solidarity of fire-fighting units at the national level is functioning. I believe that we will learn some lessons from this fire and improve the coordination mechanism of competent services,” said Plenković, thanking Ministers Božinović and Krstičević for coordinating the activities, as well as the Mayor of Split and the Prefect of Split-Dalmatia County.

He said the information about the damage was being collected and that, if necessary, the state of natural disaster would be proclaimed. He declined to talk about the causes of the fires because investigation should be conducted first.

Plenković reiterated that the system worked really well and added that it was good that football fans had given their contribution. “If people want to help, it is important they make a proper contribution,” he said and added that army units did not come too late. “As soon as the Minister received the information that help was needed, he called in the army. Everybody who should have reacted did react,” he said.

The Prime Minister was asked why there was chaos at the beginning and who makes decisions as to which fire is a priority. “The main responders are our fire-fighters, the county commander, and the chief firefighting commander, who also has all the information. They make decisions whether additional engagement is needed. People who want to help should do so, but their activities need to be coordinated by those in charge. It is important no chaotic situations occur,” said Plenković.

According to Plenković, there was no need for international assistance. “I said yesterday that this assessment must be made by fire-fighters in the field. The estimate at this point is such that it is not necessary,” he said. Plenković was asked to comment on Split Mayor Opara’s statement yesterday that the system did not work as it should have; Opara intervened and explained that he never said such thing.

President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović is also expected to arrive in Split later today.


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