Let me begin with the self-evident. As prime minister I owe everyone, but above all to the relatives of the victims, a huge APOLOGY, both personally and in the name of all who governed the country over the years. Because, truly, it cannot be that in Greece in 2023, two trains were moving in opposite directions on the same track and no one was any the wiser," Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis wrote in social media posts on Sunday, referring to the tragic rail accident at Tempi that left 57 dead.
Noting that he did not want to repeat platitudes but to "put my thoughts in order", Mitsotakis said: "We cannot, should not and do not want to hide behind human error.
If the telemanagement project had been completed, it would have been practically impossible for this fatal accident to occur.
The fact that the Digital Control System will be fully operational within the next few months is no excuse. It makes my pain even greater that we did not have time to complete it before the misfortune occurred."
The prime minister also gave assurances that justice will investigate swiftly and attribute responsibility, adding that the minister in charge will announce measures within the next few days to immediately improve railroad safety until the electronic systems are completed.
"Now we have a duty to stand by the families of the victims, acknowledging with courage the mistakes of the state," he said.
"But this is also not enough. I will immediately ask the European Commission and friendly nations for their assistance in providing know-how, so that we finally have modern trains. I will fight so that we get additional Community funding in order to carry out the maintenance and quickly upgrade the existing network," he added.
Lastly, the prime minister said, he intends to propose to all the parties to make a commitment that a Special Committee will be set up by the next Parliament that will investigate all that has happened in the Greek railways in the last 20 years, so that the country can finally do all the things that needed to be done and quickly.
"We all know that the railroads of the country are deeply problematic. They are perhaps the extreme expression of a Greece that does become us and which we want to leave behind. I know that many people will remember the phrase of one of my predecessors that 'this is Greece'. But no, it is not only that. There is another Greece out there that gives us hope, faith and strength," Mitsotakis said.
Everyone saw this 'other Greece' after the tragic accident, he noted, in the fire fighters, rescuers and ambulance workers that responded from the first moment, in the doctors and health workers that organised the treatment of the injured, in the army and the police specialists that swiftly carried out the work of identifying the dead so that they could be returned to their mourning families.
"We also saw the face of this better Greece in the passengers who risked their lives to save their fellow passengers. In the Greek women and men that rushed together to give blood and in the young people that protested silently and peacefully, carrying candles…and with a slogan whose truth hurts us all," the prime minister said.
"Personally, I am in politics to change this 'bad country', this old Greece that hurts us. This is my effort every day. Sometimes I succeed and other times I do not. I know well, however, how much better we can make our country if we sweep away the remnants of the past that hold us back. This is the Greece we deserve and for which I will continue to fight," the prime minister concluded, adding:
"I will stop here. Today, on the Sunday of Orthodoxy, we all light a candle in the memory of those that passed so unfairly and prematurely."