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President Klaus Iohannis said on Monday that as Romania comes to face civilian emergencies, firefighters' missions will become increasingly difficult and stressed the importance of fostering a culture of prevention among the population.

A ceremony was organized at the Cotroceni Presidential Palace on the occasion of the Firefighters' Day, during which the head of state decorated the battle flag of the General Inspectorate for Emergency Situations (IGSU) and the commanders of the specialized intervention modules that acted in the fires in Greece - Colonel Valentin Florin Pop and Lieutenant-Colonel Alexandru- Adrian Csilik Alexandru. President Iohannis also awarded battle flags to 11 military fire-fighting units.

"I am happy to celebrate together the Firefighters' Day in Romania, a day dedicated to all of you who, with great courage, face daily dangers that put your life in jeopardy to protect and save others. Your contribution to the safety of Romanians has been important in many difficult times throughout history. The present brings however a number of new, specific challenges, and it is our responsibility to find solutions to solve them. Your work is, with each passing year, tied to the amplification of the phenomenon of global warming, which affects all regions of the world. In some areas, extreme weather events and rainfall are becoming more frequent, while other areas are facing waves of extreme heat and drought," the head of state said.

He recalled that the Country's National Defense Strategy highlights that the degradation of the quality of environmental factors and the implicit extension of the effects of climate change can turn into issues of critical importance. " You play, therefore, a strategic role within the national civil protection mechanism. As Romania comes to face civil emergency situations, your missions will become more and more difficult," the president told the firefighters.

Klaus Iohannis pointed out that the catastrophic fires in Greece were a dramatic moment for the Hellenic nation, and Romania sent firefighters equipped with technique and intervention equipment to help out.

"Apart from participating in international mechanisms of mutual support in case of natural disasters, this mission of our firefighters was also a gesture of compassion and support for the Greek people. I congratulate you, therefore, for the great professionalism proven, recognized and appreciated not only by Romanian citizens, but also by Greece and the international community," said the head of state.

President Iohannis specified that a culture of prevention must be fostered among the population, through active and continuous training, so that people know how to react in case of a major emergency.

He also welcomed the involvement of firefighters nationwide in combating the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"The missions of transporting people, samples or protective equipment, of first aid to potentially infected people, decontamination, monitoring and preventive information of the opulation have been a real help in the last year and a half. Through your work, you undoubtedly contribute to boosting the degree of the citizens' trust in the state institutions and authorities whose main objective is to ensure the security of the population," affirmed Iohannis.

According to the Romanian president, continuously developing a highly proficient intervention system, equipped with adequate technique and equipment is necessary in order to manage emergencies quickly and efficiently.

"Increasing the operability of internal and external, military or civilian national crisis prevention and management systems, of inter-institutional cooperation mechanisms, will allow Romania to be better prepared to overcome any potential crises we might face in the future," added Klaus Iohannis.

Colonel Valentin Florin Pop pointed out that the missions in Greece were difficult, and the most important achievement was to inspire the Greek people to believe that they are not alone, to show that they are supported and solidarity exists.

"The missions carried out in Greece were Romania's first international missions that it undertook to extinguish wildfires as a result of the activation of the European Union Civil Protection Mechanism. They were difficult missions in which we were challenged to invest all the fruits of experience and our professional expertise. During all the missions, discipline, tenacity, team spirit, the technical equipment have been the link between our manpower and the accomplishments. However, beyond extinguishing the fires, I believe the most important achievement was to inspire the Greek people to believe that they are not alone, that they are concretely and genuinely supported, that solidarity exists," said Pop.

At the end of the ceremony, also attended by Prime Minister Florin Citu, Interior Minister Lucian Bode, and the head of the Department for Emergency Situations, Raed Arafat, President Iohannis visited an exhibition of technique used by firefighters during interventions. AGERPRES (RO - authors: Florentina Peia, Daniel Florea editor: Claudia Stanescu; EN - editor: Simona Iacob)

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