Greece has granted citizenship to three migrant fishermen, two Egyptians and an Albanian, who helped rescue dozens of Greeks from sweeping wildfires near Athens last summer, local Greek media reported.
At least 90 people were killed in the devastating fires that struck the Greek resort town of Mati, some 30km east of Athens on 23 July. The inferno was Greece’s deadliest in over a decade.
Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos hosted a ceremony on Wednesday to honour the three men for their "‘humanity and solidarity" in rescuing dozens of people from the sea, the Athens News Agency reported.
The men were identified as Egyptians Mahmoud Mousa, 46, Emad El Khaimi, 50, and Albanian Jake Gani , 35.
The trio sailed out to sea through thick black smoke to pull people who were forced into the water to flee the flames, local media reported at the time.
The president said on Wednesday that their naturalisation as Greek citizens also makes them citizens of Europe.
“You are now European citizens too, and so you can teach all our partners who don’t realise the values of Europe, to do what they ought to do," President Pavlopoulos said, as reported by local Greek newspaper Neo Kosmos.
Pavlopoulos said the fishermen's actions “send a message to Europe … to the formations of populism and xenophobia, who are against the spirit of European humanism and solidarity exemplified by the three fishermen."
The decision to grant the three men citizenship was made by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras in September and signed by the president last month, but formally announced on Wednesday.