The Deputy Minister of National Defence, Alkiviadis Stefanis, attended on Sunday, January 12th 2020, the events for the celebration of the 198th anniversary of the First National Assembly and the Greek Independence at Nea Epidaurus, representing the President of the Greek Government.
The Deputy Minister of National Defence attended the Doxology at the Holy Church of Evangelistria and the memorial service that was held at the central square in New Epidaurus, while he laid a wreath on the commemorative stele of the First National Assembly.
Finally, within the framework of the events, he visited the permanent exhibition of the Greek Parliament on the First National Assembly.
The Deputy Minister of National Defence in his address mentioned the following:
“Representing the Greek Government and conveying the personal greeting of the Prime Minister, I feel particularly honoured and proud of being here today, 2 centuries from the declaration of the Greek Revolution of 1821, in New Epidaurus, a flagship site where on the 20th day of December of 1821, the First National Assembly was convened and on the 1st day of January of 1822 National Independence was declared.
The First National Assembly is a landmark event for Greek history that marked the course of the modern Greek State and made New Epidaurus the reference point for the Hellenes’ desire to adopt democratic and liberal values, but also their intention to establish a State that is governed by the principles of the rule of law.
The imperative need for a single administrative authority for the entire rebellious region, through which the unbound and disparate provinces would be transformed into a single sovereign state, was already clear as of summer 1821, but became urgent after the occupation of Tripolitsa and the subsequent crystallization of the Revolution.
It was only a matter of time before an assembly of representatives of these provinces would be formed, which would no longer be limited to the election of a Parliament, but would officially declare the existence of an independent Greek state and would vote its Constitution.
Within 26 days, a work of utmost importance for the interests of the newborn Greek State was performed.
And it was not just the persons elected to form the central Government or the definition of the state’s military structure, but above all the two main statutes that were produced, namely the “Declaration of Independence” and the “Provisional Regime of Greece” that reflected in the most tangible way the ideals of democracy, liberalism, humanism and solidarity.
Two powerful liberal political documents that embody the fruitful composition of the ideals of the European Enlightenment and the Greek thought over time and highlighted the ambition of the free new Greek state not to rest solely on the laurels of a glorious past, but to serve as a beacon of values and as a driver of humanism, justice, peace and progress.
From the day following the closing of the Assembly, on January 16th 1822, the revolutionaries had an organized state that would oblige enemies, allies and neutrals to recognize it as sovereign and independent.
The First National Assembly constitutes an event of key importance, both for the Struggle for Independence and for the subsequent political history of our country. It is a constituent act of birth of the new Greece and the first in essence collective political act of the struggle that signalled the need for political organization and decision making on the basis of democratic principles and values.
Its importance has been critical for anchoring the idea of a modern, composed, democratic and well-governed state that would allow the Greek nation to survive and prosper, under the principles of a Constitution that echoed the ideological influences and orientations of the Enlightenment and the French Revolution, based on the principles of egalitarianism, freedom of religion, meritocracy, justice, separation of powers and fully respecting the civil and political rights of citizens.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Today, 198 whole years from the First National Assembly, we ought to honour the event, not just as a mere anniversary, but as a national mortgage getting its great message that in fact is a message of optimism, hope and faith, capable of serving as a shining beacon of and a stepping stone to national dignity and aspiring once again the new generations of Hellenes.
We, being here today to honour freedom and the Nation’s history, are the ones who have to defend all that has been won by our ancestors’ labours and unsaid sacrifices, putting flesh on the bones of the vision of Freedom, following centuries of slavery, hardship and oppression and providing eloquent proof that victory crowns only those who have the strength to fight for ideals and values, in unity, togetherness, national solidarity, self-denial and self- sacrifice.
Always inspired by the spirit of solidarity and exemplary democratic organization of the First National Assembly at Epidaurus and guided by the liberal values and provisions of the Declaration, we are called upon today to fulfil our patriotic duty, adhered to the high ideals of freedom and democracy.
We are called upon to put the national interest, the interest of our country and our society before any other individual count, actively serving the values and ideals to which Greece was closely linked as of the first constituent act of its revival and treasuring national solidarity and the maintenance of our deterrent and defence presence.
This should constitute our constant and fundamental centre of gravity; in other words, the main focus and the essential “building block” for all levels of strategic thinking and planning.
That centre of gravity is what distinguishes us as worthy descendants of Great Ancestors, but also worthy defenders of the Country over time, constituting the forefront of our People’s and our Nation’s morale against anyone who is scheming against our borders, our territorial integrity and our national sovereignty.