The Prime Minister, Mr. Kyriakos Mitsotakis, visited the Armed Forces Pavilion during the inauguration ceremony of the 84th Thessaloniki International Trade Fair. The Minister of National Defense, Mr. Nikolaos Panagiotopoulos and the military leadership gave a tour of the Pavilion no. 1 to the Prime Minister and informed him about the entire range of the Armed Forces’ contribution activities to the society.
The Prime Minister and the Minister of National Defence were also briefed on the potential and operation of the Air Force’s new assets, that is the OH-58D Kiowa Warrior helicopters and attended a SAR-operational level rappelling.
Then, the Minister of National Defence, Mr. Nikolaos Panagiotopoulos, inaugurated the Ministry of National Defence’s pavilion at the 84th Thessaloniki International Trade Fair, in the presence of the Secretary General, Mr. Antonios Oikonomou and the Chief HNDGS, General Christos Christodoulou, the Chief HAGS, Lieutenant General Georgios Kampas, the Chief HNGS, Vice Admiral Nikolaos Tsounis and the Chief HAFGS, Lieutenant General Georgios Blioumis.
At the inauguration were also present the Deputy Prime Minister, Mr. Panagiotis Pikramenos, members of the Council of Ministers, MPs, representatives from organizations and chambers, officials and Church representatives. The ceremony was also attended by the US Ambassador, Mr. Geoffrey Pyatt, representatives from foreign diplomatic delegations and Defence Attachés from Allied countries and partners.
The Minister of National Defence, Mr. Nikolaos Panagiotopoulos, in his address, mentioned the following:
“It is with great pleasure and honor that we are inaugurating today the Armed Forces pavilion at the 84th Thessaloniki International Trade Fair.
For the fourth consecutive year, the Armed Forces – within the framework of outreach and contribution to the Greek society – are making themselves actively known at the Thessaloniki International Trade Fair, which has been for decades our Country’s most important institution for entrepreneurship and innovation, acting as a meeting point for dozens of economic partners of Greece, the Balkans, Europe and not merely.
In the current uncontrolled, unstable and highly insecure international and regional environment of Southeastern Europe, the presence of the Armed Forces in such a high-level and high-profile economic and business event is of particular importance and sends important messages both inside and outside the country.
The Armed Forces take advantage of the Thessaloniki International Trade Fair’s podium to declare that they are a reliable pillar of stability, security and peace in the wider region. At the same time, they form one of the most significant factors of progress and welfare for Greece and Greek citizens.
They give a strong signal in all directions and to wannabe challengers of Greece’s national and sovereignty rights, that our Country is combat effective, ready and has a great deterrent effect.
Moreover, I would like to emphasize, by making a particular reference thereto, the social role that the Armed Forces play, as well as their contribution to the Greek society over time. Let me assure both you and the Greek people that the Armed Forces are and will continue to be in the future an integral part of the social fabric and a body from the Country’s body. Officers derive from the society and are offering to the society; fact that is universally recognized by all. Therefore, in light of that, 2019 has been designated as the “Year of Armed Forces’ Contribution to Society”.
In this context, we are inaugurating today our pavilion and we aim at highlighting the modern role of the Armed Forces, recalling that our competent members with their attitude over time and their targeted actions for ensuring the protection, security and well-being of Greek citizens are standing always next to them.
Ladies and Gentlemen, your presence here pleases us; it makes us proud and it gives us the strength to carry on with our work. I am speaking as a political chief of the Armed Forces and I am confident that I am speaking on behalf of all Armed Forces’ members.
It has a special meaning for me that from this place, Thessaloniki, from Macedonia, we are forging bonds of friendship and mutual trust with Greek citizens.
From this important business event, we are sending a message of friendship and cooperation to our neighbours and our partners in Europe and in NATO and furthermore, we declare our determination to defend our national and sovereign interests and rights. It is our objective that this outreach of the Armed Forces would be strengthened by other actions as well, such as the organization on our part of the DEFEA International Defence Exhibition in Athens during the summer of 2020.
This year’s honoured guest country is India; a rapidly growing and economically strong country, with whom we are united by friendly links. India is a future superpower and according to my personal assessment, a superpower, with which it is worth strengthening our economic and trade links and examining possible prospects for cooperation in areas, such as high technology, innovation, agriculture and tourism, and from this angle, I would like to wish the organizers and representatives of companies participating in the Thessaloniki International Trade Fair all the best in their activities and good and fruitful co-operations. Having participated in trade fairs, I am aware that it is not about the presence here, but about the result, the work and the new contacts and deals that will be concluded and the result that has been achieved as a consequence of the presence in a trade fair.
A lot of work has been done. I would like to congratulate with all my heart all the members of the Armed Forces, but also the fair’s personnel for its assistance with the construction and staffing of this amazing pavilion. It is not an exercise to impress, but rather a solid evidence of what the Armed Forces are able to do; a revelation of their various actions towards the society and a footprint both of their contribution to the society and of their tremendous deterrent force. A lot of work has been done and this is obvious. Congratulations to all persons that have been involved and achieved this result.
I would like to thank the visitors that are honoring us with their trust and that for years now have established our pavilion as one of the hotspots of the Thessaloniki International Trade Fair and to urge all fair’s visitors to visit this pavilion, in order to become acquainted with the work of the Armed Forces and to be briefed by their members on their initiatives and their work.”
The Minister of National Defence had a tour of the Armed Forces’ pavilion, spoke with members, took a flight in the F-16 Block 70/72 simulator, participated in a virtual parachute dropping and a virtual firing in a Leo2Hel digital battle tank.