Following the completion of the handover ceremony of the Ministry of National Defence by Mr. Fragkoulis Fragkos to Mr. Panos Panaghiotopoulos, the following statements were made:
F. FRAGKOS: I welcome the Minister of National Defence, Mr. Panos Panaghiotopoulos, and the two Deputy Ministers, General Karambelas and Admiral Elefsiniotis, who assume the political leadership of the Ministry of National Defence.
Within the short period of time I had the honour to carry out the duties of caretaker Minister, we strained to address and process major issues of the Ministry, as well as to prepare the dossiers of the important subjects the new Minister will be called to manage without delays.
Our Ministry continues relentlessly its mission, bringing out and accentuating the strength, the deterrence capability, the effectiveness and the efficiency of the country’s Armed Forces.
As I had underlined when I had assumed my duties, no thoughts are made for any possible compromise in matters of national sovereignty, notwithstanding the difficult financial circumstances.
What is lost in matters of national sovereignty can very hardly be retrieved. While in economy, as mister Minister said in his speech, he has a moderate optimism. That must have been the best message for the Greeks.
First priority is to ensure the dignity of the personnel who have experienced very severe salary reductions. Under no circumstances should the spirit and high morale be confused with the requirement for a dignified living for their families.
They had, they have and they will have faith in their duty, high morale and spirit for the entire personnel, the cadres and our recruits, as well as the civilians. No Greek should have doubts on that.
With the conviction that mister Minister shares this stance, since he is in deep knowledge of our national issues, I welcome him once more and wish from the bottom of my heart all the best of luck and success in your duties, mister Minister, being absolutely sure that you shall accomplish and realize it in the best possible way.
Gentlemen, thank you.
P. PANAGIOTOPOULOS: In my turn, I would like to thank the outgoing caretaker Minister of National Defence, who stems from the Armed Forces and has a great career in the Armed Forces, General Fragkoulis Fragkos.
As of today, as head of the political leadership of the Ministry of National Defence, along with the two Deputy Ministers, mister Panayiotis Karambelas and mister Dimitrios Elefsiniotis, we begin a difficult mission.
The framework within which we will operate was specified before. It is a fact that the country goes between Scylla and Charybdis, between the hammer and the anvil. This is the worst financial crisis of the past 100 years.
However, allow me to think that the country has gone between Scylla and Charybdis through its history and has manages to stand still and reconstruct.
In the same way, Greece will find its feet once more. What we should do is to keep operational readiness and the Armed Forces’ morale high. Keep the country safe and stable as far as national sovereignty and national security are concerned, in order to quickly find our way to the top again.
I know that the Armed Forces’ personnel, men and women, have made extreme sacrifices with the financial cuts. Under no circumstances should this affect their spirit, their morale, their faith in their duty and mission, nor the Armed Forces’ effectiveness. We shall take care of that.
On the other hand, I assure everyone that the political leadership’s and mine personal interest will be unvarying on how we can restore, in due time, as the country will take its first steps upwards, these black holes that have been created by the horizontal cuts, as well as on how we will be able to support the dignity of men and women in the Armed Forces; and, of course, to also protect and support the dignity of their families.
I would like to point out that I am decided to continue the initiatives undertaken by both mister Fragkos and Dimitris Avramopoulos, who preceded him, concerning the social contribution through the Armed Forces to the Hellenic society, in the borderline regions for example, but also to the families of the male and female personnel of the Armed Forces.
The social character and the social contribution of the Armed Forces will carry on, enhanced.
In any case, I would like to repeat that it is good that the people serving in the Armed Forces know that, as the case was in the previous political leadership, the new political leadership is also comprised of people who love them, who respect them, who admire their mission, who realize their daily sacrifices and who are ready to lean over each of the Armed Forces’ problems and try to find its solution.
I hope that God will give us guidance and strength so that the Government of national salvation, leaded by Antonis Samaras, who has the support of the ‘Nea Demokratia’, ‘PASOK’ and ‘Demokratiki Aristera’ parties and, at the same time, embraces all the Hellenic people, irrespective of what each citizen voted at the elections of June 17th, will be able to accomplish its task.
It is necessary, it is a national stake; one that we must win altogether.
I wish us all a great deal of luck and strength.