The Minister of National Defence, Panos Kammenos, accompanied by the Chief HAGS, Lieutenant General Alkiviadis Stefanis, visited the Sacred City of Messolonghi. He met with the Mayor of Messolonghi, Nikolaos Karapanos, with whom he co-signed the Memorandum of Cooperation and Understanding between the Ministry of National Defence and the Municipality of Messolonghi on the accommodation of the Greek War of Independence Experiential Museum on the premises of the 2/39 Evzone Regiment.
The Minister of National Defence, in his address, stated amongst others the following:
“We are here today, with the Chief of the Hellenic Army General Staff, Lieutenant General Alkiviadis Stefanis, on the occasion of the celebration of the Armed Forces day that is such an important day for our country.
I should particularly like to thank the local authorities, the citizens of Messolonghi and the Hellenic Police and Coast Guard authorities for honouring us with their presence here today.
I have known the Mayor of Messolonghi personally for many years and we have a common pathway. When the issue with regard to the development of the camp was brought about, we decided not to work in the full glare of publicity, but to start on the Armed Forces Day with the announcement of the beginning of a great project that Messolonghi deserves.
As a Minister of National Defence, I had the opportunity to visit many places around Greece and in particular, border regions, our islands, our barren islands, Evros, Macedonia, Thrace, Epirus…but it is different to be in the heart of Greece. Because the Sacred City of Messolonghi is the heart of our country. This is where the Greek War of Independence began; there are still the glorious and honored Sacred Banners of our country and the Armed Forces here, because the Armed Forces emerged from inside the Greek people, from the organized resistance of the Greek people.
So, we chose to be here today, this day of the Presentation of Virgin Mary and the Armed Forces Day.
The 2/39 Evzone Regiment is probably one of the few units that do not belong to the Ministry of National Defence, but to the President of the Hellenic Republic. I met with him today and I have asked for his permission – I bring his greetings to you, along with his full support in what we are about to announce – in order to be able to revive the Sacred City of Messolonghi. So that all students around Greece would be able to form part of the Nation’s History that begins from this place. This will take place in cooperation with the Municipality, the local authorities and the military command at Messolonghi camp.
We will plan the future together and we will start – with small but serious steps – to create the largest centre in Greece: a living War Museum, a Historical Museum – the first interactive Museum in the Southeastern Mediterranean Sea, which will be accessible to all primary and secondary schools of Greece.
At the same time, by means of material to be collected by all services – the Army, the Air Force and the Navy – an Interactive Information Centre about the History of the Armed Forces since the sacred days of Messolonghi’s resistance to date will be created.
The 2/39 Evzone Regiment was formed on 23 December 1913. It participated in all wars of the last century, leaving permanent marks both in our recent history and in our hearts. The Regiment is especially important for the wider region of Aitoloakarnania, Evrytania, but also the entire Greece, because it is associated with all our Nation’s fights for freedom. It forms part of our recent history, from which we are still acquiring values and learning lessons.
The reorganization of the enlistment – training system for recruits was integrated into the general effort to optimize the performance and operational capability of the Armed Forces, thus ensuring cost saving and the full utilization of human resources, assets and infrastructure.
Now, the training of recruits takes place at field units. In this way, their quicker inclusion to them, the increase of manning and the improvement of their operational readiness are achieved. For forty five days in the training centers, our children were away from the border regions and the limits of operation of the Greek Armed Forces had been exceeded. Therefore, we had to make some decisions. One of them was to relocate the recruit centers from the place where they were situated to border regions.
In this context, the reorganization of the recruit training centers was decided, taking into consideration all parameters that affect them and the adoption of counter actions.
It is a fact that the 2/39 Evzone Regiment will continue to operate, because no-one should close this historical camp nor withdraw the troops and the command. They will remain as they are currently.
Within the framework of the adoption of counter actions for the optimum possible utilization of the camp, with the purpose of promoting the Sacred City of Messolonghi in historical terms and the bonds of the Armed Forces, we have jointly decided with the Municipality to create the “Greek War of Independence Experiential Museum”.
I would especially like to thank the Members of the co-government and I hope for the cooperation of all political forces in order to proceed with this project. It is not a matter of opposition and majority. It is a national matter that unites us. The fostering of historical heritage, the preservation of memory and the honour showed to the heroes, who sacrificed themselves for God and Country, is top priority. As I have pointed out several times, “without a memory, there would be no future”.
Hence, in order to preserve remembrance of our ancestors’ battles, these should be also highlighted through museums in a modern way. History is much more widely perceived, when it is accompanied by a contact with the location and the objects, when its narration is done in an experiential way. The war museums operating in various areas of the country play this key role.
At this point, I would like to explain that our purpose is that the “Greek War of Independence Experiential Museum”, here in the Sacred City of Messolonghi, becomes a place of promotion of the city’s historical importance and its bonds with the Armed Forces; that it forms part of our nation’s recent history for the new generations, so that the eternal flame of freedom would be handed down through generations and the achievements of our heroes would be honoured.
It will not have permanent exhibitions. In other words, there won’t be any exhibits that the schools would be able to visit and then leave. It will be enriched with the most up-to-date means. The entire military archive material will be used, which will be shown in several auditoriums.
Our purpose, in cooperation with Universities, is to have the first 3D museums and auditoriums, where children will not just watch, but will be able to live all these historical events in an interactive way.
Apart from the above audiovisual means, our purpose is that the visit starts – through the exhibits - with the analysis of the Armed Forces history from the Nation’s battles at the time of the Sacred City to this day and extends to tomorrow.
In other words, apart from the presentation of the evolution of the Armed Forces per Corps and Arm, we will also have a development that will be brought about by artificial intelligence. We have already initiated the procedures through the Hellenic Military Academy to also bring Military Academies of allied countries, so that we would be able to show the future of the Armed Forces.
Our intention is that the Museum would be more than just a place for schools to visit. That is a fact. Through this experiential museum, we wish to create the conditions, so that the city of Messolonghi becomes the place of conferences regarding the evolvement of the Armed Forces, the inter-state relations, the history of people.
We would like to have meetings held in Messolonghi and provide the opportunity to Officers and NCOs’ Schools of allied countries to visit the city in the summertime and conduct special seminars involving the Armed Forces and of course, the nations’ battles for Freedom and Democracy.
Therefore, we decided to implement a project, which will be worthy of the history and the citizens of this place and will constitute the beacon of our national heritage and a new cradle of cultural and spiritual development.
This project will start from the camp and will involve the entire city of Messolonghi. Our intention is that the entire Messolonghi livens up, when presentations are held, especially during Anniversaries.
We are open and I am inviting from this place, from Messolonghi, all the universities in the country in cooperation. We wish that Messolonghi, focusing on the camp, becomes a large experiential park, hosting the collections of all war museums of the country from times to times and that events on the occasion of anniversaries of the Nation’s major historical moments are held.
I would like to extend very warm thanks to the Mayor of Messolonghi for his support and assistance. As the Armed Forces, we will allocate the first funds, so that the museum would assume its experiential identity. Exhibits will be transferred from all three Arms, enabling the museum to become attractive to visitors, especially schools, and we will move forward, so that by the end of the following year the plan for the use of new technologies would be concluded.
At this point, I would also like to request for the Region’s active assistance. There are European programmes, through which we would be able to acquire the electronic means to make laser or 3D presentations.
I believe that soon enough we will organize the first major event, where the final presentation of Messolonghi’s Experiential Museum will take place. Of course, the entire city’s infrastructure will be utilized. Our intention is that visitors spend more than just a few hours in Messolonghi. Our intention is that the visit is combined with a seminar, carried out by film projections, so that the visit would last two days and the tourist entities and hotels would come to life. The above will be implemented based on a plan, to be presented soon, along with the economic – technical studies.
Mr. Mayor I would like to thank you for your warm welcome. I would also like to thank the media that will assist with the promotion of this huge effort that, in my opinion, will be a guide to other Greek cities.
Best wishes to all.
Best wishes to our Armed Forces”.