The Minister of National Defence Mr. Nikolaos Panagiotopoulos represented the Government in the ceremony which took place on board of the Floating Naval Museum, “Battleship Georgios Averof”, at Flisvos Marina, for the Anniversary of the Navy’s Anti-junta Movement and the mutiny on “Velos” Destroyer, in May 1973.
The ceremony was attended by the President of the Hellenic Republic Mrs. Katerina Sakellaropoulou, the Speaker of the Hellenic Parliament Mr. Konstantinos Tasoulas, the Deputy Minister of National Defence Mr. Alkiviadis Stefanis, the Chief/HNDGS General Konstantinos Floros, the Chief/HAFGS Lieutenant General Georgios Blioumis, the Chief/HAGS Lieutenant General Charalambos Laloussis and the Chief/HNGS Vice Admiral Stylianos Petrakis HN, representatives of retired officers and anti-junta associations, as well as representatives of the Local Self-Administration and the Clergy.
The Minister of National Defence Mr. Nikolaos Panagiotopoulos delivered the following speech:
“Your Excellency Madam President of the Hellenic Republic,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Today, 47 years passed, since the movement against the Military Dictatorship (Junta), which remained known in history as the “Navy’s Anti-junta Movement”. A Movement that emerged from the Navy Officers, inspired by their democratic conscience and patriotic legacy.
Besides the many members of the Navy, Army and Air Force members, as well as civilians, participated in this movement and they expressed, by extension, every democratic member of the Armed Forces and the Greek people.
In a well-governed state, the duty, which is the moral obligation, must go hand in hand with the order , which is the legal command. A public official must have no dilemmas between these two principles, because they will just simply have to converge on their core regarding, at least, important issues. Their collision, whenever arises, is an alert sign regarding the state’s and the institutions’ malfunctioning. This pathogenic situation was a frequent phenomenon during the seven-year junta period.
The Armed Forces have faith in Democracy and in their duty towards the Greek people, whose they are an integral part. The participants in the Navy’s movement chose the duty based on what their democratic conscience imposed. This is exactly the lesson learned that we must keep nowadays from that time, no matter how distant it appears.
Your Excellency Madam President,
Allow me to assure you that the faith in duty is the State’s command for the Armed Forces, who are devoted in their mission, as specified by the Constitution.
The legacy of the fighters who participated in the Navy’s Movement is firmly implanted in the conscience of the Armed Forces and for this reason we pay tribute today to all those who, during hard times, did not hesitate to fight for the Country’s prosperity and the defence of Democracy.
The foreign threats for our country are always in existence, as there have been for the thousands of years of our History. This is confirmed every day in our land, sea and air borders. Our eyes, our work, our concentration focus on the challenges arising in our region and we cannot afford any distractions and deviations from our mission.
All our efforts today are directed by our goal to upkeep and reinforce our battleworthy Armed Forces, by enhancing our personnel’s welfare and by upgrading and modernising its materiel, in order for Greece to defend its sovereign rights efficiently.
Concluding, I respectfully pay tribute to all the participants in the Navy’s Movement and I believe that their struggle is a shining beacon both for us and the future generations. Thank you”.
The Chief/HNGS Vice Admiral Stylianos Petrakis HN, made the following address:
‘Madam President of the Hellenic Republic,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Your presence here today, on board of “Averof Battleship”, the ship which has been inextricably linked to the history and destiny of our Nation, is a special honor for the Navy. But it is primarily an indication of honour for the Navy’s members and for the members of the other Armed Forces services, as well as for the ordinary people who participated in the Navy’s movement in 1973.
The Navy’s movement is a top moment of anti-dictatorship action and it is included in the most important moments of the Navy’s modern history. So, it is our obligation, on one hand, to pay tribute to our members’ struggle for the restoration of democracy, and on the other hand, to make it known to recent generations and to preserve it in the Nation’s historical memory.
The movement has typically failed, since it could not achieve its immediate goals. But this failure was in fact a victory, since an important legacy remained. The fact that the movement emerged from the Armed Forces had a huge symbolic meaning. It proved that the regime, which either way did not have society’s acceptance, did not also have the support that it hoped to get in the Armed Forces. Equally important though was the fact that the movement contributed in the preservation of the Armed Forces’ bonds with society and served as a catalyst in the restoration of social cohesion during the years of political changeover.
The movement was a spontaneous initiative, without a clear leadership, by people with different ideological beliefs, still with a common principle, that of free thinking, deep faith in democracy and detest for the regime: famous or less famous people, people with ideals, who were not afraid to put their freedom or their own lives at risk to defend their ideas and values.
For the Navy, the movement constitutes a real summary of its basic components:
-The respect for traditions.
-The democratic spirit.
-The conscious discipline,
-as well as the courage and the expression of opinion.
But above all, the movement is a proof of love for the Country.
All the above constitute a special culture we are proud of and we must protect and spread this culture to the younger members.
The movement emerged from the Navy, but it was not limited to the Navy. It was embraced by officers from other services, by politicians and civilians as well. Today, we pay respect to all those who participated in the movement and we assure them that we acknowledge their contribution and we are inspired of their actions.
Concluding, I would like to especially thank the honorary Fleet Commander in Chief Vice Admiral Gregorios Demestihas for accepting my invitation to be the keynote speaker of today’s ceremony and ask him to take the floor”.