The Minister of National Defence Panos Kammenos, accompanied by the Chief of Hellenic Navy General Staff Vice Admiral Nikolaos Tsounis HN, visited the Fleet Headquarters at Salamis Naval Base and he was welcomed by the Fleet Commander in Chief Vice Admiral Ioannis Pavlopoulos HN.
He awarded commendations to the crews of "SALAMIS" and "NIKIFOROS FOKAS" Frigates for the flawless execution of their duties, during their recent presence in the South-Eastern Mediterranean.
The Minister of National Defence, accompanied by the Chief of Hellenic Army General Staff Lieutenant General Alkiviadis Stefanis, also visited the Higher Military Command of Interior and Islands, on the occasion of the upcoming Christmas holidays. He was welcomed by the Higher Military Command of Interior and Islands Commander Lieutenant General Nikolaos Manolakos.
The Minister of National Defence, in his address at Salamis Naval Base, stated the following:
“I am especially happy and proud to be with you today, here, at the Fleet Headquarters, the heart of our Hellenic Navy.
The Hellenic Navy, which, over the centuries, has contributed to the maintenance of our national independence, is presented today well-trained, ready for war and dynamically "present", securing the sea borders of the country and our national sovereign rights in the Greek seas.
Our country has managed, through its policy in the Balkans and the Eastern Mediterranean region, to build stability pillars, in cooperation with other countries, like Israel, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates, reinforcing the European defence and security at the same time, and playing an important role in NATO alliance.
The reinforcement of our country's geo-political position stems from the Armed Forces, from all of you, who did not give up, during the crisis years, despite the severe cuts of your wages and despite the budget cuts of the Ministry of National Defence and the Hellenic Navy. You kept the morale high, you adhered to the Hellenic Navy's traditions, you defended our national sovereignty rights and made every Greek proud, as your predecessors did, and as you will train those who follow to do the same; I am sure of that.
At the same time, our country is taking a step to become an important energy crossroad and energy producer, setting strong economy growth perspectives, which oblige us to keep the Hellenic Navy powerful and well-trained, a dominant force both in the Aegean and in the sea zones of our financial interests.
Our Hellenic Navy's area of responsibility will soon expand and our obligations will increase as well.
There is no doubt that the officers, the NCOs, and the seamen of the Hellenic Navy constitute the most powerful weapon. No matter how much we spend for new assets, the only weapon system that cannot be purchased is naval capability, a quality that you were taught by your predecessors and that you will also teach to those who follow.
You make an important national contribution, because due to your efforts, the Hellenic Navy, quite often under adverse conditions, as well as challenges, manages both to fulfil its mission on a daily basis, in the territorial and in international waters, and to achieve its important social work.
A great example are our two frigates which successfully completed their mission and, with their recent presence in the sensitive region of the South-Eastern Mediterranean in order to observe the Turkish activities, defended our national sovereignty rights and our country's Exclusive Economic Zone.
At this point, I would like to convey, with great pleasure and pride, to the Captains and crews of "SALAMIS" and "NIKIFOROS FOKAS" Frigates, the state's gratitude, and to congratulate you on the flawless execution of your mission and to award you a commendation, to honour your national contribution.
I have also been authorised by the Cyprus Defence Minister to thank, congratulate and convey the admiration of Greek-Cypriots for your contribution.
You delivered a strong deterrence message to those daring to call into question the international treaties, the international law and our history. Our Hellenic Navy is present, ready to face any challenge. I want you to know that we are proud of you, all of us and I personally, in my capacity as a political leader, because, through the flawless execution of your duties, you play a fundamental role in guaranteeing defence and conveying a sense of security to the Greek people.
During the time that you were in the sensitive region, I observed the operations from the Operations Center. Along with the Chief and the staff officers, we saw on the screen how important the Hellenic Navy is; how important the naval capability, the pride and the duty are. We proved that we do not retreat and that we are not afraid of anything.
We were observing the ships' blips. One ship at a time from our Hellenic Navy and, all around, tens of ships of Turkey, which challenged you and tried to make you retreat. You did not retreat, not even a millimetre of a mile. You proved the importance of the Hellenic Navy, the meaning of defending the Flag, the national sovereignty and the homeland, principles that the Armed Forces and the Hellenic Navy adhere to, successfully.
I invite you to stick to your mission, with the same courage, zeal, love and enthusiasm, following Thucydides motto "For verily the foundation of victory is courage".
Concluding, I would like to assure you that along with the Hellenic Navy's leadership, we will continue to make every possible effort to improve, through every means possible, both your everyday life and your families' life and we try to fix the injustices of the past.
On the occasion of the Birth of Jesus Christ, I wish to you and your families, from the bottom of my heart, a good health, happiness and welfare. May Saint Nicholas be by your side, in every mission. May he be by the side of your families.
We are proud of you.
Our warmest congratulations".