The Deputy Minister of National Defence, Alkiviadis Stefanis, participated as honorary guest at the celebrations organized by the Government of the Republic of Korea from 10 till 13 November 2020, on the occasion of the 70th Anniversary of the beginning of the Korean War.
Despite the dire conditions at global level, the travel restrictions and the austere health controls, the Deputy Minister of National Defence represented Greece – one of the twenty two Sending States at the Korean War – so as to pay tribute to the 196 Greek fallen heroes, as well as to the entire Greek Expeditionary Force.
He attended the celebrations in the city of Busan – the country’s provisional capital during the war – where he delivered the keynote speech at the International Conference of UN Sending States on Veterans’ Issues, as well as in Seoul.
The Deputy Minister of National Defence was warmly welcomed by the organizers, the delegates of the Government of the Republic of Korea, and the delegates of the other Sending States. The Prime Minister of the Republic of Korea, Chung Sye-kyun, at a private meeting the two men had, thanked him expressing his pleasure on account of the presence of Greece, and the Greek Government, at the celebrations, as well as at the ceremony that took place at the UN Memorial Cemetery in Busan.
He also met with his counterpart Park Jae-min, the Minister of Patriots and Veterans Affairs Park Sam-Duck, the co-Chairman of the 70th Anniversary of the Korean War Commemoration Committee Kim Eun-gi, the Mayor of Busan Byeon Sung-wan, his Eminence the Metropolitan of Korea Mr. Amvrosios, the management of the Daewoo Shipping and Marine Engineer Shipyard (DSME), Greek businessmen, as well as prominent members of the Greek community, active in the Republic of Korea.
Finally, he went to the Demilitarized Zone of the Korean peninsula, accompanied by the Deputy Commander UN Command Vice Admiral Stuart Mayer, where he was briefed on the latest developments of the UN Command mission in the entire Demilitarized Zone, and the Joint Security Area in particular.
In the course of his visit, the Deputy Minister of National Defence was accompanied by the Ambassador of Greece to the Republic of Korea, Ms Ifigeneia Kontoleontos.
In the speech he delivered at the “International Conference of UN Sending States in Veterans’ Issues”, he stated – among other things – the following:
“This year, we honour the 70th Anniversary of the beginning of the Korean War.
Seventy years ago, responding to a call made by the United Nations, Greece raised its flag among the twenty two Allies who sent military personnel, air and land forces, to take part in the Korean War.
Today, besides the people who sacrificed their life, we also honour the veterans, those who are the living evidence of the solidarity and cooperation for the protection of the principles of Freedom, Peace and Democracy.
On behalf of the Greek Government and the Greek Prime Minister, I would like to convey the feelings of sincere gratitude and respect to all the personnel of all nations who participated in the Korean War, under the auspices of the United Nations, as well as to those who sacrificed their lives in the name of or shared values.
There are no limits when we honour patriots and veterans.
We shall remember and honour the incalculable sacrifices made by those soldiers, through programmes held jointly.
When all is said and done, all we are left with are solidarity and respect; respect, since they put their lives in danger, accepted the challenges, suffered injuries and death.
It is their sacrifices which allow us to live in a safe and peaceful environment”.