The Minister of National Defence Mr Nikolaos Panagiotopoulos attended an event for the presentation of an Album titled: “Dear Greek Women!-Letters from the Albanian Front” which took place at the Armed Forces Officers Club, on Friday 22 November 2019, in the presence of the President of the Hellenic Republic Prokopios Pavlopoulos.
The Deputy Minister of National Defence Alkiviadis Stefanis, the Chief of HNDGS General Christos Christodoulou, the Chief of HAGS Lieutenant General Georgios Kambas, the Chief of HNGS Vice Admiral Nikolaos Tsounis, the Chief of HAFGS Lieutenant General Georgios Blioumis, representatives of political parties, senior members of the Armed and Security Forces, former Chiefs and Deputy Chiefs of the Armed Forces as well as retired Officers of the Armed Forces also attended the event.
The Album was presented by the event’s Coordinator Dr Efpraxia Paschalidou, Ms Aikaterini Daskalaki on behalf of the “Lyceum Club des Femmes Hellenes” and Ms Pigi Kalogerakou from the Army History Directorate. The President of the “Lyceum Club des Femmes Hellenes” Ms Eleni Tsaldari addressed the attendants, while the actor Mr Konstantinos Markoulakis read some abstracts from the Album.
After the event was concluded, the Minister of National Defence made an address, mentioning the following:
“It is a great pleasure to be here, at the Armed Forces Officers Club, in an event to honour the heroes of the Albanian Front, but also as a modicum of acknowledgement and gratitude for the emblematic figures of one of the most important pages of our History.
Today’s event brings to mind those heroic warriors who fought with unparallel courage and self-denial during the Greco-Italian War on the mountains of Epirus, who were spectacularly victorious, thus promoting the greatness of the Greek Nation and Greece.
However, at the same time, it also brings to mind the multidimensional contribution of all the Greek women in the Nation’s great struggles. The mothers, wives, sisters who contributed to the achievement of the great national goals, during the Balkan Wars as well as during the two World Wars of the 20th century. Their contribution in supporting the Greek warriors and in enhancing their war morale was invaluable. They were the “army” of the rear, unknown to military analysts, but so valuable for the final outcome.
The Epic of 1940 constitutes a fundamental chapter in the Nation’s rich historic course. The march of the Greek troops in the Albanian Front and their complete prevalence against stronger forces, at least in terms of weapon systems and numerical advantage, undoubtedly compose a unique world level war success, but mainly leave an indelible mark on the everlasting triumph of heroism, the greatness and never-ending hardiness of the Greek warrior.
Today, during a critical period for our country, the Greek warriors of the past, with the amplitude of their fighting spirit and the strength of their soul, undoubtedly constitute the shining paradigm for the members of the Armed Forces, the modern defenders of our frontiers, our sovereign rights, our national equity.
Today’s international environment is undoubtedly characterised by great uncertainty and instability and furthermore by a rapid increase of security challenges which are especially concentrated in our wider region and I say this wherever I stand. In this environment of fragile stability, Greece plays a substantial regional role, in the context of its participation in European and international organisations, as well as through established bilateral and multilateral cooperations, especially in the field of defence diplomacy.
The Armed Forces, as an integral and energetic part of the modern Greek society, apart from its traditional mission, meaning the defence of the homeland’s national interests, are called to undertake multifaceted actions, in an ever-changing environment and meet the requirements of expanded roles.
This edition, through the presentation of the exceptional archives of the “Lyceum Club des Femmes Hellenes”, everlastingly promotes the war virtue and the combativeness of the Hellenic Armed Forces and contributes to the preservation of the national sentiment. At the same time, it reveals the substantial everlasting role played by the “army” of the rear, as I already mentioned, paying homage to the invaluable contribution of the Greek women in the national effort. So, it is a characteristic representation of the achievements which can possibly arise from the collaboration of combatants and non-combatants, who decidedly surpassed the huge obstacles and wrote another shining page in the recent history of the Greek Nation.
These valuable manuscripts of our heroic ancestors must reach every Greek man and woman. For that reason, with a sense of satisfaction, I should warmly congratulate the contributors of this exquisite evening and of the whole effort in general. They are truly praiseworthy.
I warmly congratulate the “Lyceum Club des Femmes Hellenes” and Mr Athanasios Martinos, a major Greek figure who discreetly supported, as always, this endeavour. Of course, I should particularly mention the Deputy Minister of National Defence Mr Alkiviadis Stefanis, who, with the passion and dedication he demonstrates in every mission he undertakes, made a valuable contribution, so as to accomplish this endeavour.
Ladies and gentlemen, for my closing remarks I will make a more careful observation:
Historically, whenever the Greek nation triumphed, and these triumphs were not rare, three were the basic elements of the national effort: Firstly, firm leadership. In the war of 1940, our leadership prepared the Armed Forces at a military level, so that they could meet the challenge and prevail. Secondly, battle-worthy Armed Forces. Thirdly and mainly, in my opinion, high national collective morale.
So, I ought to raise concern and make us all wonder, in the complex geopolitical state we live in, with probable threats, security challenges, do we collectively have that national morale which will help us, if we need to meet the challenges and prevail as they did in the past? Do we all have it? And if not, how are we going to find it again?
That is my concern and it should be taken under consideration by everybody here and furthermore by numerous people out of this hall. It is a question not easily answered. The only certainty is that it is worth it and so we should make the effort. We must ask ourselves how we are going to collectively find our high national morale. An aspect of this effort, a small beginning, would be to open this Album and read it.
If we do that, I think that we will comprehend and be able to find or rediscover, individually or collectively, this high national morale, which the Nation always needs and especially in particularly hard times”.