The Minister of National Defence Panos Kammenos, accompanied by the Chief of the Hellenic National Defence General Staff, Admiral Evangelos Apostolakis HN, the Chief of the Hellenic Army General Staff, Lieutenant General Alkiviadis Stefanis and the Chief of the Hellenic Navy General Staff, Vice Admiral Nikolaos Tsounis HN, attended the official celebration for the Patron Saint of the Hellenic Navy and Merchant Navy, Saint Nicholas, which took place at the Naval Academy in Piraeus.
Then, the Minister of National Defence visited the “AEGEON” Frigate, where he awarded Panos and Athanasios Laskaridis brothers for the grant of four new auxiliary diesel generators for the vessel.
The Minister of National Defence, in his address, stated the following:
“This day, here in Piraeus, in the presence of the Mayor and the Deputy Regional Prefect of the country’s largest port, we are honoring with Christian resignation the Patron Saint of the Hellenic Navy and the Merchant Navy, Saint Nicholas, whose figure lives with and protects our seamen overseas under all the difficulties they are experiencing.
Today’s feast highlights the timeless link between Hellenism and Orthodoxy and makes us recall historical events that symbolize our country’s identification with the Hellenic Navy that has never struck its Flags. Besides, our history is directly linked to the development of naval power, fact that is also confirmed by Themistocles’ famous quote: “We have land and home when we have ships at sea”.
The sea is the dominant element and the link in the chain joining our coasts and thousands of islands, where the Hellenes live, evolve and make progress for years. Our Country’s geographical location determined its historical course and its naval footprint over the centuries, nurturing generations of heroes.
Heroes from the era of Salamis fighters, the captains of fire ships in 1821, the naval battles of the Balkan Wars and the liberation of Aegean Islands, the struggles for freedom in 1940, but also modern heroes, such as those who fell heroically in Cyprus during the Turkish invasion and the ever-present guardians of today of Greek seas, the personnel of the Hellenic Navy.
We keep on producing heroes. In peacetime, the Hellenic Navy, along with the Armed Forces, keeps on acting under conditions of war.
For this reason, Greek people have every reason to be proud of the Hellenic Navy that has lived up, still lives up and will live up to the expectations of Hellenism and especially, in the present times that the importance of the Greek geopolitical space is maximized.
Moreover, we are honoring today our Merchant Navy that is present in all seas on earth and is intrinsically linked not only to our history, but also to our prosperity, security and existence as a Nation. The engineers, the crews of the Hellenic Merchant Navy, the Greek fishermen.
The officers, NCOs and seamen of the Hellenic Navy and the personnel of our Merchant Navy, honoring our Flag, have offered and many times offer their life, being an example of complete dedication and self-sacrifice to us.
Greek warships and the personnel of the Merchant Navy are the cornerstone of the development of Greece’s strategy, since they constitute the country’s undisputable comparable and strategic advantage.
Greece, in recent years, by means of its defence policy, builds a pillar of stability in the area of the Balkans and South-Eastern Mediterranean Sea, in cooperation with Cyprus and other countries in the region, such as Egypt, Israel, Jordan, United Arab Emirates, to the south.
The fact that our country has become an important energy hub, but also a power generator, in cooperation with the above partners, will be the driving force for our economy’s growth and forces us to retain a powerful Navy, in order to guarantee our sovereignty rights and ensure safety and security in the region.
This has been clearly demonstrated by the recent presence of our two frigates “Salamis” and “Nikiforos Fokas” in the sensitive region of the South-Eastern Mediterranean Sea for the protection of the country’s EEZ.
For this reason, and in recognition of the battleworthiness of all our Navy’s Units, I would like to publicly congratulate the Leadership of the Hellenic Navy, but also the crews of these two warships that successfully carried out the mission assigned, honoring once again the Hellenic Navy, and sent a strong message of deterrence in all directions.
In a short time, our Navy’s area of responsibility will become larger. Therefore, the Fleet’s material needs will also grow respectively, as the Chief of the Hellenic Navy has said.
As regards the Armed Forces, the year 2019 has been declared the year of contribution to the Society.
However, especially for the Hellenic Navy, the year 2019 is the time to launch the major effort to reinforce the Fleet. The country and the State will contribute from the short supplies of Greek citizens as much as they can. Now we have the need for great donors and benefactors to our Country.
I urge the Greek ship-owners, but I also urge all Greek citizens, to contribute to this national effort from their short supplies as of 1.1.2019 that the account will be opened for the reinforcement of the Fleet, for the purpose of acquiring new frigates and a flagship. I will be the first to deposit my salary to this effort and I urge you all to aid the Fleet for 2019.
As a Nation, we have always wanted peace, but we also deal with any threat with determination, with the personnel of our Armed Forces being the most valuable and powerful weapon.
Men and Women of the Hellenic Navy,
I would also like to congratulate you for the significant contribution of the Hellenic Navy to the Society, which along with the Hellenic Army and the Air Force, strengthen the morale of people living in our outermost islands, assisting them in any way whatsoever where necessary.
As worthy descendants of the Hellenic Naval History of Greece, possessing high morale and vigilance, with hard work and organization, in honor of all those who have sacrificed themselves, I call upon you to continue your important task.
I wish you all the best forever. May Saint Nicholas give you health and family happiness and by blowing a fair wind, protect you all in the seas of the Aegean, the oceans where the personnel of our merchant navy travels, your families and your homes.
Now the time has come for the Nation to claim its due.
I would like to assure all Greek people that we are determined not to budge an inch as regards our territorial sovereignty.
The Hellenic Navy will never strike its Flags”.