The President of the Hellenic Republic Katerina Sakellaropoulou visited the Ministry of National Defence, on Tuesday 17 March 2020, and was briefed on all current issues by the political and military leadership.
The President of the Hellenic Republic was received by the Minister of National Defence Mr Nikolaos Panagiotopoulos.
During his address, the Minister stated the following:
“Your Excellency, Madam President of the Hellenic Republic,
It is a great honour and particular pleasure for me to welcome you today at the Ministry of National Defence, for your first visit to a Ministry after the assumption of your duties, a fact which attributes even greater significance to today’s occasion.
Your presence at the place where the National Defence policy is organised and materialised constitutes a recognition and respect for the Armed Forces, which guarantee the well-being and security of the Greek people, daily and throughout the Greek territory, against anyone harbouring evil intentions for their freedom.
The situation currently shaping at an international and regional level is characterised by intense phenomena of instability, volatility and inconsistent balances of power. Greece, due to its geographical position, but also due to the strategic value it holds in the Balkans and the Eastern Mediterranean, stands in a rapidly developing and challenging environment, facing major security challenges.
Especially, the Refugee-Migration Crisis has developed into a time-bomb for the countries receiving refugees and immigrants, directly threatening their internal structures and causing substantial problems regarding its management, even at the level of the European Union.
Moreover, Turkey’s stance pertaining to the said issue – but also to other issues of bilateral relations – is lastingly problematic. However, in the last three weeks, the Turkish side is conducting a blunt extortion against Greece and by extension against the European Union. In its effort to manage the pressure it faces on its borders with Syria, it has driven a great number of immigrants on the borderline with Greece. It strives, on one hand, to receive beneficial returns and support by the European Union in the military operations it is currently conducting in Syria or for its own management of the Refugee Crisis internally and on the other hand, to bear down on our country even more, until it achieves our internal destabilisation.
So Greece is called to reliably and effectively face a number of complex and multidimensional challenges, in a rational way, with strategic composure in the context of international legality, based on the principle of satisfying its national interests and securing its sovereign rights.
To counter these challenges, we have adopted policies which set cooperation as a national priority, along with peace and the emergence of Greece’s role as a security provider in the wider region of Eastern Mediterranean and the Balkans. The contribution of the Armed Forces in the said national effort is materialised through the exercise of constant and multidimensional defence diplomacy, which directly extends to the field of politics.
At the same time, at a national level, we continue our contribution to society by undertaking actions for the relief of citizens from major and unpredictable natural disasters, the management of emergency situations and contribution to society, whenever required, stating to the country’s citizens that the Armed Forces stand by their side. I usually say that the Armed Forces stand by the side of the citizens, because their members come from society.
Regarding the management of the coronavirus pandemic, our Ministry, decisively contributing to the national effort undertaken by the Government, has proceeded to all the necessary measures for the safeguarding of its operational capabilities, the securing of the health of the Armed Forces’ personnel and the prevention of the spread of the virus.
At the same time, utilising our capabilities, we stand ready to provide the appropriate support, if required, to the coordinated actions of other Ministries and we do that on an hourly basis.
As the political leadership of the Armed Forces we have set the goal of their further enhancement and of the absolute upgrade of their deterrent capability. To succeed in our effort, we are following a cautious and calculated strategy, equipped with the internationally acknowledged role of our country, as a pillar of stability and security in the region of Eastern Mediterranean and the Balkans.
Despite the facing challenges, we preserve our combative power and capability at the highest level. I assure you that the Armed Forces will execute their mission fully, whenever and wherever required.
I warmly thank you for your presence at the Ministry of National Defence today and I wish you good health, good luck and resilience in your new duties”.
A detailed briefing of the President of the Hellenic Republic was conducted afterwards, attended by the Deputy Minister of National Defence Mr Alkiviadis Stefanis, the General Secretary Mr Antonios Ikonomou, the Chief of HNDGS General Konstantinos Floros, the Chief of HAFGS Lieutenant General Georgios Blioumis, the Chief of HAGS Lieutenant General Charalambos Lalousis and the Chief of HNGS Vice Admiral Stylianos Petrakis. During the briefing, among other activities, a teleconference was conducted with Surveillance Outpost 1 in Kastanies-Evros, during which a member of the Hellenic Army briefed the President of the Hellenic Republic on the current situation and activity throughout the borderline, stretching within the Outpost’s Zone of Responsibility.