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Hellenic Republic Ministry of National Defence

Address by the Minister of National Defence,Panos Kammenos, at the Hellenic Navy Events on Psara island

"Today is a very special day. With the help of the Panaghia and the trust of the Greek people, I have been in politics for 30 years. But I can tell you that, should my political career end today, I would be happy for this event. Because this event has tremendous power, a power that is not just about rendering honours to three national heroes, is not just about rendering honours to a heroic island, is not just about the cooperation of the best three sea fighters, fire ship captains, and admirals who bore the brunt of the 1821 struggle. It is about the unity of the nation.

Today, from the "all-black ridge" of Psara, the presence of the Armed Forces and the Hellenic Navy with this event that culminates the series of event «Μέγα το της Θαλάσσης Κράτος» (The rule of the sea is indeed a great matter), the Mayor of Psara, who represents the Psariot men and women, the descendants of the hero fire ship crews of Psara, the Mayor of Hydra, who represents the Hydriot fire ship captains, admirals, and sea fighters, the representative of Spetses and the Spetsiots of Bouboulina and all those who joined forces for the liberation of the nation, gives the message of unity of the nation, the message that, as long as we stand united, we will be undefeated.

As Minister of National Defence, I want to assure you that our Armed Forces, our Officers, NCOs, our National Guardsmen and Enlisted Soldiers, stand ready to deal with any provocation. They have the heart of Miaoulis, the soul of Kanaris, they have the power of Bouboulina. When the Armed Forces are united with the people and have the blessing of the Orthodox faith, any struggle will be a victorious one. The power that gathered on the island today is unbeatable.

We came in the morning with the MP, the Chief of Hellenic National Defence General Staff, and the Chief of Hellenic Navy General Staff and were received by the Frigate captain in the Officers' Mess. At some point, I realised that, in the presence of the captain and the executive officer, the heart of Kanaris, the heart of Miaoulis, and the bones of Bouboulina, we had all gone silent. We had gone silent under the weight of this tremendous concentration of power. Because this is the power of the nation. This is the power, not of the past, but the power of the present and tomorrow.

Greece is a peaceful country, it has sought, seeks, and will always seek peace, but Greece is also a nation that never tolerated the yoke. When the great fire ship captains and admirals started the struggle, as the Mayor correctly said, they did so with ships that transported wheat, which they converted to warships, with which they fought and defeated a huge empire.

We render honours to these heroes, as well as to those whom the nation failed to honour.

Let me remind you of a small story. The story of Matrozos, a great Spetsiot fire ship captain who gave his entire fortune for the nation's struggles. After the revolution and the liberation of our country, Matrozos was in Spetses, in rags and impoverished. The others told him to go find Kanaris, who was then Minister of the Navy, whom he had saved off the coast of Limnos. He did not want to, but was forced to go to the Ministry of the Navy, dressed in rags as he was. At the entrance of the Ministry stood a guard, dressed in a bright uniform, who did not allow him to enter.

"What does a beggar want here?", he asked.

"I want to see Kanaris, my captain, my friend and brother in arms", he replied.

"A ragged beggar like you can not see Kanaris", the guard said.

Matrozos got very angry and replied: "If beggars like me did not shed their blood, captains like you wouldn't bear the crown".

With this, I would like to render honours to the nameless fighters of the nation, many of whom we not only failed to honour, but rather wronged, imprisoned, and exiled.

And I would like to assure you of this effort, without political opportunism – I am not here as a politician, I am here as Minister of National Defence and serve the nation, just like the Armed Forces.

I would like to assure you that, together with the Armed Forces, we are doing everything to honour those who fought in Cyprus and were never honoured during the invasion and occupation of Cyprus, which some called an "exercise under permission", as well as some others who gave their own battle at sea, in Greek airspace, on Greek land.

So, it is a great moment to be with you on the historical island of Psara, which is a symbol of sacrifice and contribution to the nation's freedom, closely connected to the modern history of the Hellenic state, while this year it is also the centre of our Navy's events.

I would like to commit myself on two things. The first is that similar events will take place in Hydra and Spetses as well and, as we promised, at the bicentennial we will have Kanaris' house ready as our Navy's Museum, in a cooperation between the Ministry of National Defence, the Hellenic Navy, and the Municipality of Psara.

Our presence here signifies, on one hand, the state's recognition of the Navy's continuous contribution to the country's defence and, on the other hand, our respect and appreciation of the locals who, in a spirit of true patriotism, struggle every day to protect our national interests.

The Armed Forces, as an integral part of Greek society, stand every day by the border islands and the citizens across the country. Like here, in Psara, through their social contribution.

Our Navy's grand tradition reassures us of our country's future. Because Greece and the sea are closely connected.

The great importance of sea power for the nation's security and survival made the Greeks turn to the sea and made them the most capable seamen in the world. Their contribution was invaluable on the thorny path of the nation to freedom and the creation of the independent Hellenic state and for this we honour today Admirals Kanaris and Miaoulis and Rear Admiral Bouboulina. And, together with the Navy, I would also like to recognise our merchant marine, which is supported by the Coast Guard. The merchant marine which is the best in the world.

Yesterday, the Prime Minister opened the "Posidonia" and, as you well know here in Psara, the power of the merchant marine and the Navy lies not in the funnels, the engines, and the money. The power lies in Greek seamanship. The power is that the sea and the Greeks have been together for centuries. We respect the sea and, at the same time, the sea respects the country.

We are at a moment of growth in our nation's history. Soon, our territorial waters will expand, with the recognition of the EEZ and the exploitation of underwater resources, and our country will transition to a new era.

I hope our children will not live an economic crisis like the one experienced by our generation and our young children. We are coming out of the crisis, thanks to the sacrifices of the Greek people. We are coming out of the economic crisis and, at the same time, Greece becomes a producer of natural gas and, perhaps later, oil. This is due to the fact that our Armed Forces and our Navy stood steadfast, that our personnel, despite great reductions in their income, did not lose their morale, professionalism, and decisiveness, and for that we honour them.

The heroes are here today, thanks to the kind contribution of the National Archaeological Museum, the Historical Archaeological Museum of Ydra, and the Museum of Spetses, whom we thank.

This contribution stresses that the nation's history is part of modern reality. These three great personalities of our naval history fought bravely and boldly for our country.

The least we can do is honour their contribution to the nation, to history, and to the shaping of our civilisation. Their legacy to us is to always fight with everything we have to defend our country and our people's values and our Navy personnel do so, being worthy heirs to Kanaris, Miaoulis, and Bouboulina, as well as to the countless heroes of our people.

With every activity of the Armed Forces we witness, together with the military leadership, the decisiveness and selflessness of our personnel in the performance of their duties, as is also the case in the naval exercise "KATEGIDA 2018" this week.

This makes us proud of the high readiness of the career personnel, the enlisted, and the National Guardsmen, and reassures us of the country's security, especially during this period of great instability in the broader area.

The Armed Forces draw their power from the love of the people to them and the blessing of the Orthodox faith. Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, together with the President of the Republic, is the Defender General Panaghia and this power is unstoppable.

The history, the religion, the symbols, and our values as a nation strengthen the faith and the hope for a better future and I would like to tell you that we have found our path, we are making our country great again, Greece is back. It is back, stronger and more powerful. This blessed country can and must prosper, it owes it to its history and the legacy of the heroes whom we honour today, as well as of all the famous and nameless heroes of the country.

In conclusion, Mr. Mayor, I would like to thank you once again and say that the presence of the three historical war flags and the presence of the representatives of the three islands is very important as a message of unity of the nation, unity of the people and the Armed Forces, with the Church's blessing".