“Veterans of World War II,
Veterans of the Hellenic Armed Forces,
We are all here today, the Chief of the Hellenic National Defence General Staff, the Chiefs of the Hellenic Army General Staff, the Hellenic Navy General Staff and the Hellenic Air Force General Staff, the Chief of the Hellenic Coast Guard, the Chief of Hellenic Police, Generals, Admirals, Officers, NCOs and Conscripts, as well as Cadets of the Army, Navy and Air Force Military Academies.
The entire nation is here today, standing before you to honour your combat, your sacrifices and your example.
You are an example; you are the teachers, whom as shiny stars, the Hellenic Armed Forces and the Greek people follow today.
Greek National Guardsmen whose number increased ten times this year, through the participation in exercises, their professionalism and high morale, have joined the force of the country, just as every Greek citizen will join it if necessary.
Because Greek men and women, as you taught us, we are all fighting for our country and faith, for God and country, for our symbols, for our families, for our history.
Respectable Heroes of World War II,
This is a day of honour and remembrance of our historical experience, since survivors of World War II are with us today, who wrote indelible pages of historic heroism together with their deceased fellow warriors.
Inspired by feelings of deep emotion, awe and national pride, we are gathered here today to pay the least due tribute to those who fought in the front rank in modern Greek history.
To those heroes who, remaining loyal to their oath, defended the universal qualities of democracy, law and national ideals who defended the Flags.
To you, who encountered death.
To you, who valued your duty for our land more than anything, even your own life.
To you who defended freedom with virtue and courage.
We are here to honour once more those heroes who sacrificed themselves on the battle fields for freedom in Greece.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
At a time of material eudaemonism, this life attitude classifies you at the highest ranks of modern Greek people’s intellectual leaders; it is a substantial life and not a fake life, a life full of noble ideals which have been shattered over the last years.
This ceremony does not pay the due tribute to the veteran defenders of our national sovereignty and territorial integrity, but it is the tinder to take action and fulfil the due obligations towards you and the future generations.
As Minister of National Defence, I wish to apologise to you who are present as well as to those who “left” before our country performs its duty, for every thing we have neglected to fulfil for you. I would like to apologize on behalf of the entire nation.
Your victories were followed by bad times for Greek history; discord, destruction, a shadow that many times prevented our country from honouring its heroes who fought for it.
This happened in World War II, this happened in Cyprus as well.
A sacred duty for us is to ensure the national property which you bequeathed us and this is why we have committed ourselves to this sacred obligation.
We are trying, over the last three years, with the National Defence General Staff and the General Staffs to pay the due homage to those who fought, regardless of what happened next.
We managed to bring back from Cyprus the remains of Warriors who fought like you for God and country and, because Cyprus is an inseparable part of our nation. Those who fell in Cyprus were not killed in an exercise “following a permission” as described in NATO publications, but they were killed to defend the Greek flag, our nation and land.
This is what we do right now and pretty soon we will have results about the heroes that our homeland “left” on the mountains of Northern Epirus. In cooperation with Albania, committees which have been established have taken care of the return of the heroes. We will welcome them with all due honours like they deserve, as our homeland welcomes the people who gave their blood for it.
Our sacred duty is to ensure the national property you bequeathed us and for this reason we are bound to this sacred obligation.
I would like to assure you, as Minister of National Defence, that the personnel of the Armed Forces, fully conscious of their mission, are decisive safekeepers of our nations’ supreme values and ideals, and they create a high sense of security among Greek people.
I would also like to admit that whenever we are in an international event, in the European Union, NATO, and the Organisation for the Security in Europe we receive the due honour of our allies, as well as of our adversaries thanks to you.
Our allies always acknowledge that, thanks to your sacrifice, we delayed the Axis forces and we won the war. We won the war because a nation like Greece, with scarce means that our country had back then, managed to resist to the Axis and, thus, the war was won.
But it is our adversaries who ask us to convey you their respect. Because Greeks have been always fighting according to the principles, the moral values and regulations which rule a war. We never slaughtered non-belligerent, nor did we disobey the rules of war.
When it was necessary we paid the due tribute to our adversaries. And it is this same military virtue which we inherited from our ancestors and which you ensured during World War II; it is this very military virtue that Armed Forces have today.
And I assure you about this that whoever might take office as Minister of National Defence, he will receive the full respect of both the allies and the previous adversaries abroad.
I would like to conclude by saying that the entire Greek people is much obliged to those whom we honour today; to you.
You taught us that:
Global interests and geopolitical correlations cannot prevail over the international legitimacy.
We will not give in to the law of the power, but to the power of law.
For us, there are only sacred values, history, symbols, and common sacrifices. There are war flags. Our military flags which you bequeathed to younger people and they will bequeath to the modern heroes of the Armed Forces.
I assure you that the Armed Forces’ personnel, our children and our grand-children, your great grant-children, will defend these flags with their lives. Because you are an example for us to follow.
Living and immortal ideas which declare that freedom is not permanent, but it is conquered through Greek people’s constant and tireless efforts.
I wish to assure you that we are already working on the creation of structures for veterans in the Ministry of National Defence. They will operate like the directorates for veterans in every allied country and, thus not only will we pay you the due tribute, but you will also be the ones who will help in planning future action to face any enemy with your knowledge and wisdom.
We acknowledge and honour your sacrifices. We pay homage to the heroes who are not here today.”