“It is a pleasure and honour, being Minister of National Defence with the Alexis Tsipras government, on behalf of the Armed Forces, to be handing over to the people of West Thessaloniki, this camp, a place of memories, glory and martyrdom.
It is a special day especially for the Armed Forces because we know that this camp, which firstly hosted the Hellenic Army in 1912 with the liberation of Thessaloniki, in 1914 became a hospitality camp for the allied forces, in 1930 it was evacuated, during the German occupation the Germans turned it into a place of martyrdom and sacrifice of the fighters of the National Resistance, and, in 1945 the Hellenic Armed Forces reoccupied it . Today the camp is returning to the hands of the Greek people, following strenuous efforts by citizen’s committees, and some Members of the Parliament , who individually fought their noble fights for this aim. The Syriza MPs, the Independent Hellenes MPs, and citizens from other political fields all contributed to this.
Prime-Minister, today 336.000 square meters are handed over, with a view to become one of the biggest metropolitan park in South-East Mediterranean, a lung which will set the example to the rest of Greece and the Mediterranean.
As far as the Armed Forces are concerned, since the program for the exploitation of camps has begun to he benefit of the personnel, allow me to say that this particular camp is not handed over as a kind of favour, or donation by the Armed Forces , as promised in the past.
We thank particularly the Mayor and the City Council, because as a token of recognition and in exchange, the municipality has made available 83 flats which will accommodate the families of Armed Forces members amidst a dire economic crisis.
So, we have on one hand the social offer of the Armed Forces which will continue – rest assured Mr. Mayor because by order of the Prime-Minister – the Armed Forces and especially the Studies and Constructions Unit and the Engineers Service will assist in the transformation of the camp.
Allow me to reassure you that the social work and offer, combined with the simultaneous reinforcement of the Armed Forces personnel will pave the way for future actions.
Finally, I am quite sure that the decision reached by the aforementioned committees and the decision of the Municipality to turn one of the two buildings to a National Resistance Fighters’ Museum, whose voices still echo in these walls, and, the decision to finally establish in Thessaloniki a Pontian and Asia Minor Hellenism Genocide Museum will have our full support.
I suggest, Mr. Mayor, on behalf of the Armed Forces, symbolically , to hold here at the Pavlos Melas Camp all the main festivities for the anniversary of the Pontian Hellenism Genocide.
Thank you “.