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Hellenic Republic Ministry of National Defence

Speech of the Minister of National Defence, Panos Kammenos, at a commemoration event for the hero of the national organisation of Cypriot Fighters (EOKA) 1955-1959 Evagoras Pallikarides

 “We are gathered here today to honor the Greek fighter and hero, Evagoras Pallikarides.

We are here together with the relatives of the hero-martyr of EOKA 1955 – 1959.

It is with great honor and awe that I am invited to commemorate Evagoras Pallikarides, the heroic child of Greece and Cyprus, whose action in the national liberation fight of EOKA 1955 – 1959 and prideful attitude towards death demonstrated the greatness of Greece, the greatness of Cypriot Fighters.

Those fighters who were nurtured with the sacred trust from the Nation and our ancestors and are an inspiration to us all for their self-sacrifice. The immortal heroes of the liberation fight of EOKA 1955-59, who suffered greatly and heroically and sacrificed their youth in the sacred altars to defend their birth land that fed them with the history, the struggles, the principles and ideals of the Hellenic Nation.

Evagoras and all fighters of EOKA 1955 – 1959 show us the path to tomorrow, because a Nation that does not honor its history, a Nation that forgets its heroes, is a dead Nation.

Thus, we are all here today, in the long-suffering Cyprus to honor Evagoras Pallikarides, particularly today, while during this memorial a Greek officer and a Greek non-commissioner officer stay prisoners in a maximum security prison in Edirne.

I know that you are all standing by them, because Hellenism sets an example; there are always some “Evagores” who give birth to other “Evagores” and in this way the Nation was able to survive 400 years of slavery.

This Nation can never get enslaved, never kneel, never surrender, and never disappear.

Evagoras Pallikarides loved the Country excessively; he belonged to the prime of Cypriot Hellenism and lived with complete awareness of the necessity to become a martyr for freedom.

Moreover, he was included in the pantheon of heroes of Hellenism and Cyprus and the fact that he was sacrificed so young, continues to be a beacon of boldness and bravery through the ages for our young people, our children. He was, along with other fighters, a living example of the undefeatable Greek soul of the Cypriot people.

While we are young, we sometimes do not understand what it means for an eighteen year old young man to decide to give his life. But when we have a family of our own and our own kids reach the age of Evagoras, then we understand much better what the example of Evagoras Pallikarides and the fighters of EOKA 1955-1959 means.

Our heroes are never obliterated. History and their glory live with them. Their sacrifice shines on next generations to defend great ideals. Because as the poet Kostis Palamas wrote “The Death of a Valiant is not considered Death”.

Those were the fighters of EOKA 1955 – 1959. Those who remind us all that the Freedom of the Country is not a metaphysical concept, an elusive, immaterial and theoretic concept, but it requires sacrifice, such as that of the hero-martyr Evagoras Pallikarides that we are commemorating today.

But it sends us another message: the message of unity of the Hellenism.

Whenever Hellenism was united, whenever it took a stand, whenever egoisms stayed out of the way and “we” remained, this is precisely when we won. Therefore, it is the duty of everyone and in particular, our duty to unite the Greek people.

In democracies, we are able – when we win – to fight again a hundred times, but when the Nation is in danger we are obliged to be united, to get along together and at the same time, not to violate the country’s history.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
I believe that one of our big mistakes all these years about the Cyprus dispute is exactly that we have tried many times to sweep entire aspects of history under the carpet, so that there would be no misunderstandings.

One of the first promises I made when I took office as Minister of National Defence – together with the former Minister of Defence of Cyprus being here today, with whom we have enjoyed excellent cooperation, was that we will pull the carpet up and I am confident that we will continue to do so with the current Minister of Defence.

We will pull the carpet up to restore honor and the good name of heroes, because that is what Evagoras Pallikarides taught us.

I see officers, non-commissioned officers, the leadership of the National Guard, the Hellenic Armed Forces and the Hellenic Contingent in Cyprus present today and I have to express my deepest “apology” for what has happened to date. Because according to some people, those who fell in Cyprus in 1974 have not fallen in a war time period. According to some people, they fell in an “exercise under permission”, as a manual of the major alliance described it. That is a lie. They fell fighting for freedom. They fell fighting for Greece, just like all fighters of EOKA 1955 – 1959.

Following the attempt we made with the Government, which is ongoing, to bring back all those who fought for the country – and at the Makedonitissa Tomb that is going to become a great monument and following the great effort to unearth NORATLAS, to identify the heroes, to dig up history that some people tried to plow under with bulldozers in a hurry – I hope that this summer we will be able to have with us – and the Air Force will do so – all survivors of the Operation “NIKI” who will finally come to Cyprus.

We are gathered here to honor Evagoras Pallikarides and the vision of hope for all and the only objective is the sustainable and workable solution of the Cyprus dispute, always in compliance with UN resolutions, the international and European Law.

We seek a solution; we work for a solution, but we in no case intend to acknowledge the faits accomplis of the invasion and occupation nor bow to the conditions dictated by the conqueror, posing a threat to the survival of Cypriot Hellenism. This should not be expected.

Finally, the solution to the Cyprus dispute will be the operation of Apostolos Andreas Monastery, the freedom of Cyprus, the genuine freedom as the fighters of EOKA of 1955 – 1959 have dreamt of or as Evagoras Pallikarides described it. And of course, this will be achieved as soon as the nation is united. And I would like to assure you that the Greek people and the Hellenic Government, all political parties in Greece stand by the President of the Republic, the Cypriot Government, all political parties of Cyprus and the Cypriot Hellenism.

We are all united; we are all here and Cyprus is not far away for anyone. Whoever dared to say at some point that Cyprus is far away, has been marginalized by the history itself.

Currently, Turkey is going the wrong way again. It is provocative and behaves arrogantly, violating the international law in the wider area. We will face the challenges, being united with a calm mind and determination.

Having a sacred obligation towards the “Martyrs”, who have shed their blood in every inch of this place, we would like to state clearly in every direction that Cyprus is not far away from Greece only, but also from Europe.

Because the huge success of the entry of Cyprus into the European Union is the key to move to tomorrow.

We build up an axis of stability through hard work starting from Greece and Cyprus and extending north towards Bulgaria and Romania and south towards Israel, Egypt, Jordan, and the United Arab Emirates. Both countries of Hellenism are placed at the centre of this axis of stability. This is in essence the guarantee for tomorrow, along with the implementation of the exploitation of our energy resources.

The Mediterranean is on fire. Everybody on the world map has now come to understand that to achieve stability, the Hellenism of Cyprus and metropolitan Greece needs to be supported. That this arc that will be able once again to halt the flows to the West, just like in the past in Salamina, Marathonas and now in the sensitive area of the Mediterranean, should be created.

The glorious and eternal heroes that we, as a Nation, always honor, deserve praise. But also the people of Cyprus deserve praise, who preserve the memory alive and as a Nation, do not forget. We should always form the conditions for the course of national consensus and understanding.

We all bow before the hero, Evagoras Pallikarides. For this reason and with mixed feelings of pride, emotion and pride, I would like to state the following:

Evagora Pallikarides,

You have never left our side. You are always present in our heart and our prayers. You are a leader and a moral heritage for Hellenism, who feels grateful and extremely proud of the epos of EOKA 1955 – 1959.

You chose death over youth, when the Country called on you at the altar of duty.

You defended the ideal of freedom and national dignity to death.

Be ensured that we are doing everything possible to safeguard the Great Values and the Ideals that you served, being just as imperishable and everlasting as the Country itself.

Concluding, with your permission, Your Reverence, may I wish that the Almighty God and the Invincible Champion shall stand by the Cypriot Hellenism; that everyone’s expectations for a united and free Cyprus, a united Hellenism shall be fulfilled. A Hellenism that finally after years of slavery, battles and insecurity, will be able to live in prosperity, serving peace, stability and solidarity through the values it has taught all over the world.

Thank you very much”.