The Deputy Minister of National Defence Attends the Memorial Service for the Seven Fallen Heroes in Cyprus and the Transportation of their Bones Back to Greece

November 25, 2021

The Deputy Minister of National Defence Mr Nikolaos Chardalias, today, Thursday 25 November 2021, attended, as a representative of the Hellenic Government, the ceremonies of transportation and reception of the remains of the seven fallen and missing Greek fighters of Cyprus, found and identified in the context of the exhumations programme of the Missing Persons Investigative Committee and the corresponding programme of the Republic of Cyprus:

– Colonel (Infantry) Konstantinos Kokkas.

– Colonel (Engineer) Nikolaos Giannakopoulos.

– Reserve Warrant Officer (Infantry) Dimitrios Velonas.

– Reserve Warrant Officer (Raider) Christodoulos Doitsidis.

– Reserve Warrant Officer (Supply – Transportation) Dimitrios Thanopoulos.

– Reserve Warrant Officer (Infantry) Charalambos Karagounis.

– Reserve Warrant Officer (Infantry) Thomas Koukoulis.

In particular, the Deputy Minister of National Defence attended the official ceremony conducted at the Holy Church of God’s Wisdom, in Nicosia, during which a memorial service took place in honour of the fallen, along with presentation of medals to the relatives of the Heroes and handing over of their remains.

The following individuals attended the ceremony: relatives of the Heroes, the Presidential Commissioner of the Republic of Cyprus Mr Fotis Fotiou, the Speaker of the House of Representatives in Cyprus Ms Annita Dimitriou, His Grace, the Most Reverend Christoforos of Karpasia, as representative of His Beatitude the Archbishop of Cyprus, the Minister of Defence of Cyprus Mr Charalambos Petridis, the General Director of the Ministry of Defence of Cyprus Mr Andreas Louka, the Chief of the Hellenic National Defence General Staff (HNDGS) General Konstantinos Floros, the Ambassador of Greece in Cyprus Mr Ioannis Papameletiou, the Chief of the National Guard General Staff Lieutenant General Dimokritos Zervakis and the Commander of the Hellenic Force in Cyprus Colonel (INF) Stylianos Tinanas.

The Deputy Minister of National Defence, the Chief of HNDGS and the relatives accompanied the Heroes, by air on a C-130 military aircraft, to the Dekeleia Air Base, where the official ceremony of the remains reception was conducted.

The Heroes and the Mission from Greece were received by the MP of the B Constituency of Western Attica (New Democracy) and the C Deputy Speaker of the Parliament Mr Athanasios Bouras, as Representative of the Speaker of the Hellenic Parliament, His Reverence the Metropolitan of Ilion, Acharnes and Petroupoli Mr Athenagoras, as representative of His Beatitude the Archbishop of Athens and All Greece, representatives of Party Leaders, the Ambassador of the Republic of Cyprus in Greece Mr Kyriakos Kenevezos and the Chiefs of HAFGS Lieutenant General Georgios Blioumis, of HAGS Lieutenant General Charalambos Lalousis and of HNGS Vice Admiral Stylianos Petrakis.

In his address during the official reception ceremony, the Minister of National Defence mentioned the following:

It is an exceptional honour and a particularly emotional event, the fact that today we received and accompanied to the homeland, the bones of seven (7) heroes who fell for the country on the island of Cyprus, during the Turkish invasion.

Mother Greece today welcomes the fighters of Cyprus, who with their struggle and sacrifice honoured the Greek flag and executed their duty towards the Homeland to the fullest. Faithful to the ideals of freedom, independence but also to the traditions of the primordial Greek history, they kept true to their oath and constitute an everlasting example of national independence as well as the source of national pride.

In the heat of the summer, they offered their vigorous youth. Heroes and martyrs at the same time. Writing the epilogue of the Cypriot Thermopylae in July – August of 74, in a spotless representation of the Battle of Thermopylae in August 480 BC, of a battle where a few stood their ground against many.

They stayed behind to show the whole world that the righteous always triumph. That death does not bend the soul. They stayed behind to show to their homeland that “τοις κείνων ρήμασι πειθόμενοι” (obedient to their laws, we lie).

The seven (7) heroically fallen fighters, hand over to the new generations teachings of virtue, courage, love for one’s country and selfless contribution. They impart to us the message that steadfast faith in ideals, the free spirit, the respect of the values and the traditions of Hellenism, are the required conditions for us to handle the modern challenges, in the new security environment being established in the Eastern Mediterranean.

The seven (7) fallen fighters, forty-seven (47) years after their ultimate sacrifice and their anticipation in the hospitable Cypriot land, return today, to their birthplaces. Their souls will finally rest and will find their deserved peace.

The Hellenic State is today doing its duty towards the heroic fighters of Cyprus. The location, identification, return to Greece and their burial with the appropriate honours, of all the individuals who went missing in Cyprus, constitutes a national duty. This obligation of our history, the respect towards the dead warriors, finds its roots to our historical course and our cultural legacy.

The drama of Cyprus has not ended. Almost fifty (50) years after the illegal invasion, the occupation forces are still at the same positions. Turkey, with its stance in the issue of Cyprus as well as on the issue of its claims towards Greece, demonstrates that it remains steadfast in its implacable and unfounded, in terms of Law, positions.

Greece and Cyprus maintain as their steady and main pillar of their foreign policy, the safeguarding of the international legality and the respect to the principles of International Law and the Law of the Sea.

Our vision is still a united Island, without occupation troops and anachronistic guarantees. We will continue to condemn the illegal actions of Turkey, as long as it continues to violate any sense of legality and principle of International Law.

Greece is a supporter of the efforts of the Government of Cyprus to find a solution. The end of the Turkish occupation and colonisation and the finding of an overall, mutually accepted, fair and viable solution for the Cypriot problem, constitutes a top national priority of the Greek foreign policy, with apparent importance for the Greek – Turkish relations.

To the relatives of the seven (7) fallen fighters, I express the State’s most sincere condolences. I assure you that, profound emotion, sentiments of respect and pride affect all Greeks when experiencing the self-denial and heroism. Their sacrifice keeps being our national legacy to future generations.

Finally, we have to particularly mention the Government of Cyprus, which we warmly thank for its tireless efforts to locate the bones of the seven (7) heroes which we receive today in Greece.

Our common goal is for all the fighters who sacrificed themselves to defend Cyprus, to be buried in Greece and rest in peace. Towards that direction we are working in concert with the Cypriot authorities and do everything in our power.

Colonel Konstantinos Kokkas

Colonel Nikolaos Giannakopoulos

Reserve Warrant Officer Dimitrios Velonas

Reserve Warrant Officer Christodoulos Doitsidis

Reserve Warrant Officer Dimitrios Thanopoulos

Reserve Warrant Officer Charalambos Karagounis

Reserve Warrant Officer Thomas Koukoulis

…for freedom requires virtue and boldness” is what our poet Andreas Kalvos wrote.

Your Boldness, our Freedom.

We thank you for everything you offered to the Homeland.

We owe you gratitude for your struggle.

You are Immortal!!

Thank you”.