The Minister of National Defence Dimitris Avramopoulos met today at the Ministry of National Defence with the outgoing and the new Board of Directors of the Association of Retired Army Officers and awarded the outgoing Chairman, retired Lieutenant General Pandelis Mavrodopoulos.
The meeting was also attended by the Alternate Minister of National Defence Fofi Gennimata, the Deputy Minister of National Defence Thanassis Davakis, the Chief of HNDGS General Michail Kostarakos, the Chief of the HAFGS Lieutenant General (HAF) Evangelos Tournas and the Chief of HAGS Lieutenant General Christos Manolas.
At his address, the Minister of National Defence pointed out, among others:
“Today we took the initiative, for this change of guard which takes place in the field of retired officers, to organise this symbolic and modest ceremony. First of all, in order to honour and say goodbye to the outgoing Chairman and Board of Directors, and to welcome the ingoing Board.
On behalf of your political and military leadership, we assure you that, as it was happening until now, in the future we will continue being by your side, since we really believe that the positions, the views, the assertions of this Association are right first of all, but also for one more reason. Because the dominant concept in the Armed Forces lately is that retired Officers don’t stop keeping alive the ties with the big family of the Armed Forces and our national defence system.
The Ministry and Greece need the experience, the knowledge, the opinions, suggestions and proposals of all those who served in the Armed Forces and whose sober suggestions and opinions expressed with a high sense of responsibility help the political and military leadership shape their policy.
The retired soldiers over the last year accept a lot of pressure. You know very well how things were approximately three years ago, how they evolved, how we dealt with even harder situations. The situation is relatively stabilised but inequities still exist. They will gradually start being redressed, as the government recently announced. We are here to continue this struggle and I believe that in the end, after this period of time passes, a new and more hopeful age will come for our homeland, above all, for our society and of course, for everybody.
I would like, Mr. Mavrodopoulos, to refer to and praise your contribution in particular. You have been an excellent adviser by the leadership of the Ministry of National Defence all this time and a real fighter who struggled for the rights of the retired officers of our country. The fate wanted you to live now your second retirement. But I am sure that the new Board of Directors will need your knowledge, experience and advice.
I consider it as a great honour for all of us to cooperate with you. We keep the best of impressions and remember above all what you were distinguished for, a conscious and hard effort to defend the rights of the retired officers, but also – and this matters most for me – for keeping the highest level of dignity for those who served in the Hellenic Armed Forces. And you were the first to demonstrate such dignity through your life and actions.
So, it is in this spirit that we gathered here today. General Kostarakos attended the event the day before yesterday; unfortunately we could not attend it due to our visit to Egypt. So, he described us the touching moments of this event. But today is a day when an institutional continuation is given to this great work you have performed.
In the end, I would like to tell you that, like during my previous tenure in the Ministry of National Defence, now too you may have felt and noted my deep respect for all the personnel of the Armed Forces, no matter if they serve actively or it was decided that they should return to their civilian lives.
And I believe it and I mean it that for us you are never retired. This is a clearly administrative act which by no means expels you from your big family, who, since the very first moment you joined the Armed Forces until your retirement day and even after it, will hold an umbrella of protection, appreciation and respect.
This is what I wanted to tell you. Let us say goodbye to the outgoing Board of Directors, to welcome the new one and wish them the best of success to their mission which will be conducted under particularly difficult and pressuring conditions”.
The outgoing Chairman of the Association of Retired Army Officers, Lieutenant General (ret) Pantelis Mavrodopoulos stated:
“We thank you very much for this original and unprecedented honour which is made for the first time to the Association of Greek Retired Officers.
I believe that this will be continued in the future with the support of the Chief of HNDGS who has similar views to yours. This is a very good start.
We are grateful because in November 2010, under Papadimos’ government, when you assumed the Ministry of National Defence, you stopped when we convinced you, though you were already convinced, that we should remain a Legal Entity of Public Law. And your welcome back then, sending the Chief of HNDGS, as well as your behaviour until today honours us and the Association of Greek Retired Officers, no matter which branch they come from, wishes to thank you from the bottom of their hearts.
Apart from this, my love is boundless. Because when one honours our Association, this heroic Association of the Greek Officers, it means that he honours our Homeland and the History of our country, which will have a brilliant future and will recover, even after five, ten, fifteen, twenty years and return to the course imposed by the nature and fate of the Greek people.”