Chiefs of the Police Force, the Fire Brigade and the Coast Guard, Representatives of the General Staff of the Air Force, the Army, the Navy and the Coast Guard, General Secretary of the Region of West Greece, Head of the Department of Aitoloakarnania, General Secretaries from the Ministry of the Press and the Ministry of the Environment, Urban Planning and Public Works, Deputy Heads of Departments, Vice-Mayors, Representatives from the Local Authorities, ladies and gentlemen,
The Chief of the Hellenic Police Force, Anastassios Dimoshakis, made a full and enlightening introduction of the subject. We all know what led us to organize this meeting of paramount strategic and operational importance between the highest ranking officials from all the involved bodies. I, as a Minister of Public Order, feel deeply honored and I would like to congratulate the people who undertook the initiative to proceed to this exercise. This is a means to undertake duties in a new way; this is an expression of the modernization process of our Public Administration. The inter-service, inter-sectorial, inter-ministerial, inter-regional and inter-departmental dimensions prove the administrative adaptation to the modern environment. All this requires a higher level of quality in order to put in place a modern, administrative look. I would like to repeat the notions of inter-service, inter-ministerial, inter-sectorial, inter-departmental, inter-regional and inter-municipal. This relation between the levels is what makes a modern administration. All these components, all these forces shall create a resultant force leading to the desired goal. Such exercise need to take place repeatedly, in many different places and on many different subjects. This is the only way to promote good Public Administration. We should leave borders to the past. We should have cooperation as the basic rule guiding us to our present and to our future. Cooperation and coordination are the internal values behind the exercise RION-ANTIRRION 2006. I honestly congratulate all those who have worked in order for us to meet in this exercise on paper.
After this introductory remark on the internal meaning of this Exercise, which is cooperation and coordination, allow me to refer to the content in detail.
I would honestly like to point out that your presence here, your readiness to cooperate and coordinate is part of the plan of Europe. This is a part of a European planning and I would like to express my joy for this. This is part of the European Planning of the Hague in order to divert dangers to the so-called crucial infrastructure elements. This is how the European Defense responds to asymmetric threats and challenges. At the same time, thanks to my own consultations and the consultations between our Headquarters, this exercise will be a part of the European planning to promote international cooperation particularly in the Balkans. This is something the Chief of the Police Force has already mentioned. I am very proud to tell you that we, Greeks, wherever we travel to the greater neighborhood of the Balkans, we are de facto, and sometimes, indeed de jure, the legal representatives of the European Union, we are considered to be European brothers.
I would like to share with you the look our neighbors give us, turning to us for know-how, cooperation, mediation in Brussels, all this being a very condensed package of political responsibility.
I would like to make two more comments, ladies and gentlemen. First of all, we have a great international asset, deriving from a favor of history. In other words, our state, our public administration, our Police Force, our General Staffs have the luck to have had the Olympic Games experience. This is a gift of God that upgrades us de facto at the international level. All of you who take part in this exercise, all the Officers here that will either be players or observers, must have seen that both Beijing and London are currently into a serious discussion with us on know-how. Our good fate has given this gift to us. We have hosted a major event, the Olympic Games, in conditions of absolute security and this certainly is to our credit, making us useful and reliable for cooperation at the international level. We can offer our quality services to them and I would like to ask you to accept this transformation of the Greek Administrative Units in terms of quality. With regard to security matters, the level of the Hellenic Police Force and the competent Ministries has definitely increased a great deal. We were the first to host Olympic Games under such risks, since you all know that the Athens 2004 Olympic Games were the first to be held after September 11th of the year 2001, bringing together a new reality, new challenges and new risks.
However, we managed to pull it through. I would like to point out that there is a deeper meaning in the concepts of cooperation and coordination. I feel the need and the obligation to try to develop this deeper meaning.
The first is to leave aside all acts of inter-service and inter-ministerial egoism. All component forces should meet to fight against the danger together and produce the best possible results.
The second is to be very concrete and not theoretical in this exercise on paper. As Mr. Dimoshakis said the evaluation will take place later, during the ad hoc exercise. All this is fundamental to a modern Public Administration. Last but not least is for all top-ranking officials to meet and for all the members of the operation to meet. It wouldnt be right to have people cooperating without one knowing the other; it would be an operational oddness. In any case, everything will be handed over to the Crisis Management Division. They have the cumulated experience, enriching it constantly through the evaluation process.
My two last comments are of an administrative and an academic nature. The administrative observation I would like to make, is that this exercise has a new and very valuable component, the component of communication. Modern exercises, modern administration and modern operations are nothing without communication, although this may have also been equally true in the past. Communication is our bridge in order to get social and even sentimental approval. This is how our operational action acquires a sense of moral order that makes us introduce a social alliance with the media and the press. This is something I would like to point out, because the old administrative school would want us just to do the operation and finish it there. However, we no longer have against us a well-known opponent in terms of weapons and ways of action. We now have to fight an unknown opponent, using unknown means, at an unknown point in time and above all, with an unknown objective. In other words, analysts have to try really hard in order to find out what the opponent wants, since the opponents act at an unknown point in time, in an unknown way, with unknown means and unknown objectives. This is how things are today and this is what the players in this exercise will have to deal with. Believe in your cause.
Let me now move to the academiccomment. Our objective is to protect a work of art, this paramount element of infrastructure, the Rion-Antirrion Bridge, the HarilaosTrikoupisBridge. The Bridge is sacred in historic philosophy referring to the Pontifex. Pontifex is one of the names of the Pope, coming from the pre-Christian period of Rome. Pontifex used to mean bridge-builder and was also the highest religious master, responsible for observing the rituals and respecting the religion. In other words, a sort of policeman of the religion. Geographically speaking, pons-pontis means bridge. Therefore, if we take this historic and philosophical train of thought even further, we are currently moving in the sacred field of a bridge, a bridge providing communication and helping to translate into action the words he who has the road, has the imperium. I consider this field sacred in terms of values. The bridge is sacred since it provides free communication of people, goods, and means. This is the academic dimension of this exercise. My last call to you will be what I have already said before: believe in your cause, we are guarding the people, our values, our ideals and our crucial elements of infrastructure. Let me express my joy for holding this exercise and declare the opening of the works.