Excellency, President of the Hellenic Republic,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
This day is of particular importance to all of us. The importance lies mainly within the fact that this day provides us with the opportunity to turn our eyes to the future, after having concluded in the first place a creative account of the year that has gone by.
Last year΄s festivities were naturally flooded with images, words and thoughts related to the tremendous success of the Olympic Games.
Besides, it was the first time that the Hellenic Police Force had to rise up to certain challenges that were considered to be way beyond what had previously been expected concerning the Hellenic Police Force role or action.
And they made it.
Greece organized the best and safest Games ever held.
We committed ourselves not to let this wealthy heritage go unaccounted for.
Nevertheless, combined with the particularly unfavourable international ambiance, this heritage calls for a permanent operational and functional modernization of the Hellenic Police Force, so that it can adapt to the new reality both domestically and abroad.
From the first moment we came into power, we decided that the main pillar of our politics would be to take the necessary steps in order to implement this necessary modernization and to utilize the human resources in the Security Forces to achieve this goal.
It is true that crime indices in our country are among the lowest in Europe and that indeed Greece is one of the safest countries in the world.
It goes without saying though that in no case shall we relax in our vigilance.
Besides, the efficient confrontation with crime and the provision of a secure environment to the citizens constitute a transcendental challenge.
We fully subscribe to this enduring challenge, while making all possible efforts to respond in a successful way to so difficult a task.
The citizens΄ security is a “sine qua non”, since it is not only a precondition but also a factor for economic growth.
However, the concept of security is no longer limited to the traditional definition of this term.
Nowadays the concept of security has acquired a broader meaning to include issues related to economic growth, technology, human rights, environmental protection and generally speaking, all values promoting human prosperity.
It is therefore perfectly reasonable why we would want to be inspired by this spirit and efficiently increase the citizens΄ sense of security, thus linking security to the country?s economic growth.
In other words it is fairly easy to understand why these three words, democracy, security and development, have become the cornerstone of our action.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Developments in all levels occur at a startling pace today. This is why we need a Police Force that can be the leader of things. This is why we have adopted a series of updated measures and infrastructures so as to bring about the necessary changes in the mentality and concepts related to the role and the work of the Security Forces.
The essence of our values and the content of our doctrine paint the image of a Police Force which will be at the citizen?s service, a Police Force helping the citizens in their everyday lives and improving their quality of life.
In other words, we wish to see Police Officers included in the social strata of the region of their duties, Police Officers playing an active part in the social stage.
We have a dream: create a new relationship based on mutual trust so that we shall walk into tomorrow with less violence and less crime.
We have turned this vision into a political commitment and a social contract with the citizens.
However, this contract shall include one fundamental clause: the non negotiable principle of the protection of human and individual rights.
In other words, this social contract into which we have entered vis-à-vis the citizens shall include safeguards guaranteeing that whatever measures might be taken to protect the citizens΄ security, they shall always be introduced with all due respect to human rights, since the latter form the cornerstone of our democratic state and can never become a subject of negotiation.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Very abrupt changes of state are often observed in our time; therefore, it is of vital importance to redraw our national strategy.
In the years to come, under the pressure of changes that shall be non reversible, Greece shall face the constantly growing need to adapt to the requirements of the new era.
And it will be such a strong need that any political or party ideology differences between us shall be of no use. Party favouritism is of no importance whatsoever when it comes to the role and mission of the Security Forces.
This is precisely why I wish to point out that the changes we strive to achieve are not oriented towards a few people.
On the contrary, they are guided by the interests of the entire society. They are inspired by the new reality that surrounds us as well as by our common sense.
This is actually the reason we keep insisting. It is the only way to go forward. Even though we intend to move on, our feet will also be firmly tight to the ground; we shall be both socially sensitive and bold in our decisions.
The changes we seek to introduce do not derive from specific doctrines or narrow-minded convictions; these changes respond to the need to end long-standing problems and to adapt to the new state of play.
And I am certainly optimistic that we shall pull through.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is true that in the recent years competent politicians have been handling the affairs of the Ministry of Public Order. I have to admit that a significant and worth mentioning work has been handed over to us.
We are now in charge and we try to manage things in the best possible way. We were prudent, coherent, modest and efficient and I dare say we managed to rise up to the big challenges and the extraordinary and critical situations that have taken place.
- We were successful in the big challenge of safely hosting the Athens 2004 Olympic Games.
In this way the so-called Olympic “acquis” has new prospects and opportunities to offer to our country.
- In order to further develop our potential, we set up the Centre for Security Studies, with the objective of utilizing both at the domestic and the international level the know-how that derived from the Olympics.
- In addition to that, we are currently in the process of creating a Balkan and Mediterranean Centre for Security Studies and Education, in order to provide training and specialization to the executives of competent security bodies of the countries in the greater region.
- We are strengthening and enhancing our international and bilateral cooperation. By promoting the security diplomacy we can contribute to the country?s geopolitical expectations.
- As far as the domestic field is concerned, we have been developing efficient and flexible actions so as to respond to the demand of the citizens for more security in their everyday lives.
- We have also made significant progress in dealing with organized crime, illegal immigration, human trafficking and electronic crime, while also paying particular attention to provide specialized training to the competent in these matters members of Staff.
- Regarding the sensitive issue of drugs, we focus our actions on cracking down organized dealing networks, by attacking their cross-border activities and money laundering procedures, while we also aim at dealing with internet drug-dealing.
- Coming to the subject of road safety in our country, the Highway Police has quickly been planned and running.
- Furthermore, we are extremely careful with the issue of safe transport of pupils.
- Apart from that, we consider traffic management in Attica of paramount importance; this is why we have activated the Operational Centre for Traffic Monitoring and Control.
- I should also mention the big problems produced by violent behavior in the sports courts. We are cooperating with all competent bodies, implementing the new sports regulations.
- In general terms, we are creating new instances and restructuring the Police Force through new Divisions and Departments.
- We have been considerably occupied with long-standing problems related to the staff and leadership of the Security Forces, such as, for instance, the special risk bonus for the entire staff of the Security Forces and the expansion of the five-year active service to all members of staff.
- Moreover, we have set up the Retired Officers Communication Centre, thus answering to a constant and long-standing demand of the interested parties.
- In terms of career guidance, we put forward a series of legislative adjustments to settle the issues of grades, evaluation and change of posts for Police Officers.
- We drew up the Code of Ethics for the Police.
- We managed to cut down red tape, by simplifying the procedures that should be followed regarding supporting documents produced to the Police Authorities.
- In addition to that, bearing in mind the need for more transparency, we have offered additional legal protection to the Division of Internal Affairs of the Hellenic Police Force and we have included in the regulation the need for members of staff to provide explanations as to the origin and mode of acquisition of their property assets.
- Last but not least, I should mention the issuing of new, safe passports, which shall fall within the exclusive competence of the Hellenic Police Force as of 1-1-06. Besides, we are getting on with our project to issue and deliver directly to the citizens their identity cards.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
What I have just mentioned shall certainly not be the endpoint for our work and mission. The Ministry of Public Order is never self-indulgent.
Let me reassure you all that all measures which may be taken, shall always aim at creating a Police Force which will daily be proving its social sensitivity.
Our vision is to implement in practice the concept of “security with a human face”. In a democratic state, this can be accomplished through the protection and promotion of human rights, the rule of law and democratic governance.
This is Greece as we want it to be, a country in which a coherent and participative society shall be built in justice, with the safeguard of the Security Forces,
a country in which a society of solidarity and human action shall be able to thrive, in a peaceful and secure environment.
By knowing our past and by analyzing the present, we can plan the future with the precondition of a secure society in all levels.
It is high time to turn into galloping all steps that have been taken in the past. We shall preserve the positive and shall correct the negative features we have inherited.
In any case, our ambition for today and tomorrow is to create a society which will be more inclusive. For us this is not only a political temptation in which we wish to indulge but also a challenge to which we have to rise up.