PFEARFU Reaction on Involvement of Greek Armed Forces in Controlling Cases of COVID-19 at Ports and Airports

PFEARFU expresses the strong dissatisfaction of our colleagues, regarding the announcement of 28 June 2020, through the Deputy Minister of Civil Protection Mr. Hardalias regarding the involvement of the Armed Forces in controlling cases of COVID-19, in ports and airports.

We are unable to believe what was initially conveyed to us. We were informed through relevant publications that the military health personnel will be deployed around the country’s entry points over the next three months, with full responsibility of controlling cases, in view of the “opening” of international flights on July 1st .

Mr. Hardalias literally stated that, “we are building the next day for our country, for our islands for the Greek tourism”.

We ask the Deputy Minister: Is the “building” of tourism a mission of the Armed Forces?

It is an unpleasant originality, the participation of the Armed Forces in the effort to increase the tourist product, at a time when the commitment to our mission is more urgent than ever, due to the current developments in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Really, how attractive could be the image of soldiers wearing their uniforms, welcoming tourists? Or do you think that our colleagues should not wear uniforms to avoid a “hard” reception image?

The Ministry of National Defence, having already allocated valuable personnel and resources to the Pre-Departure Centers for refuges, considered that the remaining military personnel is enough to charge another task, ignoring that the mission of the Armed Forces is to protect the territorial integrity, national independence and sovereignty of the country against any external attack or threat, as well as to support national interests.

The aforementioned constitute a devaluation and degradation of the military personnel because:

  • are able to pose our colleagues, serving across the country, at immediate risk by channeling valuable health staff to fulfill this task, when military health structures, especially in border areas, “suffer” from chronic shortages of health personnel
  • disrupt their mission, which is to provide health care services to the military personnel, making them, once again, support staff of other Ministries
  • are announced by the Deputy Minister of Civil Protection and not by the Political or Military Leadership of the Ministry of National Defence, which includes exclusively the health staff of the Armed Forces
  • are carried out under the invocation of staff shortages of the Ministry of Health, at a time when it is announcing thousands of staff recruitments of various specialties to deal with COVID-19 cases
  • involve our colleagues without any financial support when the respective staff of the Ministry of Health in similar cases, enjoy extra allowances
  • Overburdens the military personnel in tasks out of their original mission

The Armed Forces in peacetime, offer social services to our country, without, of course, diminishing their main operational work.

Examples that highlight the contribution on annual basis:

  • Assistance in disasters and firefighting
  • Providing medical assistance in remote areas and islands
  • Transfer of patients by air transport
  • Creation of refugee accommodation structures and active participation in their care
  • Search and rescue
  • Construction of small and large infrastructure projects

The ability of the Armed Forces to respond to any difficult task assigned, is not an alibi for their use in needs that other Ministries are unable to carry out. PFEARFU requests from the Ministry of National Defence, the immediate cancellation of channeling valuable personnel into engagements out of its original mission and allow it to train and work seamlessly to defend the sovereign rights of our country.

This is a translation of the Greek version of the press release which is available here. For more information, please contact PFEARFU.

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