Amid a major political turmoil, a severe economic crisis and the Greek government to allegedly count its last hours, Defense Minister Panos Beglitis decided to replace the leadership of the Greek Armed Forces, in a move that puzzled and left quite some questions unanswered. The Chief of General Staff, and the Chiefs of Navy, Air Force and Land Forces were replaced today in a move condemned by all opposition parties that demand explanations, describe it as “undemocratic” and some even request from the President not to sign the assignment of the new Chiefs.
Greek media report that Beglitis convened an unscheduled meeting of the Government Council for Foreign Affairs and Defense, half an hour after PM George Papandreou called for an extraordinary cabinet meeting. To the old military leadership Beglitis apparently said:
“Thank you for your cooperation, but I think it’s time for your replacement. I wanted to do so since last August but due to the problems with Turkey I couldn’t. Now I feel it’s the right time for your replacement.”
The four Army chiefs – Ioannis Yangos (General Staff), Fragkoulis Fragkos (Land Forces), Vasilis Klokoza (Air Force) and Dimitris Eleysiniotis (Navy) – go into retirement.
Chief of General Staff/Defense is now Michalis Kostarakos, Land Forces Konstantinos Zazias, Navy Kosmas Christidis and Air Force Antonis Tsantirakis.
It looks as if Beglitis , Defense Minister since last government reshuffle in June 2011 and since 2009 elections alternate DefMin had problems to cooperate with the Army Chiefs. Sources claim that Beglitis was angry about the Armed Forces in general and how they dealt with the Parade of October 28th in Thessaloniki in particular, as some Armed forces groups insisting on parading although the President had already gone and the parade was officially cancelled. Another incident that bugged Beglitis was the break in by retired offices in the Defense Ministry last month (sorry, not able to find the KTG-article link, right now). The Army had also raised objections in letting soldiers pick up the garbage during the municipality strike.
Other sources speak of replacement of the Four by members of the Armed Forces who are supporters of the loan-agreements.
The term of the old army leadership was due to finish in March 2012. The fourwere holding offices after a similar move in 2009 by then Defense Minister Vaggelis Meimarakis (Nea Dimokratia) short before the 2009 elections. An unexplained move as well. Now conservative Nea Dimokratia stresses it will not accept the replacement and will call back the four Army Chiefs when ND comes to power.
Beglitis decision caused a major discontent within the Armed Forces, who have also seen cuts in their salaries and pensions in times of strict austerity. But the modern (after the military junta 1967-1974) Greek Armed Forces have been trained to be obedient to the laws and the Constitution.
Or, Does Belgitis know more than we do?
For “conspiracy-theorists” FORBES/The Appalling Greek Solution: A Military Coup