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Germany, France & Holland Sold Greece €1 billion of Arms Amid Debt-Crisis

There is no money for wages, pensions, medicines and books, but there is money for arms. Especially when they are sold by EU countries, our eager-to-bailout-Greece friends. Friends willing to give loans but only under one condition: Trade “arms” for “bailout”.  Citing official EU figures, the website euobserver.com revealed that Eu countries like Germany, France and the Netherlands sold Greece arms worth one billion euro at the same time as they were negotiating the first Greek bailout in 2010.

EU figures show crisis-busting arms sales to Greece

Official figures show that EU countries sold Greece over €1 billion of arms at the same time as negotiating its first bail-out back in 2010.

France was by far the biggest seller, with a €794 million aircraft deal, according to recently-released European Council data on arms licences granted by member states. It also sold €58 million of missiles and €19 million of electronics used for aircraft countermeasures and target acquisition.

Pro-austerity advocates the Netherlands and Germany together sold almost €90 million of mostly electronics and ground vehicles. Italy sold €52 million of rifles and aircraft parts, while Spain sold €33 million of military-grade chemicals.

Greece is currently trying to shave every possible centime off its budget, but it still remains one of the biggest arms spenders in the region due to a perceived threat from Turkey.

The then Greek deputy defence minister, Panos Beglitis, in 2010 told Reuters that fellow member states did not put pressure on Athens to buy the arms in order to get the bail-out. “This [large scale arms purchases] has always been the case with these countries. It is not because of the crisis, there is no link,” he said.

But an aide to the then Greek leader, George Papandreou, who asked to remain anonymous, told the news agency: “No one is saying ‘Buy our warships or we won’t bail you out.’ But the clear implication is that they will be more supportive if we do.”

Looking to the Middle East, the 2010 figures tell a tale of EU countries arming their Sunni Muslim allies in the ‘Cold War’ against Shia Muslim enemies Iran and Syria.

EU countries granted €2.5 billion of licences for exports to Saudi Arabia, €1.5 billion for the United Arab Emirates and €1.2 billion for Oman. Sales to smaller Sunni-controlled regimes – Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Qatar and Yemen – added up to €1.1 billion.

They sold almost nothing to Iran and Syria (barring half-a-million-worth of Greek aircraft parts for Syria’s President Bashar Assad, who buys mostly from Russia). (Further Reading EUOBSERVER)

In recent months, there were several reports mostly by German media about the arms deals amid the severe Greek debt-crisis that pushed millions of households into fast-track impoverishment.

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21 comments

  1. Well, Dienst ist Dienst und Schnaps ist Schnaps (literally: Duty is duty and booze is booze)! That means, those are different issues and shouldn’t be confused with each other. The German government can’t simply govew orders to German companies, we’re a democracy, not a dictatorship at all. There are laws to prevent the sale of arms into crisis regions, but those don’t apply to NATO member Greece. And if the Greek military sees an urgent need for some electronic equippement, it’s not really the job of German companies or the government to second guess them.

    I agree that the Greek defense budget is inflated and should be adjusted, at least temporarily. But it’s the Greek government who is responsible for doing that. Pointing fingers at the suppliers, as long as they aren’t state owned companies, is misguided.

    • Oh my God. That’s (Dienst ist Dienst und Schnaps ist Schnaps) so typical German! 😯
      Dutch would NEVER say that. They say Handel is handel (trade is trade) 😛
      That was why they were the biggest slave traders in history…
      Back to these arms deals. I would have liked to see the reactions on headlines like “NATO countries refuse to supply Greek army”. “Germans press Dutch not to sell ammunition” and “French cancel defence order because of Greek crisis.” And then they would still sell the stuff to Turkey.
      And as long as that aide to the then Greek leader, George Papandreou, does not come forward to state his claim in public I simply can not take that into account. Might be something like the MP that transferred a million to Switzerland and never did.

    • iaourti iaourtaki

      They can’t talk into arms deals but they can talk into election schedules and try to dictate the people who to vote for.
      Reminds me of school kids getting kicked out of school because they went to a 500.000 people demonstration against Pershing and Cruise Missiles on a Saturday. “Hausordnung” is always more important than the constitution.

  2. Duty is duty, tsipouro is tsipouro, but profit is always profit and always wins in this crazy world.

    It is not unknown for one country to give aid to another country, and at the same time to use the opportunity to do trade deals “under the table”.

    Democracy? What has democracy to do with profit? Profit takes no notice of political regimes or national boundaries; it merely takes advantage of opportunities.

    • Yeah, sadly, profit almost always wins. The best countries can do is regulate it and prevent the worst atrocities. But no government can check each and every trade deal and decide if its desirable. Imagine the bureaucracy necessary for that! And all those law suits, and the high risk of corruption. No, if there’s a buyer willing to waste his money on a certain good, he’ll almost always will find a seller. That’s reality. Hey, when you buy a new 102 cm TV set now, with all the super duper features, the salesman won’t tell you to better use your money for paying the rent, electricity and your food purchases, neither!

  3. KTG do you remember when we were young and we were told to be careful of gypsies because they steal everything from you while standing in front of you and talking. It would seem that that advice works here in this situation. As in another of your posts (planes, tank,and helicopters)the north are just our present day gypsies in Greece. Ta matia sou tesera! 😛

  4. Dienst ist Dienst und Schnaps ist Schnaps.
    Handel is handel.
    Duty is duty, tsipouro is tsipouro.

    I will not tell you what the English say – KTG would moderate me!

  5. Great, so assigning prejudices from travellers to “the north”, needing Merkels “lazy greeks” like a hole in the head? Ta matia sou tesera, horis kephalo?

  6. You seem to be completely in dreams.

    German dictate loan terms to Greece. Unless Greece agree to certain purchases, the loans won’t be released.

    Democracy? Sounds like a school kid’s mindset.

    • This was responding to Gray, Germany

      • That’s yet another conspiracy theory without a single evidence supporting it, Bob! I, for one, find it very questionable that Merkel would strongarm the Greek military into buying French frigates, Dutch electronics and ground vehicles, and Spanish aircraft parts, with German money! Do you believe she is Santa Claus or something?

    • Tied aid credit is as old as… I a former live I worked in development aid sector and ‘tied development assistance’ or ‘tied aid’ was a huge problem for Third World countries. Guess it tells a lot about Greece’s position these days.
      And about Hellenic Aid, there are some nice examples to find there too. http://www.hellenicaid.gr/frontoffice/portal.asp?cpage=NODE&cnode=54&clang=1

      • Ok, that’s a good point, of course. Indeed, while imho it isn’t necessarily bad to combine aid with delivering products from the donor countries, it is true that much too often this resulted in a total waste of money without improving the situation in the needy countries. For instance, in the past we Germans have build automated factories in thrid world countries (Ha! People need JOBS, not robots!) and the US have build high end power houses that ran with fuel that wasn’t available in that region (apart from several other problems). Idiotic.

        I know a guy who worked for the German foreign aid department in the Uganda regiion, and he could tell some of those stories, too, Antonis. Looks like the policy has changed, and they now try to deliver more low tech stuff (like simple carts, pumps, and generators) that can actually be used and maintained by the people, but the practice of pushing for big, impressive projects hasn’t totally stopped yet.

        • Right. Diet cookies to famine countries, is on of my all-time favourites.
          I still have family working in that line of work. And although, like you say, lots of things have improved, the crazy things still happen. Like rebuilding houses and donors insisting that the new roofing is bought in their country while there are perfectly good local factories who can deliver it.
          Another favourite of mine is bringing old clothing and shoes to Third World countries and by that destroying the whole local industry. Same with sending second hand bicycles. In Africa it destroyed a thriving industry in one of the countries (just can’t remember which country right now).
          I see an awful lot of that kind of stuff happening here in Greece all the time. And it is such a waist of time and money.

          • Yeah, it’s really idiocy on a grand scale, and many recipients of that “help” sure must think we folks in the industrilazied nations are totally nuts or out to make their lifes even more miserable. And we haven’t even touched the huge problem of the US and EU agricultural subsidies going into exports, resulting in artficially lowering market prices to a level that ruins many small farmers all around the world. As long as we continue this madness, our lousy foreign aid programs can’t make up for the damage we create, even if they would be run in the most efficient way.

            But since all eyes are on the Euro crisis now, this isn’t even a topic in international politics. Anybody hoping for a better world should go to sleep for five years or so. There won’t be an serious improvement in the foreseeable future.
            🙁

  7. Merkel represents the worst in German obstructionism, incrementalism and minimalism.

    Her latest accomplishment, the nonsense-inspired PSI, has exchanged roughly 100B. euro of sovereign debt with 200B. euros of new Greek obligations.

    Financial amateurish and out-of-depth incompetence such as displayed by Merkel is perpetuating a European crisis, which could have been contained a long time ago and at a fraction of the final cost.

    By all counts a supreme example of avoidance to be taught in business schools around the world for many years to come.

    The end of the Merkozy era is just around the corner and with it this punctuated period of ignorance in matters of international finance.

    • keeptalkinggreece

      apparently Merkel chose the PSI option in order to avoid be blamed for the collapse of the eurozone. Then a Greek exit would have a domino effect for the other week countries.

    • Plassaras, you really should do something against your obviously pathological hatred of all things and folks German! Better start a therapy, or else one day you’ll get a life time prison sentence for strangling a German tourist.