Greece’s coalition government and especially Panos Kammenos, the leader of junior partner Independent Greeks and Defense Minister, faced a tough questioning in the Parliament on Monday over a failed deal to sell Greek army missiles to Saudi Arabia.
Defense Minister Kammenos had secured a €66-million deal with Saudi Arabia to sell 100,000 surplus missiles.
The deal fell through in August and questions have arisen since over its transparency.
Greece’s supreme court prosecutor has ordered an investigation after several media close to major opposition party New Democracy reported that the government had used a middleman to broker the deal – something illegal in government-to-government deals since it is seen as likely to lead to corrupt practices.
The Greek opposition had no moral reservation about the sale of ammunition to a country leading a war in Yemen. Its only problem was a “technical” one in terms of corruption.
Kammenos has repeatedly denied wrongdoing.
“A fully legal government-to-government agreement to sell ammunition is being presented as corruption,” Kammenos told lawmakers on Monday.
“It is a government-to-government deal and there are no intermediaries. The money that would have left Saudi Arabia would have gone to the state coffers – no intermediary, no middlemen,” he said.
But Conservative opposition lawmakers have called for the minister’s resignation and for a probe into the sale. Others have also questioned the possible sale of arms to Saudia Arabia, which is involved in the Yemen conflict.
“In any normal country, the prime minister would have suspended the defense minister until the case was cleared up,” Kyriakos Mitsotakis, the main opposition New Democracy leader, told a heated parliamentary debate.
One should note that every once in a while New Democracy draws a ‘reason’ out of a big bag and asks the resignation of Panos Kammenos, who left ND some years ago.
The deal with Saudi Arabia was approved in March by Greece’s top decision-making body on foreign affairs and defense matters, KYSEA, which is headed by Tsipras. The reasons it fell through are unclear.
Greek anti-corruption laws ban the use of intermediaries in government-to-government agreements. The government denies wrongdoing and says the so-called intermediary was an authorised representative of Saudi Arabian interests.
Opposition parties disclosed classified documents and e-mails shouting “corruption because of lack of transparency”, the government threatened with lawsuits against those who leaked such documents.
The debated in Parliament initiated by main opposition New Democracy was heated and the names of more than just one alleged middlemen were disclosed.
The debate lasted for several hours and what KTG understood from the endless palaver was that “all politicians are liars!” as opposition parties accused the government of lying and vice versa.
To tell you the truth I got not a single clue whether the deal had some dark shadows or not.
For me, the main question was and remains: How can a left-wing government approve the sale of ammunition to a country like Saudi Arabia that has been leading a bloody war in Yemen where 135 children die of malnutrition and cholera every day.
The dilemma has meanwhile reached also some SYRIZA lawmakers and party officials who have proposed to cancel the deal all together on political and moral reasons. The Communist KKE supports the cancelling of the deal.
The ND proposal to invite the middlemen to testify in the Palriament has been rejected.
On Sunday, Amnesty International urged Greece to scrap the controversial arms sale to Saudi Arabia, saying the weapons could be used against civilians in the ongoing war in Yemen.
Amnesty International voiced deep concern over the proposed deal, saying there was a “real danger” that the artillery shells would be used by the Saudi-led military coalition fighting Shiite rebels in the impoverished country.
PS not to mention that other human rights issues in Saudi Arabia that include women repression, decapitation and other inhuman practices of a Sharia Law.