SP demands clarification on Greek defence purchases

11 January 2012

SP demands clarification on Greek defence purchases

SP Members of Parliament Ewout Irrgang and Harry Van Bommel, respectively spokesmen on financial and foreign affairs, have put a written question to the government regarding reports of extensive Greek arms purchases. Earlier this week German news magazine Die Zeit reported on the Greek Defence Ministry’s ambitious plans to shell out billions of euros on Leopard tanks, Eurofighter aeroplanes, submarines and frigates. According to the two MPs, if confirmed these plans represent a complete absurdity: a government that is receiving financial support from other members of the Eurozone and which is imposing extremes of austerity on the Greek people, should not be spending billions of euros of this aid on new military toys.

Ewout Irrgang Harry Van BommelAccording to Die Zeit it is more than possible that within a few months, should a new tranche of aid be extended, the Greeks will spend billions of it on defence materiel. Die Zeit also reported that pressure was being brought to bear by France and Germany to allow already existing defence deals to be honoured and even to permit new contracts to be signed. Germany and France are major arms exporters.

In answer to previous questions from Irrgang and Van Bommel the Dutch Finance Minister stated that Greece had already greatly reduced its defence spending, that salaries had been cut and that only second hand materiel would be purchased. But the salary cut has not, according to the European Commission, been imposed and reports indicate that more new materiel has been purchased. Notwithstanding the cuts, Greek defence spending remains extremely high in comparison with the rest of Europe, with an increase planned for 2012.

All of this provides sufficient reason for Irrgang and Van Bommel to ask the government to clarify its position on Greek defence spending. “We’ve loaned billions to Greece and the Finance Minister is about to add more to that figure, even though the Greek state is near enough bankrupt,” says Irrgang. “In such a situation spending billions once again on armaments would be absurd.”

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