Greek Gov’t Under Pressure as MEPs Vote for Saudi Arms Embargo

The European Parliament on Thursday called for an EU arms embargo against Saudi Arabia amid the “world’s largest famine” in neighbouring Yemen.

The vote puts additional pressure on the Greek government; which is under attack by the opposition and international watch-groups, to abolish a controversial arms deal with Saudi Arabia, that was approved last summer.

In a non-binding voting; a resolution urging EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini to impose an arms embargo against the kingdom was adopted by 539 votes to 13, with 81 abstentions.

Three Greek MEPs; including Constantina Kouneva from the ruling SYRIZA party, have voted for the ban. At home, government MPs have also criticised the decision and have hinted at canceling it.

Influential MP and former education minister Nikos Filis has announced that he will be asking for a non-binding resolution by the appropriate parliament committee to scrap the deal altogether.

Government spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos stated yesterday that the government will abide by any decision taken by EU officials. Whether this non-binding EU parliament vote will offer an excuse to the PM to cancel the deal and avoid further political controversy, is still unknown.

The EU parliament resolution says: “Mogherini should urgently propose an integrated EU strategy for Yemen and push again for a Yemeni peace initiative.” It also calls on “all actors to act to deescalate the conflict and to engage in a new round of UN-led peace negotiations”.

The MEPs said there were “serious allegations of Saudi Arabia breaching international humanitarian law in Yemen”.

At home, criticism of the Saudi arms deal is not slowing down, with New Democracy accusing Defence minister and government coalition partner Panos Kammenos, of the unlawful use of an intermediary in the deal.

The opposition conservatives also hinted during a press conference held two days after the parliament debate, that the minister has presented falsified or irrelevant documents in his defence.