4 Questions Haunt Tsipras over Shady Defence Deal with Saudi Arabia

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and opposition leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis are ready to battle it out in parliament on Monday, over the  controversial arms deal involving Defence Minister Panos Kammenos; who is said to have sold Greek army surplus projectiles to Saudi Arabia.

The issue would have been discussed in parliament earlier but the prime minister; who was out of the country due to previous obligations, wanted to be present during the discussion.

The issue was originally raised by PASOK MP Andreas Loverdos, who claims he has several documents in his possession that allegedly prove that Kammenos used an intermediary for the sale, when the law dictates that transnational arms deals should be done only between governments and without intermediaries. The sale was approved by the Greek parliament.

The defence minister presented a man named Vasilis Papadopoulos as a representative of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The Greek defence ministry officials signed a deal with Papadopoulos at a Greek military base. However, the Saudis stated that they don’t know who Papadopoulos is.

According to opposition politicians, the Greek foreign ministry was excluded from the deal. Legally, the ministry is obliged to participate in all transnational deals regarding arm procurement.

Furthermore, the discussions with the Saudis were for the procurement of 100,000 projectiles, while the deal that was signed was for 300,000 projectiles.

At the same time, Papadopoulos; a convicted arms smuggler, in addition to presenting himself as a representative of Saudi Arabia, also presented himself as a representative of Jordan, and discussed the sales of other Greek army surplus weapons.

New Democracy is planning to ask some crucial questions regarding the deal. At the same time, the conservative party has released a video presenting details of the case, and are asking some serious questions regarding Kammenos’ behaviour.

The main opposition will ask the following questions:

  • If the deal has indeed been signed, where are the 66 million euros to state coffers, as Kammenos had promised?
  • If it was not signed, why was it cancelled, and why did the Greece lose 66 million euros?
  • Is Kammenos acquainted with Papadopoulos and what is their relation? Have they cooperated in other such cases?
  • If the Saudis bought the 100,000 projectiles they had asked for, where did the other 200,000 go?

Depending on the answers given, Mitsotakis is to ask further questions regarding the defence minister’s actions.

The Prime Minister is prepared to defend Kammenos by presenting his arguments and pertinent documents. However, Tsipras is facing some criticism from inside his own party.

Syriza cabinet members and MPs have publicly expressed their reservations over the arms deal with Saudi Arabia, claiming that the projectiles are most likely to be used against Yemen.