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Tsipras and Mitsotakis to face off over Saudi arms deal as evidence piles up over Kammenos’s role

TAGS: Politics, Defense

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis will cross swords on Monday in Parliament in what is being billed as a grand showdown over the transparency of the controversial arms deal with Saudi Arabia, and the role played by Defense Minister Panos Kammenos.

With damning revelations about the deal stacking up, reports said that New Democracy may even ask for the formation of a special court to investigate Kammenos.

The leftist-led coalition government is reportedly ruffled by the ongoing public debate about the affair – dubbed the “Kammenos scandal” by the opposition – as it could overshadow the effort to plug its “success story” narrative, stemming from the recent announcement by Tsipras to distribute a handout to low income earners.

Moreover, the headline status given in the media to growing evidence suggesting that the deal lacked transparency is threatening to undermine the government’s efforts to link New Democracy to the Paradise Papers and thus put it on the back foot.

Moreover, the “Kammenos scandal” could also see the ruling leftist SYRIZA party lose the moral high ground it has always thought it enjoyed.

Thirdly, and perhaps more importantly, the issue could also pose a threat to the government’s very existence as Kammenos is not only the defense minister but also the leader of the junior coalition partner, the Independent Greeks (ANEL) party.

Among the accusations against Kammenos is that he unlawfully used a broker to strike the deal to sell bombs and missiles to Saudi Arabia.

According to the law, arms deals are conducted between states and not through individual brokers. Kammenos denied the charge, saying that the broker in question, Vasilis Papadopoulos, was acting on behalf of the Saudis.

However, Saudi authorities denied knowledge of Papadopoulos to the Greek consulate there.

Meanwhile, Kathimerini understands that Papadopoulos was aiming to form a partnership with the Hellenic Defense Systems (EAS) company to produce bombs that would be purchased by Saudi Arabia.

According to company correspondence seen by Kathimerini, EAS had received visits and letters from Papadopoulos inquiring about using areas in Lavrio on the eastern coast of Attica to produce the bombs.

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