NEWS

Minister promises ‘shocking evidence’ in debate on Saudi defense deal

TAGS: Politics, Defense

Defense Minister Panos Kammenos on Monday promised to present “shocking evidence” to lawmakers debating a controversial deal to sell surplus materiel to Saudi Arabia.

Writing on his private Twitter account, the minister and chief of coalition partner Independent Greeks urged “all free media and websites” to transmit the debate live, saying “shocking evidence” would bring the “collapse” of government detractors.

Monday’s debate is expected to be heated, as Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras will be crossing swords with Kyriakos Mitsotakis, the head of the main opposition party that is accusing Kammenos of using underhand methods in the agreement with Saudi Arabia.

Kammenos is being accused of using a broker to negotiate the deal, when Greek law stipulates that procurement agreements must be conducted between state officials rather than independent brokers.

The defense minister has denied the charges, saying that the broker in question, Vassilis Papadopoulos, was acting for the Saudis and not the Greek government.

Saudi authorities, however, have denied knowledge of Papadopoulos to the Greek consulate in Riyadh.

Meanwhile, Kathimerini understands that Papadopoulos was aiming to form a partnership with Hellenic Defense Systems (EAS) to produce bombs for Saudi Arabia. According to company correspondence seen by Kathimerini, Papadopoulos had made inquiries with EAS for using areas on Attica’s eastern coast to produce the bombs.

The defense deal has also been criticized by high-ranking officials within the ranks of ruling leftist SYRIZA amid concerns that the missiles in question may be used in Saudi Arabia’s campaign against Yemen.

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