NEWS

MPs ponder end to arms deal but ND sticks to guns

TAGS: Politics, Defense

New Democracy vowed on Tuesday not to drop its efforts to hold the government to account over the stalled deal to sell ammunition to Saudi Arabia despite MPs deciding to discuss the possibility of scrapping the agreement altogether.

The conservatives proposed on Tuesday that the parliamentary committee which has oversight for military contracts should invite all of the key players in the deal, including Greek diplomats serving in Riyadh and middleman Vassilis Papadopoulos, to answer questions from members of the panel.

However, the coalition MPs on the committee rejected this idea. They argued that this would turn the standing committee into an investigative body. Instead, they accepted a proposal from SYRIZA lawmaker Nikos Fylis and a Communist Party MP to discuss whether the contract with the Saudis should be canceled. Fylis suggested during Monday’s parliamentary debate that Greece should not be selling military equipment to Saudi Arabia because it would be used against civilians in Yemen.

The issue will now be discussed by the committee, which does not have the authority to cancel the arrangement, although it can make a recommendation to the government.

A decision from the Government Council for Foreign Affairs and Defense (KYSEA) would be needed for the 66-million-euro agreement to be declared null and void.

Monday’s debate about the arms deal and Defense Minister Panos Kammenos’s role in the affair was the key issue discussed by New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis and the party’s shadow ministers during a meeting on Tuesday.

The conservatives feel that the possible cancellation of the contract vindicates their efforts to examine its details further.

However, the opposition party seems determined not to stop there. Several top officials, and possibly Mitsotakis himself, appear in favor of adopting a tough stance on military procurements and rejecting any deals put forward by the government from now on.

New Democracy also issued a statement on Tuesday denying that Mitsotakis’s wife, Mareva Grabowski, knows John Sfakianakis, the Riyadh-based Greek economist that Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras alleged tried to scupper the government’s pact with the Saudis.

Online