NEWS

Kotzias defends Kammenos over Saudi arms deal, FYROM name talks

TAGS: Politics, Diplomacy, Defense

Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias has defended his Defense Ministry counterpart and government coalition partner Panos Kammenos over a controversial missile deal with Saudi Arabia.

Speaking to state broadcaster ERT on Monday night, Kotzias claimed that after examining all the paperwork related to the planned sale of surplus Greek missiles to Saudi Arabia, he found that Kammenos “has nothing to do with the deal in the manner seen by the opposition.”

“Terrible thing are being said, which have no beginning, middle or end,” Kotzias said, referring to accusations from opposition New Democracy and other parties that Kammenos violated Greek laws governing defense procurements by allowing a mediator to negotiate the agreement.

The leader of the left-led administration’s junior coalition partner, right-wing Independent Greeks, added Kotzias, “is the subject of frequent attacks by the opposition because it believes that by putting a lot of pressure on him it can drive a wedge in the government.”

In the same two-hour interview, Kotzias also referred to talks with neighboring Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) regarding its name.

The Greek foreign minister said he hopes that a solution will be found to the decades-long dispute in 2018 after UN special mediator Matthew Nimetz relaunched talks last week between the two sides.

“What we need is for FYROM to acquire and us to display a culture of consensus and compromise, which means that neither side can expect to have it all,” Kotzias said. “We need to find a compromise that is beneficial to both countries and will stand the test of time.”

Kotzias added that there are no names on the table as yet and ruled out the possibility of the government agreeing to FYROM joining NATO under its temporary name.

Asked to respond to comments on Monday by Kammenos, who said that Independent Greeks would never consent to any name containing the word “Macedonia,” Kotzias said “it is the right of every party to state its position on issues it considers fundamental.”

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