Submarine deal takes toll on unity of coalition

In a row that could cause a rift in the governing coalition, Deputy Prime Minister Evangelos Venizelos on Friday accused Defense Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos of failing to protect him during a parliamentary discussion Thursday on a controversial submarine deal signed in 2010 when the former was defense minister in a PASOK government.

According to the deal, signed between the then Socialist government and Abu Dhabi Mar, the shipbuilding company would take over the shipyards and construct submarines there, but Skaramangas has remained idle due to a row over state arrears.

The main leftist opposition SYRIZA party threatened to demand a parliamentary inquiry into the affair. Avramopoulos responded that the government was not worried about the prospect since it was not related to the case. An inquiry would need support from at least 120 deputies.

PASOK sources say Venizelos, who is also PASOK chief, was irked by Avramopoulos’s stance as he had thoroughly briefed the conservative minister on the case ahead of the showdown with SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras.

A letter sent to Avramopoulos that was leaked to the press on Friday contained information that could allegedly be used to rebuff SYRIZA’s attacks. The same letter slammed Tsipras’s question as “vulgar, defamatory and suspect.”