Rift appears in fragile coalition over defense cuts


Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’s office on Wednesday hastened to placate Panos Kammenos, the leader of junior coalition partner Independent Greeks, after the latter, who is also the country’s defense minister, allegedly threatened to quit the government if it did not withdraw a proposal for military spending cuts in line with demands from international creditors.

Several hours after a reportedly tense meeting between the leftist prime minister and his nationalist partner, Tsipras’s office issued a brief statement saying that “there is no – never has been and never will be any – proposal from the Greek government for the reduction of defense spending.”

The meeting was held following a proposal by the government addressed to the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund on Tuesday, which included a reduction in military spending of 200 million euros in 2016 and 400 million euros in 2017 “through a targeted set of actions, including a reduction in head count and procurement.”

Kammenos reacted angrily to the proposal, sources told Kathimerini, threatening to quit the fragile coalition if the proposal was not withdrawn – a move that would bring SYRIZA’s parliamentary majority in the 300-seat House down to 149 from the coalition’s current 162.