Greek parliament set for raucous debate over Saudi arms deal

Greek parliament set for raucous debate over Saudi arms deal

Parliament is set for an explosive and polarizing debate on Monday over the transparency of the controversial Saudi arms deal struck by Defense Minister Panos Kammenos, as Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias warned on Friday against the publication of classified documents pertaining to the agreement, on the grounds of national interests.

Kotzias’s warning came just a day after Kammenos announced his intention to allow lawmakers to see the documents and to declassify others.

The announcement by Kammenos, who is also leader of junior coalition partner Independent Greeks, came as an apparent response to the criticism directed at the government by opposition parties claiming the deal was not transparent.

The criticism grew louder on Wednesday when Parliament Speaker Nikos Voutsis had refused to allow MPs to see the leaked documents, which were in the possession of Socialist lawmaker Andreas Loverdos, saying the law prohibits it.

And with speculation rife that the documents may be publicized even before Monday, Kotzias tried to shift the focus to the opposition, asking how it was possible for an MP to have access to classified documents, saying the Greek state was beholden to party interests.

Moreover, he didn’t rule out the possibility that some civil servants may even be in the business of selling classified documents.

Meanwhile, the government’s attempt to muster a united front ahead of Monday’s debate received another blow on Friday after a string of SYRIZA lawmakers expressed their opposition to the deal, not on the grounds of its legality but on ideology, as the weapons could be used by the Saudis against Yemen.

After former education minister Nikis Filis called for the deal to be scrapped on Thursday, he was followed on Friday by Interior Minister Panos Skourletis and SYRIZA MPs Giorgos Kyritisis and Nikos Xydakis.

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