Spiliotopoulos muddies waters

Defense Minister Spilios Spiliotopoulos yesterday added to the confusion regarding Greece’s procurement of Russian anti-aircraft TOR M1 systems by refuting a months-old statement of his own that a renegotiation of the deal had been finalized. A Parliamentary committee is currently investigating the terms of the initial deal, concluded under the previous PASOK government, for possible penal responsibility and a lifting of the parliamentary immunity of then Defense Minister Akis Tsochadzopoulos. During a visit to Moscow yesterday and in the presence of his Russian counterpart, Sergei Ivanov, Spiliotopoulos staunchly defended the quality of the air defense system. «The Russian weapons are not being called into question but, rather, the legality of the procurement procedures under Greek responsibility, and the provision as regards the system’s potential for compatibility with the rest of Greek air defenses,» he said. A few months ago, Spiliotopoulos had announced a successful end to the renegotiation which he described as particularly beneficial, citing the securing of offsets worth 106 million euros. Yesterday, he revealed that the Russian side has still to submit the proper letters of guarantee. «We do not accept this type of government guarantee,» he said. He also admitted that the key issue of technical compatibility remains unresolved. «These are technical issues which will be resolved later,» he said. Until the compatibility issue is resolved, the weapons will be unable to distinguish between friendly and enemy aircraft.