Minister puts foot in mouth

Defense Minister Spilios Spiliotopoulos yesterday was embroiled deeper into the controversy over the ongoing parliamentary investigation of arms deals by the previous government. Contradicting earlier comments, the minister denied that any improved deal had been signed with the Russian manufacturers of the Tor M1 air defense system, whose purchase by the PASOK government – allegedly negotiated against national interests – is under parliamentary scrutiny. On July 21, Spiliotopoulos claimed to have reached an agreement with the Russians that would have redressed the damage allegedly caused by PASOK. Meanwhile, Reuters news agency quoted a Defense Ministry source in Athens as saying that Greece has decided to scrap a 4.9-billion-euro agreement with manufacturers EADS to buy 60 Eurofighter jets and will launch a new tender for the war planes in 2005. «We are in no way bound by the decision of the former government,» the source told Reuters. «We are going to a new tender… open to all bidders.»