New arms plan gets green light

The government approved yesterday an 11.39-billion-euro arms program for the next five years but said that it will aim at reducing the weight of defense spending after 2010. The Government Council on Foreign Policy and Defense (KYSEA) rubber-stamped a decision to spend the money between 2006 and 2010 with some 9.5 billion euros relating to prior commitments from the previous socialist government. «The new arms program was put together according to the operational needs of the armed forces… and in line with the country’s fiscal abilities,» said Defense Minister Evangelos Meimarakis after the meeting. «We are trying to put order to defense spending without harming the country’s defense strength,» he added. The government will also aim at reducing the cost of the next arms program, scheduled to run between 2011 and 2015, to about 1 percent of gross domestic product from 2 percent currently, according to the minister.