OPINION

Pillage

Although extremely important, this particular news item did not make the headlines. Worse, in some cases it was skillfully concealed. However, it is of utmost importance because it concerns Greece’s arms procurements, a highly sensitive and costly sector. The new leadership of the Defense Ministry last Thursday fired all the members of the military’s procurements commission. A total of 500 members that staffed about 100 military commissions were sacked. The commission’s members were responsible for 2.5 billion euros’ worth of arms procurement programs and may well have made deals for more purchases. The decision came after a detailed inquiry. The conclusions of the investigation were frustrating and resulted into massive layoffs. «The Defense Ministry even pays kickbacks for coffees,» a senior government official said recently, in a bid to show the extent of corruption in the sensitive sector of the armed forces, and one that enjoys society’s trust. The decision by the leadership of the Defense Ministry was not simply a symbolic gesture. Rather, it reinforced concerns that the armed forces have degenerated in recent years into an instrument of pillage. Furthermore, it suggested that a great deal of taxpayer money which has for years been invested in arms procurements for the protection of the country, has actually been wasted in a provocative manner or squandered by political and army cadres, that is people who have taken oaths to serve the country and its citizens. The massive removals of military personnel showed that the Defense Ministry has been plagued extensive wrongdoing which has gone unpunished by previous governments. The ministry’s new political leadership has committed itself to overhaul the sleaze-ridden sector. It wants to impose transparency in the arms procurements programs and to do away with all sorts of middlemen who – with the help of their greedy acolytes in the media, some of whom have entered the field of arms purchases – have conducted murky dealings and corroded the body of the armed forces. Now these are driven by the will to make a profit on the back of the people who have paid a heavy price to safeguard the precious good of security. The Defense Ministry, the government, and the prime minister himself must disclose everything they know about the military’s arms procurements. They must launch an in-depth investigation and punish the wrongdoers so as to mete out justice and make sure that this does not happen again in the future. In most Western democracies, at some point blame is apportioned and somebody is called to account even for minor offenses. Here, even major crimes go unpunished. Until when?