OPINION

Weapons purchase needs serious care

In what is a serious investment for Greek standards, some 2.8 billion euros in taxpayer money will once again be spent on the purchase of new military aircraft. Given the country’s economic condition, the funds will have to come from the pockets of Greeks. For that reason, the government must be extremely cautious about how it will spend the money. The purchase of the fighter jets must take place after comprehensive consultations among responsible officials. We have often stressed that the conservative government has an obligation to act in line with the country’s national security and sidestep other secondary concerns. New Democracy must make sure the graft and corruption that hit the Socialist administrations in previous years will not re-emerge. The conservatives must install a procedure that will convince even the most skeptical that army procurements are conducted in a transparent fashion. For its part, the PASOK opposition must steer clear of cheap politicking and take a responsible stand on the issue. The opposition must make criticism when necessary. But in doing so the Socialists must use strong evidence, not vacuous slogans and blanket rejections, to make their point. Greece’s arms procurement program is a huge investment and the country cannot be too proud of its past record. Greece has repeatedly bought stocks of useless weapons and ammunition, playing into the hands of greedy middlemen who care about kickbacks and not the national interest. Some will certainly again try to influence decision making in such a way as to benefit particular interests which do not necessarily coincide with the interests of the country. Faced with all these secret pressures, the political world must respond in a serious and responsible manner. It’s the least it can do before the Greek people are once again asked to foot the bill.