New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis called the arms deal between Greece and Saudi Arabia “a first-class scandal” and criticized Tsipras for “covering up” for Defence Minister Panos Kammenos during a fierce debate in parliament on Monday.
Mitsotakis criticized the government for “bringing back to the ministry of National Defence the use of middlemen, which had been abolished after the cases of former (National Defence Minister Akis) Tsochatzopoulos,” referring to the PASOK former minister who was jailed over bribery and money laundering.
Commenting on Kammenos, who is leader of the junior party in the ruling coalition (ANEL), the opposition leader said, “Your own government ally is proven to be selling shells and bombs to Arab countries with the help of middlemen. In any democratic country, the prime minister would have dismissed his minister. You didn’t – is he blackmailing you, with bringing the government down? How can you go to elections with 15 billion euros’ worth of measures and record taxes?”
In his follow-up remarks in parliament, Mitsotakis noted that Tsipras did not answer the main questions posed by ND, such as why intermediaries are needed for an intergovernmental deal.
“Mr. Papadopoulos was an intermediary. We voted the law in 2011 because we have been hurt and paid as a country in order to end with middlemen. You and your minister chose to bring them back […] from the front door. Your ambassador had warned you about the role of Mr. Papadopoulos. The message sent by our ambassador at the end of August on 2017 shortly before the Saudi Arabian delegation arrived [in Athens’,” he said.
A second question is why the prime minister is allowed access to confidential documents and lawmakers are not. “This is called a cover-up,” he said.
The third question is where the money from the deal went if it was legal and the fourth question is who the intermediary really worked for.