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Monday, April 17, 2006 

Friend and Foe

It's no secret that Greece is up to its neck in debt and Finance Minister, Giorgos Alogoskoufis has been trying for the past two years to scrape enough money together from tax revenues, privatization of public companies, slashing (or so I thought) public expenditures and attempting some creative accounting to get the debt under control and under the EUs 3% Growth & Stability Pact limit.

So why then, is Greece planning to spend 22 billion€ on new weapons? Are we planning a war and no one told me? How can this kind of expenditure be justified considering Greece's dire fiscal straits?
Elefterotipia daily in Greece wrote that the Greek government plans to purchase a new weapons system worth €22 billion as part of its 10 year armament program.

According to the Greek daily, Greece will purchase 40 warplanes, 45 training planes, six frigates, four submarines and 35 helicopters of various types, 291 TOMA type chained vehicles, 26 fighting vehicles and satellite communications systems.

Are the new planes needed to replace the ones that have crashed in recent months? Are we expecting civil insurrection? Is the government planning to use the 35 helicopters to ensure the recent spate of bank robberies are kept in check? What on earth is a TOMA type chained vehicle anyway?

As mentioned on the Phylax blog, if there is such a real threat from Turkey, why is Greece climbing into bed with them by investing 2.3 billion€ of Greek depositors' money in acquiring a 46% stake of Turkey's Finansbank?

No doubt Greece's military weapons are outdated and in need of modernization but surely not enough to justify spending 22 billion€ especially at a time when every penny counts in the effort to keep this country from falling into an economic sinkhole.

I completely agree with you, but is it the first time? What about all the people (men only for some reason) who have to go serve the army, wasting a year of their life? Or alternatively, people who avoid it and have to try to be sneaky to avoid any small problems that may exist? Or what about the fact that the latter are very few because of the common misconception that people who avoid conscription have serious legal implications?

anon...of course this isn't the first time Greece is about to squander money...13-14 billion€ for the Olympics and every other day it seems we're either losing a half billion here, a couple hundred million there for government mistakes. This is what makes me so angry. There's no money to increase pensioner's incomes, they put an 82 year old woman in jail for 1,730€ 13 year old fine they couldn't collect from her but the State continues to blow money.
The obligatory military service is another kettle of fish. I'm not quite sure what that has to do with the government blowing money when it could be better used elsewhere.

The group or entente that is investing in Turkey is not representative of Greece. It might be called Greek Banks or something of a Greek name, but their wealth and funding is international and its original source offshore. In fact it is a transnational transaction by interests ententes which have nothing to do with Greece and Greek or Turkish national life.

The expenditure of the government on armaments can be justified that the armed forces, navy and airforce require upgrading and enhancement of their military capabilities. Besides the money spent is money funneled into Greek coffers by EU agencies, American loans, complex conglomerate agreements, aid packages and other abstruse fiscal arrangements with military aims. The monies entering Greece through these agencies are contingent to meeting certain conditions and in general it has a "predetermined destiny". One of its destinataries is arms spending.

It is a faboulously rich game for the instittutions ( governemnt and non governmental) granting these largesses .

It reminds me of the war hysteria created by panick mongers and war profiteers in 1978 between Argentina and Chile. A border incident, serious enough to ruffle feathers on both sides, was engineered, flames fanned and both countries entered an arms race. Several visits were made by the globetrotting Kissinger, ostensibly to cool the waters. The war fever lasted exactly 90 days, in those three months of the arms race and bellicose bluster, the USA government delivered 30 and 15 skyhawks airplane to each country respectively, and massive quantities of war assets . Where did the money originate to purchase these war materiel ? Neither of the two countries had a GDP sufficient to warrant the purchase even of a tenth of the billions that were squandered at the time. The answer is of course with the so called "loans, grants, and military assistance", of course the real answer can be provided by Dr Kissinger.

When the average citizen begins to comprehend that the presently constituted government is in place to hinder and hamper his/her activities than a small step forward is achieved in understanding the machiavelian machinations of a government which has the interests and well being of its citizenry excluded from the list of priorities.

klotz...What a great comment. You've raised some very good points. The most important being the machiavellian machinations our governments employ to ensure 22 billion€ deals like this one go through with kickbacks lining everyone's pockets at the expense of the taxpayers.

Too bad this kind of scheme only seems to work in the murky world of arms deals and not in the rotting education system.

I am anon above. With my comment above I was making a connection of military service with Greek-Turkish relations, not so much spending. However my point was that for no purpose at all the government wastes resources (money and people's time). The olympics is a different story, in my opinion the cost is justified, in others it may not. Given there is really no benefit to anyone of any military conflict between Greece and its neighbours, spending resources for the military is unjustified.

Seawtich,
I completely disagree with you on this one.

Greece deterence of Ankara is based entirely on its most advanced equipment, espceilaly the capability, size and modernity of Greece airforce.

Anyone who has ever seen any serious projected war scenarios between Greece and Turkey would tell you this.

Is it a huge and heavy burden? yes. Is it irrational on the part of Greece? no.

Greece's conscript army (and I am not saying I am for or against it) is not going to blunt a Turkish attack during the time it is imporant. The SIZE, Advnced state and READINESS of its airforce and air defense, and to an extent Navy are the key factors Ankara has to worry about. These are all expensive but that does not mean they are not sensisble.

Geo is right. The military should become modernized and efficient, however it is much more important that steps are taken both on the Greek and Turkish side to reduce the military force of each.

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