The parliamentary committee on armaments programmes will again review the case of the abortive munitions sale to Saudi Arabia, following a request by Syriza MP and former education minister Nikos Filis.
Citing Saudi involvement in the deadly civil war in Yemen, and the European Parliament’s tough stance against the Saudis, Filis in an impassioned plea to parliament yesterday demanded that the deal be scrapped by the government on humanitarian grounds.
Filis is now requesting that the committee rescind its January, 2017, approval of the sale of 300,000 projectiles to Saudi Arabia by government-to-government agreement.
Echoing Filis’ rationale, Greek Communist Party (KKE) MP Thanasis Pafilis also demanded that the agreement be annulled, noting that “no party is entitled to hide” and that “the central issue is not the Syriza-New Democracy dispute over the issue”.
It should be noted that the decisions of the armaments committee are of an advisory nature and are in no way binding for the government, which however may use the humanitarian angle in order to wrench itself out of an avalanche of accusations and opposition scandal charges.
A committee reversal will have a political impact that the government cannot ignore.
“There are now decisions of the European Parliament, not just press reports, which demand a review of arms procurement to Saudi Arabia, due to the crimes it is committing in Yemen,” Filis told parliament yesterday.
More importantly perhaps, Defense Minister Panos Kammenos, who has been under attack for weeks over the affair, immediately appeared receptive to the idea of scrapping the nightmarish deal.
“I understand all that Mr. Filis is saying, and if there is an [inter-party] political agreement not to sell to Saudi Arabia, then we will not sell,” Kammenos declared.
A majority on the armaments committee, however, rejected a request tabled by New Democracy to invite all parties implicated in the agreement to testify before them, on the grounds that such a probe is not within the committee’s remit.