The main defence related news from Greece over the last 48 hours or so has to do with the fact that officials from the European Commission have been scrutinising Greek defence spending practises. This is being seen by several sources as having a direct effect on Greek Sovereignty and in can be related back to the statement the Greek PM made several weeks ago that the economic crisis can even endanger national sovereignty.
EC officials apparently were given insight into highly secret information crucial to the country’s defence. According to rumours Greek Defence Minister Venizelos objected strongly to such sensitive information being made available to these officials but his objections were overruled by the Prime Minister’s office.
The economic situation is such that the Greek Ministry of Defence will have to slash its operational spending by about 12%. Acquisition budgets will have to be adjusted downwards by roughly another 6%. As mentioned in the previous post, Greece would not be in such a dire economic situation if the defence budget was more “normal” and comparable to that of the EU average. Obviously ineffective economic policies and the notorious corruption that plagues the country have also greatly contributed. But let’s face it, many countries, including several European ones, have had and still have corruption issues. The one thing that sets Greece apart remains the disproportionate cost of defence which is the direct result of the Turkish threat.
Whether these EU officials were in Greece on a mere fact finding mission or whether their job was to give suggestions or even instructions on how to handle the deficit remains to be seen. Such intervention in core national issues is seen as an insult by many and parallels have been drawn to the German occupation in the Second World War. A reverse argument can be that such intervention is an expression of European solidarity and that Europe, as a whole, is making a genuine effort to band together and get through this crisis, especially the Euro countries. This would be a preferable way of looking at the situation and surely the European Commission would like to see it as such. The problem however remains that this solidarity is selective. Where was European solidarity when Turkish aircraft were violating Greek airspace on Christmas day? Where was European solidarity when Turkish fighter aircraft took off and headed towards the Greek PMs aircraft as he was flying back from a Greek island just a few days ago? Where is European solidarity when Greece is the only country faced with the official threat of war from a county aspiring to join the European Union?
The European Union will never live up to its true potential if it does not treat issues such as the military threat faced by Greece with the attention it deserves. Europe has the right to meddle in Greek economic affairs as they impact European Union stability. Europe has the obligation to get involved in the Greek security problem as this impacts European security.