Thursday, March 21, 2013

Fiscal Crisis Cuts Greek Arms Imports

With big cutbacks in spending, including in defense, arms imports by Greece fell 20 percent from 2008-12 as austerity measures were being imposed to reduce the country’s debt and keep rescue monies coming from international lenders.
Greek imports overall declined 61 percent,  as Greece fell from 4th to 15th in import rankings, according to the  Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. In 2006-10 Greece was the top recipient of German arms exports, SIPRI said.
The Greek defense industry has also been suffering and two of its major companies are being eyed for a takeover by Qatar. Military officials said the country’s security has been put at risk by the spending cuts of some 29 percent since 2010. Greek ships tailing Turkish vessels and Greek fighter jets monitoring Turkish jets that regularly violate Greek air space have also been limited.
Yiorgos Glistis, a retired submarine commander,, told the New York Times that,  “Now we’re seeing dinghies dogging frigates… (and) no really flexing of the muscle.” Military personnel have lost at least 37% of their income since 2010. The head of the joint chiefs of staff earns $3,899 a month before taxes of about 35%. “The military isn’t just bleeding” because of the reductions, Yannis Katsaroulis, a navy supply officer told the Times. “It’s boiling.”

Yet despite the cuts, Greece continues to spend the largest per capita amount for defense of any nation in the European Union. According to SIPRI, Greece’s military spending in 2011 equaled 2.1% of its gross domestic product, compared with the EU average of less than 1.6%.

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