France and Germany forced Greece to buy arms: MEP
France and Germany, while publicly urging Greece to make harsh public spending cuts, bullied its government to confirm billions of euros in arms deals, a leading Euro-MP alleged Friday.
Franco-German lawmaker Daniel Cohn-Bendit said that Paris and Berlin are seeking to force Prime Minister George Papandreou to spend Greece's scarce cash on submarines, a fleet of warships, helicopters and war planes.
"I met Mr Papandreou last week. I was in Athens. I've known him for a long time," Cohn-Bendit told reporters, accusing Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel and France's President Nicolas Sarkozy of blackmailing his friend.
Cohn-Bendit accused France and Germany of making their contributions to an IMF-led rescue package for the debt-ridden Greek economy contingent on Athens honouring massive arms deals signed by Papandreou's predecessor.
"It's incredible the way the Merkels and Sarkozys of this world treat a Greek prime minister," he declared, adding that Papandreou had recently met Sarkozy and French Prime Minister Francois Fillon in Paris.
"Mr Fillon and Mr Sarkozy told Mr Papandreou: 'We're going to raise the money to help you, but you are going to have to continue to pay the arms contracts that we have with you'," Cohn-Bendit said.
"In the past three months we have forced Greece to confirm several billion dollars in arms contracts. French frigates that the Greeks will have to buy for 2.5 billion euros. Helicopters, planes, German submarines."
Despite its economic woes, which recently deepened spectacularly when its credit rating was downgraded, Greece is one of Europe's biggest arms buyers, seeking to keep pace with its regional rival Turkey.
Cohn-Bendit, a former leader of the 1968 student revolt in Paris, is leader of the Green group in the European parliament.
© 2010 AFP