Cash-strapped Greece calls on citizens to fund battleships Months after emerging from austerity purgatory, Greece is still too poor to afford its battleship fleet, according to Defense Minister Panos Kammenos, who asked wealthy and ordinary Greeks to make up the difference.
Kammenos is hoping to raise money for new battleships by appealing to his countrymen for funds, hoping to catch the ear of some of Greece’s wealthy shipping magnates as well as working-class Greeks.
In what may be the world’s first military ‘Kickstarter’, the defense minister will open a bank account on January 1 where Greek citizens will be able to donate “for new frigates and a flagship.” He promised to match all donations out of his own pocket.
“I will be the first to deposit my salary in this effort,” he told navy personnel on Thursday, the feast day for St. Nicholas, patron saint of Greek seamen and the navy.
The Defense Ministry plans to upgrade its fleet in 2019 as the nation continues to lock horns with Turkey, though it’s unclear how it expects Greece to pay for the new weaponry. In October, Kammenos visited the US in hopes of encouraging the US to expand its military presence in the country, and Greece recently signed a $1.5 billion deal to upgrade its F-16 fighter jet fleet.
Greece has been paying back a total of $330 billion in loans that came in three International Monetary Fund programs with crippling austerity measures attached. While the government has fulfilled its obligations as of August, the average Greek household is still reeling from the effects of austerity cuts.
While PM Alexis Tsipras hailed the end of the bailouts with the announcement that his government would focus on “social spending,” the country is in reality still closely watched by the IMF, which is unlikely to tolerate any deviations from neoliberal orthodoxy.
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