The EU likes to castigate Greece for being “profligate” and “living beyond its means”. Germany especially complains about Greek debt. Now, there’s no denying the scale of the debt, but how was it built up? In fact, the debt was incurred by buying goods from, mainly, Germany, with a good chunk from France.
To add insult to injury, many contracts were obtained through outright bribery.
So much so that inn April, for example, giant German manufacturer Siemens paid 270 million euros to Greece in compensation for corruptly obtained contracts – ranging from commuter trains to telephone systems.
Also in April, it was revealed that Greece’s military expenditure as a proportion of GDP is the highest in Europe. In 2010 it was 7.1 billion euros, with 58 per cent spent in Germany (Greece accounts for 15 per cent of that country’s arms exports). With a population of just 11 million, Greece is the fifth largest importer of weaponry in the world.
Bribery is thought to have been involved in defence contracts as well: April also saw former defence minister Akis Tsochatzopoulos behind bars awaiting trial on charges of taking an 8 million euro bung from Ferrostaal, the Germany company overseeing the sale of four submarines to Greece in 2000. Only one submarine has been delivered, and that doesn’t work. The whole deal cost more than the extra pensions cuts in Greece’s last bail-out package.
It couldn’t happen here, could it? Well, not to Germany anyway: British governments prefer shipping billions upon billions to the US, for example to pay for Trident. ■