But Merkel’s security arrangements overshadow everything as she prepares to visit Athens
Long-suspected of having massively enriched himself at the Greek Ministry of Defence, Vlassis Kambouroglou has found dead in hotel room in Jakarta. Local medical authorities suggest that Kambouroglou committed suicide.
Kambouroglou was alleged to have been aware of – indeed an active participant in – the corrupt Defence Ministry under the PASOK government between 1997 and 2001. At the time, the Ministry was purchasing large consignments of German munitions, aeroplanes and
In addition, Vlassis Kambouroglou had in the best been in the spotlight concerning Russian arms deals under Boris Yeltsin, as well as earning huge profits in cooperation with Arab weapons merchandisers.
Principally, however, Kambouroglou was accused of being party to the bribery and money laundering network involving former Defence Minister Akis Tsochatzopoulos. He was the managing director of Drumilan International, which was involved in the sale of a Russian-made TOR-M1 missile system to Greece. Called to testify before a parliamentary inquiry into the arms deal in 2004, Vlassis Kambouroglou denied that his company made any money from the deal. No charges were brought against him.
Lagarde’s List continues to terrify politicians from Surrey to St Petersburg. Feeling the heat more than most, PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos is now insisting that he was not informed last year by his predecessor as finance minister Giorgos Papaconstantinou that the latter had been given a list containing the names of almost 2,000 Greeks with large deposits at the Geneva branch of HSBC.
The most onerous task in Athens at the moment would be searching out a single Greek person who thinks the Fat One is telling the truth. But running it a close second is the task of organising security for the visit of Greece’s favourite politician, Angela Merkel. So popular is the Frau Doktor, police have banned all demonstrations in downtown Athens tomorrow (Tuesday). Indeed, all public gatherings or marches will be banned between 9 a.m. and 10 p.m.
There will be no buses or trams running in Athens between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. Six metro stations – Panepistimio, Syntagma, Evangelismos, Megaro Mousikis, Ambelokipi and Katechaki – will be closed from 10 a.m. onwards. Parking around the German embassy in Athens will be banned from tonight, and barricades will be put up around Parliament. Snipers will also be placed around the hotel where the German delegation will stay.
How ironic it is that such enormous popularity requires EU leaders to be protected from their adoring citizens, he observed – foot placed perhaps to hard on the sarcasm pedal.