LE TEMPS (Switzerland), DER SPIEGEL (Germany)
As Greece remains under the watchful eye of Angela Merkel and the IMF to make sure it imposes strict austerity measures, there is one governmental budget that has largely escaped cuts: the defense department.
Alexandre Trauvers, writing in Le Temps, reported that Greece's defense budget amounts to around 3 percent of its GDP, which is twice the amount of the European average (1.7 percent).
However, this rising figure reflects Greece's appetite for acquiring weapons rather than a necessity to fund the armed forces, which remain quite modest, with only 139,000 soldiers and 251,000 reserves.
Der Spiegel reported that Greece spent 4.6 billion euros last year on new tanks, submarines and fighter jets, which are mostly imported from France and Germany. However, as the crisis continues, the Greek Defense Minister has vowed to cut the budget by 400 million euros.
Thanos Dokos, head of the Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy, told the German newspaper: "There is an element of hypocrisy when Germany and, to a lesser degree, France blame Greece for being spendthrift without acknowledging at the same time that a lot of money that Greece spent ended up in German and French pockets for the purchase of consumer goods and weapon systems."
However, Vautravers observed that Greece puts so much importance on the military due to its historical implications: defeated and occupied by the Axis powers during World War II, it spent the following years threatened by communist Yugoslavia, Bulgaria and Albania, as well as its continuing conflict with Turkeysince its invasion of Cyprus in 1974.
"Geographically," Vautravers writes "the mountainous nature of its northern border and the hundreds of islands make it necessary that there is a strong military presence to control the complex territory."