ATHENS

Greece’s parliament voted late Tuesday in favor of the government’s decision to increase military spending after five days of heated debate. 

During the parliamentary debate on the 2021 budget, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said the government aims to increase spending on military capacity by 57% compared to that of 2019.

Greece’s defense budget is projected to reach around 5.5 billion euros (US$6.6 billion), more than double last year’s spending.

Despite its economic hardships, the Mediterranean country spent 2.3% of its GDP on defense in 2019.

Some 189 parliamentarians voted in favor of the government’s decision to increase military expenses with 16 members voting against and 95 voting “present.”

Mitsotakis said that in the coming days, the government will sign a deal with France on the purchase of 18 Dassault-made Rafale fighter jets.

“Never before has such a complex and important military program been carried out so quickly and efficiently,” he said, adding the government also wants to acquire new frigates, helicopters, drones, upgrade its F-16 fleet and recruit an additional 15,000 personnel.

Meanwhile, Alexis Tsipras, the leader of the leftist Syriza party, lashed out Mitsotakis.

“If there is one word that describes the draft state budget for 2021 and the government’s management of all critical issues, it is ‘failure,’” he said.

Commenting on the government’s plan for the military budget, Tsipras said “we are not voting against the spending increase. But we do not give you a blank check, without consultation, without a plan and strategy.”

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