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Panagiotis "Panos" Kammenos (Greek: Παναγιώτης (Πάνος) Καμμένος, Greek pronunciation: [panaˌʝotis ˌpanos kaˈmenos]; born 12 May 1965) is a Greek politician and the founder of the right-wing party "Independent Greeks", which formed the governing coalition of the Hellenic Parliament with the Syriza Party after Kammenos met with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, on 26 January 2015.[1]

Panos Kammenos
Πάνος Καμμένος
Panos Kammenos.jpg
Minister of National Defence
In office
23 September 2015 – 15 January 2019
PresidentProkopis Pavlopoulos
Prime MinisterAlexis Tsipras
Preceded byIoannis Giangos
Succeeded byEvangelos Apostolakis
In office
27 January 2015 – 28 August 2015
PresidentProkopis Pavlopoulos
Prime MinisterAlexis Tsipras
Preceded byNikos Dendias
Succeeded byIoannis Giangos
President of Independent Greeks
Assumed office
24 February 2012
Preceded byPosition established
Personal details
Born
Panagiotis Ilia Kammenos
(Παναγιώτης Ηλία Καμμένος)

(1965-05-12) 12 May 1965 (age 53)
Athens, Greece
Political partyNew Democracy (Before 2012)
Independent Greeks (2012–present)
Spouse(s)Eleni Tzouli
Children3 boys and 1 girl
Alma materUniversity of Lyon

He was named Greece's Minister of National Defence on 27 January 2015.[2] He served until 20 August 2015, when the Syriza-ANEL coalition resigned, and continued as a lame duck until 28 August, when he was succeeded by the interim Minister, Ioannis Giangos. He again became Minister of National Defence on 23 September 2015 when the Syriza-ANEL coalition was re-created following the election of 20 September 2015.

Contents

Early life and careerEdit

Kammenos was born in Athens, Greece. He studied economics and psychology at the University of Lyon Business Administration School of Managers. In 1993, he was first elected Member of Parliament in the New Democracy in the Second District of Athens.[3]

Independent Greeks partyEdit

On 24 February 2012, through his personal social networking sites, Kammenos announced the establishment of the new party called "Independent Greeks (ANEL)"[4] and published the Declaration.[5] Yiannis Manolis directly expressed its intention to join the new party format. He expressed support for Elena Kountoura, Panagiotis Melas and other MPs.

He wants to eliminate a large part of Greece's debt, which is equivalent to 175 per cent of the country's gross domestic product.[6]

Kammenos and the Independent Greeks take a hardline stance against illegal immigration into Greece.[7]

The Independent Greeks and Kammenos are Eurosceptics.[8] He has walked the halls of Greek Parliament wearing a T-shirt that said, "Greece is not for sale."[9]

2015 electionsEdit

With 3.7% of votes won in the snap elections,[10] Independent Greeks, the junior coalition partner in Tsipras's last government, entered the parliament. Panos Kammenos formed a government with Tsipras and Syriza.

Institute of Geopolitical StudiesEdit

 
Panos Kammemos in 2013

Kammenos co-founded with his friend, University of Thrace professor Filippos Tsalidis, Athens-based Institute of Geopolitical Studies. In November 2014 Institute signed a "memorandum of understanding" with the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies (RISI). RISI was part of Russia's Foreign Intelligence Service until it was brought under the office of the Russian president in 2009.[11]

AwardsEdit

He has been honored with the Grand Cross of Merit from the Primate of the Czech and Slovak Orthodox Church, the Medal of Honor Patriarchate of Jerusalem and the Order of Knight of the National Order of Merit by the President of France Nicolas Sarkozy. In 2007, he was appointed Deputy Minister of Mercantile Marine, Aegean and Island Policy in the government of Kostas Karamanlis, Minister and politician where the head was Georgios Voulgarakis. He was sometimes involved as an expert mediator and an official observer in elections in foreign countries.

Political positions and controversiesEdit

Kammenos accused the former Prime Minister of Greece George Papandreou of treason. He said that the Hellenic Postbank, a public banking arm of the Greek government, oddly purchased a $1.3 billion worth of credit default swap (CDS) to insure against a default of the Greek government in spring and summer of 2009 (so indirectly, the government bought protection against its own default), and those CDS was then subsequently sold in December 2009 to a private firm named IJ Partners for $40 million. Naturally, as the Greek debt crisis was getting progressively worse, the CDS in question was probably worth $27 billion in June 2011.[12] In 2013, a Greek court decided that he should pay 30,000 euros for libel against the brother of George Papandreou[13] and in 2014, a court decided that Kammenos accusations were false and slanderous and he should pay 100,000 euros to the IJ PARTNERS.[14][15]

Kammenos has stated that "Europe is governed by German neo-Nazis".[8] He has also called German Minister of Finance Wolfgang Schäuble persona non grata because of war reparations that Kammenos demands from Germany.[16]

In 2013, he was investigated by a court for urging supporters to lynch a local mayor who was supporting gold mining in Skouries. Kammenos said to his supporters "(the mayor) must not be able to walk around. Lynch him."[17][18]

In December 2014, Kammenos stated on television that Greek Buddhist, Jewish and Muslim religious institutions do not pay taxes (in contrast to the Church of Greece, which was exempted from income taxes beginning in 2004 and whose clergy benefit from state salaries, but also began paying property taxes on its non-monastic, non-worship space properties in 2011[19]) as part of a comment on actions or perceived policies of the Antonis Samaras government with which he disagreed:

...Here we are looking at the Orthodoxy, which Mr. Samaras invokes in his article, the government should make up its mind about the other issues that were against the Church of Greece. Cremation, agreement with same-sex union, these are the positions that the present government took, the government of Samaras, which arrives and calls out most definitely that there should be taxation only on the Orthodox religion, here the Buddhists, the Hebrews, the Muslims don't pay, the Orthodox Church pays; indeed the monastic establishment is in danger, too...[20]

The remark was condemned by Greece's Jewish community and government officials, who called it "conspiracy theories, lies and slander”.[21]

In March 2015 Kammenos said that "If they deal a blow to Greece, then they should know Greece will suspend the Dublin II treaty, and migrants will get their ID and documents and will travel to Berlin". He also stated that "If Europe leaves us in the crisis, we will flood it with migrants, and it will be even worse for Berlin if in that wave of millions of economic migrants there will be some jihadists of the Islamic State too” and threatened that Greece would "give to migrants from everywhere the documents they need to travel in the Schengen area."[22][23]

In 2016, he posted on twitter a photo holding a dead shark and tweeted “Catching the big sharks one by one,” in reference to the businessmen that the Greek government is supposed to have targeted. The shark was of the Near-threatened species of Hexanchus griseus, and was protected by the Greek law. The hunting was banned since 1981. Public opinion and WWF condemned his action.[24] The WWF also noted that the Minister's picture is “shameful and shows no bravery,” but a disregard for Greek law.[25]

In 2017, Panos Kammenos made a trip to London where he admitted staying in an expensive hotel and using the Greek Embassy's luxury car to go shopping for a Barbie doll for his daughter. Opposition said that the amount of money he declared in his bank account “no way justifies the expenses that he appears to be constantly making,” but there haven't been any investigations of his behavior or spending.[26] Later, he also admitted that he visited and played at the hotel's casino. The New Democracy's vice president Adonis Georgiadis commented that according to the code of conduct of the Ministers the presence of the Minister of Defence at a casino is a criminal offence.[27] President of To Potami, Stavros Theodorakis, wondered how Panos Kammenos could afford to go on vacations to the Alps and play at the casino while he officially claims that his bank deposits worth only 8,500 euros.[28] The same year his name was also involved in an arm deal scandal. The deal was to sell 66 million euros in missiles and bombs to Saudi Arabia. Opposition accused him that the attempted deal was being done through a shadowy middleman, a broker that was in violation of laws requiring defense contracts to be at the government-to-government level after former defense ministers were caught up in scandals and stealing scores of millions of euros. The Greek Consul in Saudi Arabia said that Saudi authorities were unaware of who the middleman was, and asked for the agreement to become government to government.[29][30] In addition the middleman was a convicted arms smuggler.[31] Also, human rights groups, like Amnesty International, called on Greece to immediately stop the sale and transfer of military equipment to Saudi Arabia as the munitions could end up being used by the Gulf state in its war against neighbouring Yemen, where civilians were also targeted.[32] Same year, after a Eurogroup meeting and a deal between Greece and EU, the Twitter account of Panos Kammenos tweeted a photo of a tie with Phallus. After six minutes the tweet deleted and the minister claimed it was “the kid” who did it. He did not clarify whether it was his son or some hacker. His explanation was not accepted and the opposition, twitter users and media condemned the tweet. People wondered if Kammenos had intentionally uploaded the controversial tie photo in a clumsy but clear attempt to link the agreement with the promise of prime minister Alexis Tsipras to wear a tie when the country returns to growth.[33][34]

In September 2018, Greek journalists detained over an article that alleges mishandling of European Union funds meant to improve conditions in migrant hotspots across the country. The journalists were detained following a complaint by Defense Minister Panos Kammenos, whose ministry is handling the EU funding. The article published alleged some of the recipients of EU funding were businessmen connected to Kammenos. Opposition parties have condemned the detention.[35] The detention of the journalists was condemned by the opposition and by the Journalists’ Union of Athens Daily Newspapers.[36] The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Harlem Désir, denounced the arrest of the journalists and welcomed that the prosecutor decided not to immediately press charges, a move that led to their release. He called on authorities to decriminalize defamation.[37] The European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) started an investigation over the potential misuse of EU funds. The OLAF spokesperson said that the investigation into “alleged irregularities concerning the provision of EU-funded food for refugees in Greece” was launched following information submitted by the European Commission's directorate general for migration and home affairs in 2017 and “As the investigation is on-going, OLAF cannot issue any further comment at this stage”.[38] Adding that “The fact that OLAF is looking into the matter does not mean that any-one person or entity involved has committed an irregularity or fraud. OLAF fully respects the presumption of innocence.”[39] A source from the Commission said the case involving the Greek Defence ministry was the only known example of irregularities that were sent to OLAF after 2017's annual Directorate-General of Migration and Home Affairs (DG HOME).[39]

On January 13 2019, Kammenos and his Independent Greeks party quit Greece's ruling coalition over a deal struck on the Macedonia naming dispute, potentially leaving the governing coalition without a workable majority in parliament.[40]

Personal lifeEdit

Kammenos is described as "a devout Orthodox Christian."[41]

He is the owner of Iliatoras of London, a 60 feet yacht (18m). The yacht was purchased by his father in 1993 using an offshore shell company for tax avoidance purposes.[42]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Alderman, Liz (26 January 2015). "After Victory at Greek Polls, Alexis Tsipras Is Sworn In and Forms Coalition Government". New York Times. New York. Retrieved 26 January 2015.
  2. ^ "Greek cabinet unveiled, Varoufakis confirmed finance minister". Reuters. London. 27 January 2015. Retrieved 27 January 2015.
  3. ^ "Panagiotis (Panos) Kammenos". Athens: Hellenic Parliament. Retrieved 27 January 2015.
  4. ^ Dearden, Lizzie (26 January 2015). "Independent Greeks: Who are Syriza's right-wing coalition partners and what do they want?". The Independent. London. Retrieved 26 January 2015.
  5. ^ "Independent MP announces new party". Athens News. 24 February 2012. Archived from the original on 27 February 2012. Retrieved 18 March 2012.
  6. ^ Squires, Nick (26 January 2015). "Greek election: who are Independent Greeks?". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 26 January 2015.
  7. ^ "Right-wing party promises Syriza support in Greece coalition". Deutsche Welle. Berlin/Bonn. 26 January 2015. Retrieved 26 January 2015.
  8. ^ a b Smith, Helena; Ian Traynor (27 January 2015). "Greek PM Alexis Tsipras unveils cabinet of mavericks and visionaries". The Guardian. Retrieved 27 January 2015.
  9. ^ Duperry, Odile (27 January 2015). "Kammenos: from conservative rebel to Greek PM's unlikely ally". Agence France-Presse. Paris. Retrieved 28 January 2015.
  10. ^ "Independent Greeks Party wins 3.7% of the vote". Retrieved 20 September 2015.
  11. ^ Coalson, Robert (28 January 2015). "New Greek Government Has Deep, Long-Standing Ties With Russian 'Fascist' Dugin". Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Retrieved 16 April 2015.
  12. ^ "Greek Tragedy and CDS in question". Business Insider. 2 June 2011. Retrieved 7 June 2017.
  13. ^ Καταδίκη Π. Καμμένου για εξύβριση του Αντρ. Παπανδρέου
  14. ^ Αποζημίωση 100.000 ευρώ θα καταβάλει ο Π. Καμμένος για τα CDS
  15. ^ Καταδίκη 100.000 ευρώ στον Καμμένο για τα CDS
  16. ^ Smith, Helena (18 July 2013). "Security tight in Greece as German finance minister Schäuble arrives". Business Insider. Retrieved 9 March 2015.
  17. ^ Kammenos to be probed for suggesting Halkidiki mayor should be lynched
  18. ^ Greek party leader probed over "lynch" remark
  19. ^ "In Greece, church's tangled ties with government raise questions". Washington Post. Retrieved 14 July 2015.
  20. ^ Δελτίο τύπου 15/12/2014 [The president of Indpependent Greeks Panos Kammenos on the Antenna TV Morning ANT1 with George Papadakis]. ΠΡΩΙΝΟ ΑΝΤ1 (in Greek). 15 December 2014. Event occurs at 14:03 (20:38 minutes in). Antenna TV. Ο ΠΡΟΕΔΡΟΣ ΤΩΝ ΑΝΕΞΑΡΤΗΤΩΝ ΕΛΛΗΝΩΝ ΠΑΝΟΣ ΚΑΜΜΕΝΟΣ ΣΤΗΝ ΕΚΠΟΜΠΗ ΤΟΥ ΑΝΤΕΝΝΑ ΤV «ΠΡΩΙΝΟ ΑΝΤ1» ΜΕ ΤΟΝ ΓΙΩΡΓΟ ΠΑΠΑΔΑΚΗ. Retrieved 14 July 2015.
  21. ^ "Politician who said Jews don't pay tax appointed as Greece's defense chief". Haaretz. 29 January 2015. Retrieved 13 March 2015.
  22. ^ "Greece's warnings of a 'migrant flood' faces backlash from Europe". Ethnos. Retrieved 15 March 2015.
  23. ^ Greece's defence minister threatens to send migrants including jihadists to Western Europe by Bruno Waterfield, The Daily Telegraph, 9 March 2015.
  24. ^ Σχετικά με τον «μεγαλοκαρχαρία» του Υπουργού Εθνικής Άμυνας Πάνου Καμμένου
  25. ^ https://greece.greekreporter.com/2016/01/11/wwf-slams-greek-defense-minister-over-dead-shark-photo/ WWF Slams Greek Defense Minister Over Dead Shark Photo]
  26. ^ "Defense Minister Kammenos' London Trip: Casino Stop, Barbie Doll Hunt". thenationalherald. Retrieved 23 September 2017.
  27. ^ "«Casino gate» hits the Greek government". in. Retrieved 23 September 2017.
  28. ^ "Defence Minister Kammenos admits he visited London casino". protothema. Retrieved 25 September 2017.
  29. ^ Kammenos Will Face Committee Over Aborted Saudi Arms Deal
  30. ^ Greek Defense Minister’s Saudi Arms Deal Raises Serious Questions
  31. ^ Pressure on Greece to scrap arms deal with Saudi Arabia
  32. ^ Pressure on Greece to scrap arms deal with Saudi Arabia
  33. ^ "Obscene tweet on Defense Minister Kammenos' account shocks Greeks". keeptalkinggreece. Retrieved 16 June 2017.
  34. ^ "Το tweet του Καμμένου που κατέβηκε αμέσως". cnn. Retrieved 16 June 2017.
  35. ^ "2 Greek journalists detained after minister files complaint". fox23. Retrieved 22 September 2018.
  36. ^ https://www.esiea.gr/i-esiea-zitei-na-katargithei-i-diadikas/?print=pdf
  37. ^ OSCE Representative denounces arrest of Greek journalists after criminal defamation suit by Defence Minister, urges decriminalization of defamation
  38. ^ EU watchdog probes possible misuse of refugee funds in Greece
  39. ^ a b €52 million grant given to Greek Defence Ministry under investigation by OLAF
  40. ^ https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/01/greek-government-splits-macedonia-change-190113183705772.html
  41. ^ "Greece and geopolitics: A semi-guided missile". The Economist. 28 February 2015. Retrieved 7 March 2015.
  42. ^ "Prosecutors to probe Kammenos for tax evasion over yacht". www.ekathimerini.com.

External linksEdit

Political offices
Preceded by
Nikos Dendias
Minister of National Defence
2015–2019
Succeeded by
Evangelos Apostolakis