The Government Council for Foreign Affairs and Defence (KYSEA) convened under the chairmanship of Prime Minister George Papandreou on Tuesday and, following a proposal by Defence Minister Panos Beglitis, decided on sweeping changes in the armed forces’ leadership.
According to reports, Lieutenant General Michael Kostarakos was appointed National Defence General Staff chief, Constantine Ziazias new Army General Staff chief, Antonios Tsantirakis new Air Force General Staff chief and Kosmas Christidis new Navy General Staff chief.
The government’s decision drew strong reaction from opposition parties. Main opposition New Democracy (ND) defence spokesman Margaritis Tzimas spoke of ”an undemocratic act which is directed against national interest”, adding that ”at the time when the Pasok government is collapsing, it is proceeding with… changes in the leadership of the country’s armed forces”. He said that his party would not recognise the decisions. The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) called on the minister and the government to give clear explanations to the people on why they replaced the armed forces leadership under these conditions.
The Popular Orthodox Rally (Laos) termed the appointments ”politically indecent and morally unacceptable” and added that ”a few hours before the government’s fall, the leadership of the armed forces has been broken up in its entirety.” Lastly, a Radical Left Coalition (Syriza) official said it was unacceptable for the defence minister to decide on such an important issue at a time when the government is facing collapse.