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Hellenic Republic Ministry of National Defence

Defence Minister Panos Kammenos' speech during the discussion of bills of the Ministry of National Defence

INTRODUCTION

«Mr. Speaker,

Before the discussion begins, if I may, I would like to say this: Firstly, I saw the expired amendment by my colleague MP Mr. Lazaridis, which is absolutely reasonable and satisfies an important need, but I cannot now accept it without a consent opinion by the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Justice.

So, I would suggest, while the discussion about all the three bills begins, to contact Mr. Alexiadis and Mr. Paraskeuopoulos and, if both ministries agree, I think that this is an amendment that we can accept. But this is not possible without the consent of the two ministers and, of course, without the opinion of the General Accounting Office of the State on whether this causes a financial burden.

However, since it responds to an important need, particularly of enterprises that face a big liquidity problems, I believe that, perhaps, after you achieve an agreement – we will try it too, although you submitted the amendment at the last moment, if we knew it since the day before yesterday, it would be easier – we will be able to consider it positively. Please contact them and after this we will probably consider it.

As far as the other two amendments are concerned, I would like to propose, if the parties agree – I believe this is a chance for the Parliament – in the context of the amendment on the driving license which has been interrupted since a long while due to the problems that had been created, to consider and discuss the minimum age for obtaining a license, whether it may be reduced from 18 to 17 years of age, under the condition that the minor will be driving under an adult’s supervision.

We will examine it and Ms. Chrysoveloni will consider this too. It is a suggestion and since we are discussing about the right of vote at the age of 17, I think that we should allow 17-year-old children who are capable of obtaining a driving license, to obtain it. There is a chance to consider this too until the end of the session. I have spoken to the Prime Minister and he deals with it positively.

Thank you, Mr.Speaker”.

SPEECH

“Mr. Speaker,

At first, I would like us, in the bill on the “Ratification of the Agreement on the South-Eastern Europe Defence Ministerial - Coordination Committee”, to add the phrase “and other provisions” in order to include also the two ministerial amendments discussed by the Parliament.

I would like to say that today we will have a very interesting discussion, a discussion which, as I believe, must be repeated and regards the operation of the Parliament. Indeed, I am among the first ones in the Parliament, together with Mr. Davakis, in 1993, to have obtained a “red” phone. I do not know what this means in particular, we should discuss this.

In the framework of the discussion about the revision of the Constitution and the new Elections Law, there must also be a discussion about the operation of the Parliament. There must be a day when amendments will be discussed, really discussed – whether submitted by MPs or by Ministers – with all the required preparation. Maybe, this discussion must begin because it will help Greek people to show more confidence to the parliamentary procedures, to the legislative operation. I would like to say that I would accept this gladly.
 
I would like, dear colleagues, to assure youthat the Ministry of Defence examines every question submitted by every colleague one by one and I too examine them personally. Indeed, there are questions which are not answered. They are divided into two categories:
 
The first category regards questions submitted by many colleagues, replied in the Parliament and re-submitted. I do not reply to these questions on purpose because we must help the parliamentary control. You see that I am present here – and I will always be present – because this is my duty, here and in the Committees as well, to reply to questions. Yet this is also the duty of the MPs. When a current question is being considered, it cannot be submitted the next day 50 times in written form and be replied. This is not right.
 
The second category is the questions which the Ministry chooses to reply in the plenary session. I do it on purpose. These are questions which should rather not be replied to an MP in written form by the Minister or, in many cases, by an office of the Ministry, but they should be replied with political explanations and open a political dialogue.
 
As far as national matters are concerned, there are also two categories. There are issues that we must discuss – and it is to the best interest of the country if there is a national position formed in the Parliament – yet there are also questions about inexistent issues. I receive many times questions about issues which do not exist and I am not talking about you personally. There are published articles which have no relation with reality. If the Minister of National Defence replies about a fact, for example, about a story published in a newspaper which has never happened, at the end the impression that will be created is that he is trying to conceal the fact, which has never happened. That is, there will remain only the reply about something that did not take place.
 
I wish, therefore, to assure you that I read the questions, one by one, I answer them, I will be answering them. I will ask colleagues to use your capability of submitting the questions in the Parliament and we will discuss them here, not as current questions, but as questions. If they are not replied in a certain time period, you may submit them before the Parliament. I am always ready to hear them. And we may even set a day. I want to answer them, I assure you. And the government wants to reply too.

There are questions which could really open an issue for discussion, a dialogue. For example, the issue of the military driving license was mentioned. We agree on that. What is the problem, however? That when the military service lasted 23 months or 12 months it was possible for someone to attend a six-month course and obtain an E category driving license. I remember my fellow soldiers, when I was serving; E category drivers could get a civilian license and gained a professional qualification. When the service lasts 9 months, of which 45 days will be at the Training Centre, a private then is trained for six months and serves as driver in the Armed Forces for one month.

Also regarding the directorate for the construction of works – because there we need operators of machines – we are considering very thoroughly the possibility of conscripts of short reenlistment; that is to give the opportunity to machinery operators or professional drivers to extent their service for two more years and three months and, as conscripts of short reenlistment, to obtain a civilian license. We will ask the Ministry of Transport to examine the possibility of reactivating this license, particularly the professional license, which was a qualification in the past.
 
I agree with the suggestion of Mr. Mitarakis and of the colleague of the Democratic Coalition party, on the matter of my proposal. I really proposed it for a discussion to begin and I am glad that it began.
 
I would like to answer the colleague that I trust a seventeen-year-old more than anybody else. I have a 17-year-old son and I would confide him my car. I said “under adult supervision” for reasons of civil responsibility. Because, if he is not supervised by an adult who has a driving license, it will be the parent who will bear the criminal and civil liability. I wish we find out a way to overcome this.

I am pleased from the proposal which was submitted. On the occasion of the acceptance to discuss the new Traffic Code by the Government and the Deputy Minister, I would like to add that all these matters should be discussed by experts. We must call on experts.

In 1996, a Committee for the Inquiry of Traffic Accidents operated in this Parliament. During a whole summer, a discussion was being conducted by the Committee which resulted in an excellent finding which – as the other findings too – was not used. We threw it away. This discussion must be opened because indeed the entire examinations system is old. Until recently, it was also corrupted. Some people paid and got their license. All this must change also for security reasons, because the traffic accidents every year end up causing as many fatalities among Greek drivers as the population of a small town.

Finally, as far as amendments are concerned, I do not hide you that I too feel bad when I come here as Minister and irrelevant amendments are included. There is a problem in the regulation.
 

I will tell you this however: Yesterday, I asked the General Secretary of the Government and Minister Mr. Skourletis the amendment from the agreement with Finland – which is a bilateral one – to be removed and be included into another bill. This is why it is marked as “time-expired” if you noticed. The ministerial amendment on the Regulatory Authority for Energy is marked as “ expired” because Mr. Skourletis withdrew the amendment from the bill and brought it in an agreement which is not bilateral. Yet, indeed, there is an issue in all ministries for problems like the one of ELGA to be dealt with.

This is why I propose a special session of the Parliament in the framework of the amendment of the Regulation, Mr. Deputy Speaker. We must discuss these issues and ministers’ and MPs’ amendments as well, because we would be able to accept today also the amendment submitted by Mr. Lazaridis. It is reasonable, yet certain conditions are required. The consent of the Ministry of Finance, a report of the General Accounting Office of the State and of the Ministry of Justice are required.

I hope that this amendment too– because I did not see any reply from the Ministries so far – we will be able to discuss it, in the framework of the discussion about the bill of the Ministry of Finance or the amendment of the Code of Administrative Proceedings within the next days.

Taxpayers are indeed obliged to pay a tax and it is absolutely fair for him to be able to proceed in a real security and not undergo all the troubles that professionals have undergone. It is absolutely reasonable, but we cannot at this moment accept it. I hope and I commit myself personally that we will send this amendment to the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Justice to be discussed.

Mr. Speaker,

On the issue of the international agreements, I would like to inform that the Ministry of National Defence is committed. I said before the Committee that we had approximately 37 agreements which had not been introduced for ratification. At this moment there are only 17 left. We have voted agreements which had been pending since 2002, 2003 and some since 2009. By the end of this year all these agreements will have been discussed and closed and the government commits itself that when an international agreement is signed it will be submitted for ratification by the Parliament within three months from its signature date.

Despite the disagreement, I think that we had a good discussion today. I would like, nevertheless, to say that it is not fair to say that the Government does not respect the Parliament. On the contrary, the Prime Minister is quite often in the Paliament and in parliamentary control. Let me remind you that Mr. Samaras did not attend the Parliament not even once when he was Prime Minister. Not even once.

It would be much better if the leader of the opposition were here too, instead of discussions being made in the media. The leader of the opposition should be here too, both during the discussions of the legislative work and the debate of the Order of the Day.
 
Konstantinos Mitsotakis attended the parliamentary control.
 
Thank you.”