Greek Cypriot National Guard Russian-made T-82 tanks roll during the annual Cyprus Independence Day parade in 2003 in Nicosia. Joint Greek and Greek Cypriot war games will take place as planned in 2003. (STR / AFP)
ATHENS — A private sponsor will supply the necessary fuel to enable Greek tanks to join an Oct. 28 military parade for the first time in three years, the defense minister said Monday.
“Military parades will be carried out with glory and honor ... not wretchedness,” Defence Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos told reporters, according to the state-run Athens News Agency.
A military parade is held annually in Thessaloniki on Oct. 28 to commemorate Greece’s resistance to the Axis Powers during World War II.
ANA identified Motor Oil Hellas, a leading refiner owned by the Vardinogiannis family, one of the country’s wealthiest, as the benefactor, saying it would provide the fuel free of charge.
The move has sparked friction in Greece’s two-party ruling coalition between the conservatives and the socialists, who had scaled down military parades to save costs when they were in government in 2010.
The cuts were announced by then-Defence Minister Evangelos Venizelos — who is now deputy prime minister — to save around €2 million (US $2.7 million) in operational costs.
Each warplane overflight costs €35,000, a defense ministry source had said at the time.
On Monday, Avramopoulos said that only units stationed near Thessaloniki would be included in the parade, and that the extra cost would be just €35,000.
And the conservative New Democracy party said a single exhibition plane would overfly the parade “as a token contribution from the air force.”
Formerly one of Europe’s biggest weapons purchasers, Greece nearly went bankrupt in 2010, and its economy has been sustained by EU and IMF bailout packages ever since.
It has been forced to make drastic spending cuts on wages and pensions over the past four years.