ATHENS – Defense Minister Panos Kammenos is being ridiculed over his trip to London where he admitted staying in an expensive hotel and using the Greek Embassy’s luxury car – a Jaguar – to go shopping for a Barbie doll for his daughter while critics said he also went to a casino.
The wealthy Kammenos, leader of the pro-austerity, marginal, jingoistic Independent Greeks (ANEL) is allowed by Prime Minister and Radical Left SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras to largely have his way because the right-wing party’s votes are needed to give the coalition a bare majority in Parliament.
With ANEL barely registering in polls that show there’s no chance of getting back into Parliament in the next elections, Kammenos – who said he has only 8500 euros ($10,116) in the bank – didn’t explain his jaunt nor why he needed a Jaguar to go looking for dolls that are available online.
He didn’t comment on charges he went gambling, as the business newspaper Naftemporiki and other media reported on his London venture or whether he used taxpayer money.
The reports and photos were all over Greek media and Internet and had him acknowledging only his use of the Jaguar.
Rival political parties piled on fast in mocking him. “Does Mr. Kammenos understand all of what he’s doing? We’re waiting for his explanations …. Will Mr. Tsipras keep watching his ministers provoke a suffering Greek society for much longer?”the main opposition New Democracy (ND) party asked, via a press release.
The centrist To Potami was more provocative in wondering where he gets the money. “Everyone has the right to spend his money as he sees fit; some in casinos, others on books; someone may choose luxury trips, another will chose exotic trips … for lawmakers, however, two conditions exist: That they’re not spending public money or money from unknown wallets,” the party stated.
Kammenos stayed at one of London’s toniest hotels with rates about 500 euros ($595) per night. It wasn’t detailed how long he stayed but the photos showed him with the Jaguar and carrying shopping bags.
Critics said 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.