Greece has sold 101 Soviet-made BMP-1 armoured infantry combat vehicles to Egypt, Germany’s leading business website, Handelsblatt reported.
In 1994, Greece received 501 of these tanks which originally belonged to the army of former communist East Germany.
The website sources its story on a report Greece made last year to the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms (UNROCA). The agency says the vast majority of official arms transfers are captured by it.
The BMP-1 is rated as a milestone in armament history. It was introduced in 1967 and was used in warfare for the first time in the Yom Kippur war fought against Israel from 6-25 October 1973 by a coalition of Arab states led by Egypt and Syria.
More than 30 armies worldwide still trust in the abilities of the flexibly usable more than 13-tonner that can carry three crew and eight infantry soldiers. Its cannon can fire six shots a minute and it is fully amphibious.
In the past the Greek government asked for German permission for making similar deals.
“Whether this transfer required notification can’t be answered promptly because the vehicles had been passed on to Greece 27 years ago,” a spokesman for the German defence ministry said.
“The ministry keeps records on such proceedings for only five years.”
The ministry needed at least three weeks to trace the case and no statement could be made “before early September”.
The opposition in Berlin is sharply critical of the sale of German tanks into a crisis area. Sevim Dagdelen, spokeswoman on foreign relations of the Left Party (Die Linke) demanded: “The federal government must very quickly reveal who waved the arms deal with Egypt through.” She sees the credibility of German foreign policy at risk.
“Should the government know nothing about the case,” Dagdelen went on, “that would be further evidence that it doesn’t bother about where exported arms end up.”