The head of the national guard on Thursday took exception to the auditor-general revealing potentially sensitive information about the military, such as weapons storage depots and the state of munitions.

Lieutenant-General Georgios Tzitzikostas was reacting during a discussion in parliament of a recently released Audit Office report on the defence ministry, which also covers the national guard.

The dossier flags a number of instances of financial mismanagement and waste of taxpayer money, with a defence ministry official countering that most of the cases have been either resolved or are being looked into.

But the report also zeroed in on matters relating to the operation of the military. One such matter had to do with the observation that certain weapons warehouses do not adequately enforce the safety regulations provided for by the army’s standing order.

Andreas Louka, permanent secretary at the defence ministry, acknowledged the importance of the issue but also suggested that fears are exaggerated.

“We still carry the Mari syndrome, so people worry,” he told MPs.

He was alluding to the incident of July 2011 at Mari naval base, when a munitions cache self-detonated, killing 13 people.

Louka pointed out that up until the year 2023, 23 new munition storage depots have been established and that “the safety level is very high.”

For his part, the national guard commander appeared annoyed with the direction of the conversation. Tzitzikostas quipped that the auditor-general’s method of auditing “is very odd…they even walked into the warehouses”.

On the munitions, the lieutenant-general said the matter “is a very serious and critical one, so that certain aspects of it should not be publicised.”

He added: “For security reasons, such things should be concealed from our adversaries…nor should we try to create impressions by creating a sense of insecurity among the population.”

The national guard chief said the president himself has been briefed about the safekeeping of munitions, and that a detailed inspection took place between September and November of 2023.

Regarding another finding of the Audit Office – that one military facility continues to store a large amount of grenades despite them having been deemed unsuitable – Tzitzikostas insisted that all safety regulations are adhered to.

“If a certain munition is unreliable, we withdraw it…but such procedures take time,” he said.

“By making everything public, we cause harm to these procedures. I’m asking for better cooperation. I’m not asking that we hide our dirty laundry.”