Instead of focusing on the emotionally charged issue of reparations for the second world war, Berlin and Athens should set up a future fund for the joint rehabilitation of a “shared” history …
The triumph of Alexis Tsipras’s SYRIZA in last month’s elections means that the old debate about whether Germany still owes Greece wartime reparation payments is emphatically back on the table. “I can’t overlook what is an ethical duty, a duty to history … to lay claim to the wartime debt,” Tsipras said, while addressing parliament on Sunday.
Germany’s Deputy Chancellor, Sigmar Gabriel, has rejected Tsipras’ demands outright: “The probability is zero.”
Calls for wartime repayments are often seen as being a sleight of hand on behalf of those “bankrupt” Greeks, trying to cover their debts by tricking poor German taxpayers out of their hard-earned euros. But it’s worth having a closer look at what kind of debt we are actually talking about.