World War II is long over, except in the mind of Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras who is pressing Germany to pay reparations while asking for loans too.
Greece Sours Relations With Germany
The Guardian – Helena Smith
Greece’s strained relations with Germany took a turn for the worse on Wednesday when Athens’ leftist-led government raised the spectre of seizing German assets for war reparations that it claimed Berlin has stubbornly refused to honour.
In an address before the Greek parliament, Alexis Tspiras, the Greek prime minister, said Germany had “a moral obligation” to make amends for the atrocities wrought during three devastating years of Nazi occupation. Berlin, he said, had deliberately flouted its duty employing “legal tricks and delay”.
“Germany has never properly paid reparations for the damage done to Greece by the Nazi occupation,” the premier told the house as deputies debated establishing a committee to seek war reparations, repayment of a forced loan and the return of plundered antiquities.
“After the reunification of Germany in 1990, the legal and political conditions were created for this issue to be solved. But, since then, German governments chose silence, legal tricks and delay.”
The litany of crimes carried out by Nazi troops – including widespread reprisal executions, pillaging and the massacres of entire villages – were still “vivid”, he said.
As such, Europe’s paymaster had a “moral obligation to remember what the (German) forces did to the country”. And his new government, elevated to power on 25 January, had a debt of duty to those who fought Nazism and to those who died at its hands.
The issue of war reparations has long dogged Greek-German ties but Athens’ decision to again bring the matter to centre stage comes at a particularly sensitive time.
Negotiations to keep the debt-stricken nation afloat are at a critical stage with Greece’s ability to stay solvent, and in the eurozone, almost entirely dependent on Berlin – the provider of the vast bulk of its €240bn bailout programme.
Germany Won’t Negotiate Over Nazi Atrocities
Wall Street Journal – Andrea Thomas
Berlin on Wednesday rejected mounting calls from Athens that Germany should pay compensation for Nazi atrocities in Greece, further souring the mood between the eurozone’s main paymaster and Greece’s cash-strapped government.
After a Greek government minister suggested Athens could seize German assets, a German government spokesman dismissed the threat as groundless and urged Athens to focus on a more pressing issue: Fulfilling the conditions for the release of much-needed financial aid.
“The issue [of reparation] has been closed legally and politically and there won’t be any negotiations about this. It has been settled in a comprehensive and conclusive way,” said Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert. “We should focus on today’s issues” and future cooperation of both countries, he said.
Greece’s renewed emphasis on claims which Germany insists are settled comes amid rising tension between the two over the left-wing Greek government’s resistance to implementing the tough economic measures Germany and other eurozone countries insist are necessary to unlock further financial aid.
Athens has relied on international bailout money to cover government expenditures and debt repayments since 2010.
But the unpopular measures it had to implement in exchange for this aid shifted the political mood sharply to the left. This culminated in an election victory for the Syriza protest movement in January on a pledge to roll back the overhauls and increase spending.
Syriza’s rise to power also gave new momentum to Greece’s claims for wartime reparations, an issue that came to the fore after the start of Greece’s debt crisis.
The claims have tapped into a deep-seated feeling of injustice in Greek society but angered Berlin, which sees them as an unwelcome distraction from the more urgent tasks of fixing the economy and the state’s finances.
Germany Used Legal Tricks to Avoid WWII Reparations
Reuters – Lefteris Papadimas
Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras accused Germany on Tuesday of using legal tricks to avoid paying reparations for the Nazi occupation of Greece and said he would support parliamentary efforts to review the matter.
His comments are likely to heighten tensions between Athens and Berlin as Greece’s new, leftist government struggles to persuade its euro zone partners to renegotiate the terms of a 240 billion euro ($260 billion) bailout.
Germany last month rejected renewed calls from Greece for war compensation, saying the issue had been settled at world power talks that led to German reunification in 1990.
But Tsipras said his government approved plans to revive a parliamentary commission to look into the issue.
“After the reunification of Germany in 1990, the legal and political conditions were created for this issue to be solved. But since then, German governments chose silence, legal tricks and delay,” Tsipras told a parliamentary debate.
“And I wonder, because there is a lot of talk at the European level these days about moral issues: is this stance moral?” he said.
The campaign for war damages has been waged for decades both by former Greek governments and private citizens. But it has recently gained momentum due to painful economic measures imposed on Greece under the international bailout deal.
The Greek government has not officially quantified its reparation claims, and Berlin has long said that it has already honored all its war obligations, including a payment of 115 million deutschmarks (59 million euros) to Greece in 1960.
Tsipras said the 1960 deal only covered compensation for the victims of Nazi horrors, not the destruction wrought on Greece by the 1941-1944 occupation during World War Two.Source: The National Herald