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Tsipras makes fresh war reparations demand

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Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras. Photo: DPA
08:49 CET+01:00
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said that Germany owes his country war compensation worth hundreds of billions ahead of Wednesday's negotiations in Brussels on his country's debts.

“With this we would honour all the victims of the second world war under the Nazis, and likewise the Greek resistance,” Tsipras told Greece's parliament on Tuesday evening.

The parliament subsequently unanimously approved a motion to reactivate a special committee examining the issue, a forced war loan and the seizure of archaeological relics by German occupation forces.

Tsipras said that a reparations agreement from 1960 did not cover some of the Greeks' central demands, including payments for destroyed infrastructure and war crimes, and the repayment of a loan which was forcibly levied by the Nazis in 1942, reports Die Zeit.

He mentioned that Germany was “justly” helped back onto its feet after the Second World War, through cancellation of its debts.

Since then Germany has deployed “legal tricks” in order to avoid talking to Athens about reparations, he said.

Tsipras' predecessors in Athens had already commissioned a study on the question of German reparations, which was completed in March 2013.

Kept under strict secrecy until being published by an Athenian newspaper last Sunday, it details total demands in of between €269 and €332 billion.

On the basis of this study, the Greek High Court is currently considering how potential sanctions claims against Germany could be levied.

German assets to be seized?

The Tsipras government is also considering the seizure of German assets in Greece, reports Der Spiegel.

During the debate in parliament Justice Minister Nikos Paraskevopoulos said that in this way the victims of a massacre in a village called Distomo who were massacred by Nazi forces on June 10, 1944, would be compensated.

But Paraskevopoulos said that his further contemplation of the issue would rest on contemporary “national questions.”

This formulation would seem to suggest that the Greek government is tying the reparations to the current negotiations on Greek debt, although the two are not officially linked.

On Wednesday Paraskevopoulos hardened his stance, saying he was "ready to approve" a Greek Supreme Court ruling in 2000 that ordered Germany to pay around €28 million to the relatives of civilians in Distomo.

Under the Supreme Court ruling, assets such as property belonging to Germany's archaeological school and the Goethe Institute (Germany's international language and culture associaton) could be seized as compensation.

"The law states that the minister must give the order for the Supreme Court ruling to be carried out.... I am ready to give that order," Paraskevopoulos told Antenna TV.

The German government sees the question of compensation as settled.

In a response to a parliamentary question by Die Linke (the Left Party) last year, the government issued a statement saying that reparations demands had lost their "eligibility" and that "reparations payments at a period over 65 years after a military conflict would be without precedent."

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