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Greece's Papandreou says WWII reparations issue still open

AFP/DPA/The Local · 19 Mar 2010, 16:45

Published: 19 Mar 2010 12:10 GMT+01:00
Updated: 19 Mar 2010 16:45 GMT+01:00

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“That’s an open issue,” Papandreou said on Thursday in Brussels while attempting to shore up EU support for Greece’s efforts to stay solvent. “But it’s not advisable to put it on the table right now.”

He admitted dredging up the past would send the wrong signal at a time Greece needed backing from fellow eurozone members to contend with its crushing mountain of debt, which was a problem of its own making.

“We’re not looking for a scapegoat,” Papandreou said.

Though several other Greek politicians have suggested Germany still owes Greece compensation for the Nazi occupation during World War II, it is the first time Papandreou has suggested the issue is unresolved.

His deputy Theodoros Pangalos has said Germany never repaid Greece for gold stolen by the Nazis, but Germany says it has already paid millions of euros worth of reparations on several occasions over the decades.

Relations between Athens and Berlin have been burdened by nasty insults hurled in the media in recent weeks. While the Greeks have labelled Germany “fiscal Nazis” for demanding that Greece get its financial house in order, the Germans have suggested Greece sell a few islands and accused them of threatening the euro by doctoring their books to get into the single currency.

But Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman said on Friday Germany is open to International Monetary Fund aid for Greece.

"The German government does not rule out aid from the IMF if Greece requests it," spokesman Ulrich Wilhelm said at a regular news conference.

Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble earlier this month floated the idea of a eurozone version of the IMF, with Berlin keen to see the 11-year-old, 16-nation currency union able to solve its own problems. IMF aid to Greece would also involve the United States, since Washington is the biggest contributor to the fund.

Merkel's spokesman stressed that possible aid to Greece and the creation of a European lender of last resort, which Berlin believes would require changes to the EU's governing treaties, were two very separate issues.

"The questions have to be differentiated, for example for whether there will be support for Greece ... plays no role in the issue of treaty changes," Wilhelm said.

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He said that any changes to the EU treaties, the prospect of which has received a cool response from some of Germany's EU partners including France, would be "very laborious" and would take "several years."

He said that talks on creating an EMF "should be discussed further, and are being discussed further ... and are in no way over." Wilhelm also stressed that Greece has not asked for aid.

"There is no decision pending because Greece has not asked for help and because we expect Greece to be able to solve its problems with its consolidation efforts," he said.

AFP/DPA/The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

14:10 March 19, 2010 by Gaffers
Dredging up the past will send the wrong signal BUT ... We'll still do it anyway.

So Greeces problems stem from the war 65 years ago and not their own fiscal policies. I'm sure when they called the Fiscal Nazis it wasn't meant to imply any link to the past either.

This behaviour from the Greeks is completely out of order. At a time when they need help they end up isolating themselves through petty name calling and insults. They've made their own bed ...
14:23 March 19, 2010 by DavidtheNorseman
They win. Cottbus is theirs. Case closed.
15:12 March 19, 2010 by Der Grenadier aus Aachen
Reparations to Greece are still in issue in the same way that many feel the post-unification border with Poland was never properly addressed.

Complete idiocy.
15:23 March 19, 2010 by dbert4
The Greeks and ungrateful waenkers! And the Polish border issue wasn't addresses. The Russian took part of Poland and kept, and the Germany have to give them East Prussia?
15:48 March 19, 2010 by gagaou
As the Germans would say this is a situation of legal obligations. If their is a valid claim they should pay, if not they should not care. But it seems like they care.

BTW, Poland is not the only case, you also have Alsace.
15:58 March 19, 2010 by magdelana
All this bull is rather disconcerting. The war was 60 years ago. The nazis involved have died. The people were never to blame and have suffered enough. The citizens now can not be expected to pay. If Germany keeps giving and does not take care of its

own debt it will be sunk. i think Greece will take what it can get and still want more not careing about the consequence's the other EU countries will face.
16:10 March 19, 2010 by Stef34
It's really disappointing to see your electronic pages making an issue out of no such thing.

Papandreou did indeed say it is a open issue, only to avoid political attacks in his country by his political adversaries. However, you chose to focus on this part of his answer and not on the other one, which implied that they won't focus on this issue or that it's not worth focusing on.

Also, you forgot to mention that the Greeks reacted only after they had been insulted by the Focus and Bild. Had they not been so outrageously provoked they wouldn't have brought anything up to respond to the German insults.

And keep in mind that all the claims for German reparations is only politics talk; the people couldn't care less about this, nor do they have any such claims on Germany. It is again the politicians who referred to it for political reasons only.

If anything, I expected more mature thinking on your and your readers' behalf.
16:48 March 19, 2010 by michael4096

Good points! But, remember, the story was squashed between..

"Meet Germany's spring zoo babies"


"Mob of marauding minks snacking on woodland creatures"

Perhaps, it was a polemic on animal behaviour.
17:33 March 19, 2010 by cbatchelor
Not a particularly good time to bring up 1945 is it?

With the European Union dizzying over Monetary policy.

Knowing the Greeks that bought too many AAA+ rated

securities on Wall street-what an great investment!!

If this was such an issue-why they not table it before?

(ie in "normal times")?
19:02 March 19, 2010 by jlmcnamara
Want to bet that reparations for Asia Minor and Alexandria are next on the list.
19:30 March 19, 2010 by Fruitkok
The Germans are like the Dutch; we have to pay for everyone. The third world, southern Europe, eastern Europe, French farmers, Strasbourg and don't forget the mass immigration that has costed the Netherlands E 200bn so far. I'm wondering what all those Turks have costed you. + you got East-Germany. We really don't give a sjit or somehow our politicians, elected by ourselves, dislike us. Well you guys have my complete support that not even 1 euro goes to Greece and if it's up to me we short the EU structural funds to that corrupt place by 99%. Solidarity is our curse.
20:28 March 19, 2010 by Celeon
Maybe, India, Iran , Syria , Egypt and Afghanistan should demand reparations from Greece for what Alexander the Great did around 330 years BC? I doubt that Greece ever paid even one cent to them ;-)

You know ,because as we all know by the example of Germany , such reparation demands do not lapse, do not differ between generations and can seemingly be brought up randomly whenever you like......

If that would really be so Greece would now legally be in even greater trouble because of the greatest conquerer in history :-D
23:10 March 19, 2010 by peschvogel
Look, this statement is just a political tactic to get Germany on board for an EU bailout of Greece which they will do anyway. Their are no reperation payments to be made in 2010 however, if you want the Euro & the Eurozone falling apart fastly, you will have to bail out Greece. Germany's stance on Greece going to the IMF is not going to work. You must look at the bigger picture here. Its a statement used to get Germany to help out wth Greece.

In June, when Spain needs help and they will, they cant call the Germans out on this because the Nazi's stopped in France. Spain will have a bigger problem, and yet, again, so will the Euro & the EU.
18:28 March 20, 2010 by mixxim
The greeksalso want the Elgin marbles which were safely stored in the British Museum. However if they had not been there they would have been destroyed by now (like most other monuments there) If the greeks living now had half the skills of the ancient greeks (Macedonians?) they would not want them as they could produce better....
21:14 March 20, 2010 by Deutschguy
Given the state of Greek politics and lack of civic life, it does not sound like Greece was really ready for EU membership. Evidently, tax evasion in Greece is rampant, citizens there have little respect for their leaders, and very little loyalty to the success of a central Greek government.

When giveaways to public employee unions amount to 14 months of salary for 12 months work; when a worker can retire at 55; and when your government retirement pay is 105% of your last annual salary, something is very wrong with the system. The fraudulent bookkeeping to get into the EU should be punished with sanctions and penalties.

It's as if governing is a joke there, and basic attitudes of getting up and going to work, are things to be smirked or laughed at. And, all this baloney of German reparations or 'we gave the world democracy' is crap.

I wouldn't trust the Greek government as far as I could throw them, and they should be subject to objective third party audits of personnel, budgeting, and spending as a condition for continued membership.

You wanna strike, strike. Have fun reconverting to the drachma.
22:44 March 20, 2010 by Logic Guy
Well, after watching Papandreou's interview with the American interviewer Charlie Rose, I thought "This seems to really understand." But now, with all of this stuff, I now wonder if Greece should look for another leader. They are correct, the war ended more than 60 years ago. And we all know that Germany has paid billions.

Perhaps the German government now realizes that other countries will continue to ask for money, as long Germany feels guilty.

At some point the war must "officially" end. Otherwise, you will never achieve prosperity.
02:25 March 21, 2010 by baltog
Merkel she isn;t Brand not Kohl unfortunely. Prisoner of her sponsors (banks and spaculators) she hasn;t the capabillity to understant where are the borders between the (mark - like) monetary politics and the real black mail against euro (germany;s currency)..Greece is only the bagining,...From the other hand the conservative german majority provoke a media "operetta" against the "lasy" south stimulating all these nasty german "racial" reflexes witch The rest of europe wants to forget......Beware our allergical reactions!
14:33 March 21, 2010 by Prufrock2010
Draconian reparations following World War I destroyed the fragile German economy and led to the popularity and rise of Hitler. The issue of reparations in the context of the Greek economic crisis is a straw man, and a dangerous one at that.

As I posted earlier today on a related thread, Greece gained entry into the eurozone by fraud. Greece maintained its fraudulent practices by hiding its massive debt with the help of shady credit default swaps (CDSs) engineered by Goldman Sachs and other investment banking predators who are now speculating against the euro that they helped to devalue. Greece is now blackmailing the EU -- and specifically Germany -- to bail it out of the mess that Greece deliberately created. The subtext here is that Greece is betting that Europe will deem it "too big to fail" because of the inevitable threat to the euro should Greece fail, thus come to the rescue. This is a zero sum game. Greece should be expelled from the eurozone until it can get its economy under control, and all the reparations rhetoric coming from Athens should be dismissed as a lame attempt at blame-shifting away from Greece's systemic corruption. Enough already!
15:26 March 21, 2010 by janreg58
Maybe Germany should just take Greece over. It doesn't look like Greece is grown up enough to take care of itself!! Germany must be doing something right, because everyone runs to her with their hand out for a handout....
17:32 March 21, 2010 by wxman
And in other news, people of Troy say reparations issue still open.
14:40 March 22, 2010 by Deutschguy
@baltog: Aren't you supposed to be at a riot in the street or something? Maybe you can demand an extra month's salary for doing no work.
19:07 March 24, 2010 by peschvogel
Perhaps Germany can ask for the 2008 Euro Cup Trophy they lost when bailing out Spain in Q3. Stimmt
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