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EUROZONE

Most Germans oppose increased euro bail-out

As their politicians prepare for next Thursday’s parliamentary vote on extending the euro rescue fund, a survey has found that a clear majority of Germans do not want them to decide in favour.

Most Germans oppose increased euro bail-out
Photo: DPA

A survey commissioned by public broadcaster ZDF showed that 75 percent of those asked, rejected the idea. Only 19 percent supported the proposed increase to €211 billion of the German credit guarantees to rescue the euro.

This rejection was fairly evenly spread through all political colours, with 70 percent of conservatives expressing that view as well as 73 percent of Social Democrat (SPD) supporters, 71 of Left voters, 67 percent of Green supporters and 82 percent of Pirate Party supporters, the Handelsblatt newspaper reported on Friday.

Yet 50 percent of those asked said they would not consider it a good thing if the European Union allowed Greece to go bankrupt. And 68 percent believed such a conclusion to the crisis would be a bad thing for Germany’s economy, with just 15 percent expecting such an eventuality to have a positive effect.

When asked which party they considered best able to deal with the crisis, 29 percent plumped for the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), while 23 percent said the SPD would be best, while just three percent said the Free Democrats could do the best job, one percent went for the Left party, and two percent wanted the Greens to deal with it.

A further 14 percent said no party was in a position to deal with it and 28 percent said they did not feel able to answer the question.

The Local/hc

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ANGELA MERKEL

German war crime payments debated in Greece

Greece's parliament on Wednesday began a debate on a resolution to demand the payment of German war crime reparations, an issue long disputed by Berlin.

German war crime payments debated in Greece
Angela Merkel and Alexis Tsipras in Greece in January. Photo: DPA

“These demands are always active. They were never set aside by Greece,” parliament chairman Nikos Voutsis told reporters this week.

The chamber is expected to approve later Wednesday, with cross-party support, a resolution calling on the government of Premier Alexis Tsipras “to take all the necessary diplomatic and legal steps to claim and fully satisfy all the demands of the Greek state stemming from World War I and World War II”.

A parliamentary committee last year determined that Germany owes Greece at least €270 billion for World War I damages and looting, atrocities and a forced loan during the Nazi occupation in World War II.

Reclaiming war reparations has been a campaign pledge by Tsipras since 2015. He faces multiple electoral challenges this year, with his party trailing in polls.

'Historical responsibility'

During a visit to Greece in January, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said her country “recognised its historical responsibility.”

SEE ALSO: Merkel says Germany recognizes responsibility for Nazi war crimes in Greece

“We recognize our historical responsibility. We know how much suffering we, as Germany in the time of Nazism, have brought to Greece,” she said.

In 2014, ex-president Joachim Gauck had also sought public forgiveness in the name of Germany from relatives of those murdered by the Nazis in the mountains of northern Greece.

But when it comes to actual payments, the German government has always insisted that the issue was settled in 1960 in a deal with several European governments.

Germany's government spokesman Steffen Seibert reiterated Wednesday that “the reparation issue is judicially and politically settled”. 

He said Berlin is doing “everything it can so Greece and Germany maintain good relations as friends and partners”. 

During the Greek economic crisis, there was further tension in Athens over draconian EU austerity and bailout terms seen to be imposed by Berlin hardliners.

Relations have improved over the last three years after Tsipras' government endorsed conditions linked to satisfying its creditors.

Tsipras and Merkel also worked closely on finding common ground on migration and Balkans security.

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