Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras during a Parliament speech…
- “Germany has never properly paid reparations for the damage done to Greece by the Nazi occupation.”
- “The crimes carried out by the Nazis are still vivid, and we have a moral obligation to remember what the forces did to the country.”
- “We are not giving morality lessons but we will not accept morality lessons either.”
- “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.”
- “And I wonder, because there is a lot of talk at the European level these days about moral issues: is this stance moral?”
Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras Tuesday expressed his government’s firm intention to seek war reparations from Germany, noting that Athens would show sensitivity that it hoped to see reciprocated from Berlin.
In a speech in Parliament, launching a debate on the creation of a committee to seek war reparations, the repayment of a forced loan and the return of antiquities, Tsipras told MPs that the matter of war reparations was “very technical and sensitive” but one he has a duty to pursue.
He also seemed to indirectly connect the matter to talks between Greece and its international creditors on the country’s loan program. “The Greek government will strive to honor its commitments to the full,” he said. “But it will also strive to ensure all unfulfilled obligations toward Greece and the Greek people are fulfilled,” he added. “You cannot pick and choose on ethical issues.”
Tsipras noted that Germany got support “despite the crimes of the Third Reich” chiefly thanks to the London Debt Agreement of 1953.
Central to Greece’s grievances is a loan that Nazi Germany forced the Greek national bank to pay them to the tune of 476 million Reichsmarks…now worth roughly $12 billion.
The loan was never repaid. Greece is also seeking further reparations from Germany from the destruction inflicted upon Greece during the WW2 Nazi occupation.
Zerohedge adds some more insight as to the timing of Greece’s claim, and the amount asked…which can reach levels significantly higher that the $12 billion loan…
Germany has repeatedly rejected Greek calls for WWII reparations claiming that “war compensations to individuals was settled with the Agreement of 1960? and the “Agreement of 1990.”
However, “the Agreement of 1960 covered only compensation for the individual victims of Nazi horrors, not the destruction wrought on Greece during the 1941-1944 occupation and the enforced loan,” Tsipras said.
Why is Greece pushing for any recovery on the reparations front? Because the amount for the cash-strapped, and now desperate, country could be substantial: “according to some sources, the Greek claims from Germany are estimated €269 – €332 billion. In April 2013, after the investigation committee concluded its work, newspaper To Vima reported that the Greek claim was 162 billion euro.”
To Vima stressed to have seen the findings and reports that the experts found that Germany should pay Greece 108 billion euros for damage to infrastructure and 54 billion euros for a loan that the Nazi occupation forces obliged Greece to take in order to pay Berlin during the war.
In other words, the reparations are equivalent to about 80 percent of Greek gross domestic product.
To make matters even more complicated, and perhaps signal to Germany that Greece is serious in its pursuit of the reparations, Greek Justice Minister Nikos Paraskevopoulos said he is ready to sign an old court ruling that will enable the foreclosure of German assets in Greece, in order to compensate the relatives of victims of Nazi crimes during the Second World War.
Quick backstory…Greece’s Supreme Court ruled in favor of Distomo village survivors back in 2000, but the decision has not been enforced. Distomo, a village located in central Greece, lost 218 lives in a Nazi massacre in 1944.
Paraskevopoulos told Antenna TV on Wednesday:
“The law states that in order to implement the ruling of the Supreme Court, the minister of justice has to order it. I believe this permission should be given and I’m ready to give it, notwithstanding any obstacles.”
“There must probably be some negotiation with Germany.”
Paraskevopoulos first announced his intention to rule on the Distomo issue on Tuesday during a Parliament debate on the creation of a committee to seek war reparations, the repayment of a forced loan, and the return of antiquities.