Nazi war crimes 'still open issue' for Greece
ATHENS - Agence France-Presse
Immigrants living in Greece take part in an anti-Nazi rally in Athens March 17, 2012. Reuters photoCompensation for Nazi war crimes remains an open issue for Greece, the foreign ministry said Wednesday, a month after the UN's highest court said modern Germany enjoyed legal immunity for the actions of Adolf Hitler's Third Reich.
"We have repeatedly said that the compensation issue remains open," foreign ministry spokesman Grigoris Delavekouras told a scheduled news briefing, adding that it would be "useful" to hold a debate in parliament on the issue.
The International Court of Justice in February ruled that Italy had broken international law by allowing its courts to hear civil compensation claims against Germany for Nazi war crimes.
It said that Italy had "violated its obligations to respect the immunity which Germany enjoys under international law by allowing civil claims based on violations committed by the German Reich between 1943 and 1945." The two European Union members had been locked in a legal battle since December 2008, when Germany appealed to the ICJ after an avalanche of lawsuits by victims of Nazi abuses or their relatives.
Greece attended the ICJ trial as a non-party state because of victims of a 1944 German massacre in the village of Distomo, in which 218 people were killed.
Relatives of the Greek massacre victims refiled a case before Italian courts, after a Greek court failed to enforce a ruling for Germany to pay 28.6 million euros in compensation to the plaintiffs.
The Greek foreign ministry in February said the ICJ had ruled on Germany's jurisdictional immunity, and not on its "responsibility for illegal acts committed during the Second World War".
Berlin has consistently refused to compensate the Distomo claimants, saying the case had been settled between the two countries in 1960.
Deputy foreign minister Dimitris Dollis last week told parliament that wartime compensation "remains an open issue... that should close someday." He was responding to a parliamentary question by the nationalist party Laos, whose leader claimed that Germany still owed Greece 168 billion euros (222 billion dollars) plus interest.