Germany rejects Greek demands for WW2 reparations amid row
Tsipras spoke during a special debate on whether to revive a parliamentary committee that would seek German World War II reparations that Greece says were never fully paid. AP Photo.Germany dismissed on March 11 Greek demands to pay World War II reparations after leftist Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ government accused Berlin of using legal tricks to avoid paying compensation for the Nazi occupation of his country.
“It is our firm belief that questions of reparations and compensation have been legally and politically resolved,” said Steffen Seibert, the spokesman for German Chancellor Angela Merkel, as quoted by Reuters.
“We should concentrate on current issues and, hopefully what will be a good future,” he added.
Greece’s justice minister on early March 11 warned that German property could be seized in compensation for wartime atrocities, in an escalating war of words with Berlin over Athens’ current EU loan deal.
Justice Minister Nikos Paraskevopoulos said he was “ready to approve” a Greek Supreme Court ruling in 2000 that ordered Germany to pay around 28 million euros ($32 million) to the relatives of 218 civilians in the central Greek village of Distomo who were massacred by Nazi forces on June 10, 1944.
Under the Supreme Court ruling, assets such as property belonging to Germany’s archaeological school and the Goethe Institute 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, as reported by Agence France-Presse.
Hours earlier, the minister told parliament that his decision would depend “on the political negotiations of the government” on the war reparations issue.
The chamber on late March 10 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.
Greece’s new radical government is locked in negotiations with its EU-IMF creditors over austerity reforms pledged by previous governments in return for a massive 240 billion euro bailout funded.