Robert HARNEIS -TDO- The Greek parliament voted on Wednesday to press Germany to pay billions of euros in damages for the Nazi occupation of the country in World War Two, an issue Berlin says was settled in 1960.
Greece suffered greatly under Nazi German rule and a parliamentary commission in 2016 put the cost at more than 300 billion euros, though the latestclaim mentioned no figure.
The vote, the first official decision by parliament on the reparations issue, is likely to further strain ties with Germany, blamed by many Greeks for painful austerity measures imposed in return for bailout loans during its financial crisis.The proposal calls on the government to take “every appropriate legal and diplomatic action to satisfy Greece’s demands”.
“This claim is our historic and moral duty,” Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said at the end of a nearly 12-hour debate which concluded with the vote on the proposal submitted by parliamentary speaker Nikos Voutsis.“To build a better future we need to close the open cases of the past and Germany needs to do the same,” he said, adding that Athens would raise the issue diplomatically with Berlin.
Germany has in the past apologized for Nazi-era crimes but has not been willing to reopen talks on reparations. Then-West Germany paid Greece the sum of 115 million deutschmarks in 1960 as reparations for its wartime suffering.
“The question of German reparations has been conclusively settled, both legally and politically,” German government spokesman Steffen Seibert said on Wednesday. “We are, and I hope you can believe us, aware of our historic responsibility.”
Greece has emerged in the past year from a decade of austerity imposed by international lenders in return for bailouts that kept it afloat after the debt crisis erupted in 2010.Prime Minister Tsipras said his government did not want to link the two issues, responding to criticism over the parliament’s delayed response to the report on the matter issued in 2016.“We could never put the absolute evil of Nazism... on a scale,” he said. “No slaughter, no monstrosity, not even one drop of blood could be balanced against any bailout.”
Nazi Germany occupied Greece in May 1941, raising the swastika over the Acropolis in Athens. About a thousand Greek villages were razed during the war, thousands died of starvation and tens of thousands of people were killed in reprisals by German forces trying to crush Greek resistance.
The parliamentary committee in 2016 assessed the occupation cost as at least 269 billion euros, rising to over 300 billion euros with the inclusion of an amount the Nazis forced the Bank of Greece to hand over in 1942 to support Germany’s war effort.
Kyriakos Mitsotakis, leader of the conservative New Democracy Party which is leading in opinion polls, said any future government led by him would seek to recoup that occupation loan.There have been calls for the money claimed to be recovered by seizing German property in Greece such as German citizens holiday homes.
Poland has also indicated that as far as they are concerned the issue of wartime compensation is not closed."Reparations are not a closed subject," Polish president Andrzej Duda said in an interview with Germany's Bild am Sonntag, on 28 October 2018.
Greece is preparing not only for the European elections in May but also for national parliamentary elections in October. There may also be an element of the Greek government positioning itself for some future Euro crisis and or a further Greek debt crisis. Present Greek government debt despite restructuring remains completely unstainable and the austerity policy being enforced by Germany and the EU is making the situation worse not better. Coincidentally the amount claimed would largely pay off the Greek governments external net debt of 390 billion euros