On Monday April 6, Greek Deputy Finance Minister Dimitris Mardas stated Germany owes Greece 278.7 billion euros or $301.6 billion as a result of World War II. Germany’s economy minister refused the demand on Tuesday, considering it “stupid”. German opposition, on the other hand, considers Berlin should give back the forced loan taken during the Nazi occupation.
Germany is currently Greece’s biggest creditor, with many Greek citizens blaming the West European country for the harsh austerity measures and high unemployment linked to two international bailouts of 240 billion euros (almost $260 billion).
Sigmar Gabriel, German finance minister and vice chancellor, considers Greece’s demand to be an excuse. The real reason behind this request is the country’s attempt to obtain money in order to overcome its current debt crisis.
Eckhardt Rehberg, a budget expert for the conservative party considers Greece chose to treat the debt crisis and the changes imposed by the country’s creditors together with the issue of WWII compensations as a common matter. He explained that:
“The issue of reparations has, for us, been dealt with both from a political and a legal perspective.”
Berlin officials have stated that Germany had already finished all WWII payments, including an honorary of 115-million deutsche made to Greece in 1960.
But Greece’s demand did find some support from Germany’s opposition. Now members of the Greens and the far-left Linke party consider Germany is obliged to pay Greece back the forced wartime occupation loan (which was about 10.3 billion euros at that time) made in 1942.
European policy expert for the Greens Manuel Sarrazin considers the two countries should take the matter up to the International Court of Justice.
Annette Groth, chairman of a German-Greek parliamentary organization considers Germany should at least ask for explanations behind the figure calculated by Greece. She added that Germany’s categorical refusal is disgraceful as the country should first analyze whether it had done enough in order to make up for WWII.
In 1990, the agreement entitled “Treaty on the Final Settlement with respect to Germany” was signed by the then-East and West Germany together with the four WWII allies. This agreement included matters of reparations and any monetary obligations.
Sarrazin, however, considers Germany still has unresolved engagements from the Second World War.
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