Greek Lawmakers Will Get German WWII Reparations Report This Year

Parliament President Nikos Voutsis. Photo: Eurokinissi/Giorgos Kontarinis.

ATHENS – A special committee looking into WWII reparations from Germany – which said it won’t pay any – will likely finish its report by the end of the year, and voted on, Parliament Speaker Nikos Voutsis said, without revealing what’s in it so far.

Talking to state broadcaster ERT, he referred to his leader, Prime Minister and Radical Left SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras and Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos, from the major rival New Democracy, both wanting Germany to make financial atonement for atrocities and destruction by the Nazis.

“This exceptional report by the special committee on all aspects of the matter relating to German reparations will come before Parliament’s plenary session and a decision will be made,” Voutsis said. “Claims will be made on the transnational and legal level,” he said.

He said, however, that Greece didn’t push its case while Germany was putting up the bulk of 326 billion euros ($378.79 billion) in three international bailouts and putting harsh austerity measures on Greeks and successive governments. The rescue packages ended Aug. 20.

Voutsis said that a “sacred issue” for the Greek people shouldn’t be a bargaining chip with the country’s creditors, the Troika of the European Union-European Central Bank-European Stability Mechanism (EU-ECB-ESM) and the Washington, D.C.-based International Monetary Fund (IMF).
In August, 2017, Pavlopoulos once again demanded Germany pay World War II reparations for the damage and atrocities done during the occupation.

Speaking during a visit to the village of Kimono, in Arta, northwestern Greece, where more than 300 people were executed by Nazi troops in 1943, Pavlopoulos said that the country was justified in seeking reparations and for a forced loan taken out by the Axis powers.

“Our claims are legally effective and judicially enforceable,” he said, the newspaper Kathimerini reported.

Germany has repeatedly rejected Greece’s claims and says it has honored its obligations, including a 115 million Deutschmark payment to Greece in 1960.

In October, 2016, he also insisted that Greece has a “self-evident right” to seek the reparations while speaking at an event marking the liberation of Athens from the Nazis.

He said Greece should get payment even though German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose country is the biggest contributor to 326 billion euros ($383.65 billion) in three international bailouts for Greece, repeatedly said it’s not even open for discussion.

Greece’s odd couple coalition of SYRIZA of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and his partner, the far-right, marginal, pro-austerity, jingoistic Independent Greeks (ANEL) keeps asking for the reparations and keeps getting slapped down by Germany.

Tsipras has even said Greece might seek legal means to get the money, a tactic he won’t use to get back the stolen Parthenon Marbles kept in the British Museum.

Greece is seeking 160 billion euros ($178.65 billion) in compensation to cover the loan and damages resulting from the occupation. Previous Greek governments also pressed Germany but also gave up, as has Tsipras.

Two years ago, shortly after being elected, the Radical Left SYRIZA leader Tsipras also pressed for German reparations before backing down when he needed Merkel’s help in getting a bailout from Greece’s international creditors.

“Germany has never properly paid reparations for the damage done to Greece by the Nazi occupation,” Tsipras told the Greek Parliament then. “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.”

“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,” Tsipras said.

The 1990 settlement, Tsipras said, “does not include a forced loan given to the Nazis by Greece’s central bank or the destruction of the country’s infrastructure and economy at the time.”

Former parliamentary speaker Zoe Constantopoulou, who broke away from SYRIZA in 2015 and formed her own far-left party, said she’ll sue Greece’s government, President and Bank of Greece chief for allegedly not trying to get the reparations.