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Greece Demands 289 Billion Euros WWII German Reparations

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Graffiti with Distomo massacre in Athens, Greece. (Photo by Eurokinissi/ Yiorgos Kontarinis)

ATHENS -- Already repeatedly rebuffed, Greece has again insisted that Germany pay reparations - some 289 billion euros ($341.54 billion) in damages for the Nazi World War II occupation.

The call came, said the German news agency state broadcaster Deutsche Presse-Agentur (DPA) just ahead of the 80th anniversary of the invasion of Greece by German troops, who also conducted multiple atrocities.

"The question remains open until our demands are met. These demands are valid and active, and they will be asserted by any means," Foreign Ministry spokesperson Alexandros Papaioannou told DPA.

This is the first time that Prime Minister and New Democracy leader, whose party belongs to the same center-right European People’s Party (EPP) as German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) has asked for compensation.

The last call for negotiations before that was made in 2019 by the Radical Left SYRIZA government of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, his administration on its last legs before being ousted in July 7, 2019 snap elections.

Tsipras, needing the support of Merkel for a European Union bailout of 86 billion euros ($101.53 billion) - Greece’s third - and had been deferential to her before plummeting in polls.

The cost of the damage caused by Nazi Germany in Greece also included a forced loan given to the German central bank but Germany has said the score was settled  by the so-called Two Plus Four Agreement, signed in 1990, which allowed the united Germany to become fully sovereign.

But reparations were not explicitly mentioned in the document, nor were countries that suffered the most damage, including Greece, included in negotiations led by the conquering powers.

A Bundestag report in 2019 found that Greece's claims did have legal weight, calling the German government's position "acceptable" but "by no means compulsory" under international law, noted DPA.

Germany's Green and Left parties strongly criticized the government's refusal to be drawn into negotiations and wanted them resumed but it was rejected during a debate in the presence of Greek Ambassador Maria Marinaki.

Bundestag Vice-President Claudia Roth, from the Greens, said she was ashamed of Germany's attitude, while Left lawmaker Heike Hänsel called the government's position "neither morally nor legally acceptable."