Friday, April 12, 2013

Greek Parliament Unanimously Agrees - Greece Must Ask Germany To Pay War Reparations

By Hellas Frappe on 12.4.13

For the first time in decades every single party in the Greek parliament is in unanimous agreement. Greece needs to formally ask Germany to pay back the money owed from the Second World War. This includes the war reparations as well as a forced occupation loan. A provocative statement made by German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble on Thursday noting that Greece should avoid the issue of war reparations and rather concentrate on reforms only ignited the flame which is now growing into a fire.

Schaeuble was referring to a top-secret report compiled at the behest of the Finance Ministry in Athens. Leaked by To Vima newspaper on Sunday, the report suggested that Germany owes Greece 162 billion euros in World War II reparations.

In essence, the political parties are urging the government to take the necessary legal steps to claim the 162 billion Euros (without the interest), that are due to Greece as a result of Nazi occupation and a forced war loan. (The 108 billion for Greece's infrastructure and 54 billion for the forced loan).

Responding to Schaeuble's statements, Foreign Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos said that the  reforms being carried out in Greece bear no relation – and can bear no relation – to the issue of German reparations, adding that the Greek state has been raising the issue for many years.
     “Whether this case has been resolved or not is determined by international justice, given that, by its nature, this issue concerns international law and the international justice organs,” Avramopoulos said.
    “Greece is not ‘losing its focus’ on the reform policy, despite the great sacrifices the Greek people are shouldering,” he added.
In comments made to Germany's Neue Osnabrucker Zeitung newspaper, Schaeuble said the issue of war compensations has already been “settled.”

Meanwhile, the German Tagersspiegel newspaper, slammed the Berlin government's stance on the issue noting that the Nazis did more damage in Greece than in any other country they occupied. The newspaper said that Hitler’s forces were responsible for the death of many men, women and children. Specifically it said 70,000 Jews were taken to concentration camps, 300,000 suffered frostbite and hunger because the German forces confiscated all food and fuel, 50 percent of Greece’s infrastructure and 75 percent of the country's industry were totally destroyed.

The issue of war reparations has been a contentious and legally complicated one for decades. Nazi Germany, which occupied Greece from 1941-44, forced Athens to extend it loans and give up gold reserves. There was also the question of the destruction of infrastructure and compensation claims filed by individuals who survived Nazi atrocities. As a result, Greece suffered greatly and unlike every other country Germany went to war with, only Greece has never been paid compensation.

Campaigners say the Paris Reparations Agreement of 1946 obliges Germany to pay Greece around billions of Euro.

There has long been a vociferous lobby calling for war reparations from Germany, with the so-called “National Council” calling for more than 500 billion Euros in war reparations (with interests), as well as the forced loan (with interest), but also for other commodities such as stolen art work and the loss of 50pc of economic output over almost four years.

The lobby claims that Germany’s debts were forgiven after the war at the London Conference in 1953 - including its debts to Greece - and that Berlin should remember that Germany’s Wirtschaftwunder was built with US Marshal aid and American help.

It is unclear what Athens hopes to gain by stirring up a highly emotional issue and it is certain to be viewed by German officials as a form of moral blackmail as tough talks continue over each stage of Greece’s EU-IMF Troika program. Some reports in Athens are even saying that it was prepared as a bargaining chip, but now the general feeling from all Greeks is that they want to vie for this money. (The people have indeed had enough!)

Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras is indeed in a difficult position. If Greece abandons this claim, then it might lead to waves of indignation throughout the country and if it decides to proceed with the claim then this could destroy the positive relations Athens now has with Germany.

Whatever the case, the important thing here is that our lawmakers finally came to a consensus. They placed national interests above their own and this is indeed historical. So what will happen? We don't know but we believe that deputy finance minister Christos Staikouras said it best when he stated:
"The matter remains pending. Greece has never resigned its rights."
Maybe this time Greece will!

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