As Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras continues to enjoy good relations with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose country is footing much of the bill for two international bailouts of Greece but who has insisted on austerity measures in return, Greece is also preparing to press Germany for WWII reparations.
The new head of the Legal Council of the State, who is due to be appointed soon, will be told that getting blood money from the Germans is a priority, a Foreign Ministry official said. Greece was the scene of a number of massacres by the Nazis, including at villages such as Kalavyrta and Distomo and had much of its infrastructure destroyed and banks and art treasures looted during the war.
Responding to a question from an Independent Greeks MP, Deputy Foreign Minister Dimitris Kourkoulas said that the panel of experts already investigating the matter was working with the State’s Legal Council and that the process would speed up after the appointment of a new president.
“There is still an outstanding issue and we always reserve the right and ability to conclude the matter satisfactorily,” said Kourkoulas. “Greece never gave up its claims.”
Kourkoulas said that Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos, who took up the post in last month’s reshuffle, raised the matter of reparations at recent talks with his German counterpart, Guido Westerwelle, in Athens. Speaking to Kathimerini while in Greece, Westerwelle insisted that Germany did not have any outstanding obligations and dismissed Venizelos out of hand.
“We need to distinguish the historical and moral responsibility from legal obligations,” Westerwelle said. “These have been fully abided by on Germany’s part.”
Apart from compensation for damages suffered during the Nazi occupation, Greece is also investigating whether Germany is obliged to repay a loan the Bank of Greece was forced to provide to Berlin during the war.
Ironically, the two parties in Greece’s fragile coalition, the New Democracy Conservatives of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and Venizelos’ PASOK Socialists, owe Greek banks 250 million euros ($326.708 million) in outstanding loans, aren’t paying them, and have yet to work on a measure to give indebted Greeks similar relief on their loans, mortgages and credit cards.