The radical left-led Greek government has insisted that the debt-ridden country has never been fully compensated by Germany for its brutal World War II Nazi occupation, linking the issue with Greece’s fraught bailout negotiations.
Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras yesterday said, a 1960 reparation deal with Germany did not cover key Greek demands, including payments for wrecked infrastructure, war crimes and the return of a forced loan exacted from occupied Greece.
Germany has repeatedly rejected previous approaches from Athens on further reparations, saying the question was settled by existing agreements.
Relations between the two countries have soured considerably since Greece’s acute financial crisis broke out in late 2009. Germany is a major contributor to the international rescue loans that have kept Greece afloat since 2010, and has been a keen proponent of the resented budget and income cuts demanded in exchange to rebuild the country’s shattered finances.
Tsipras told parliament that Greece will honour its obligations to bailout creditors, including Germany, but won’t "abandon its irrevocable demands" for World War II reparations.
His six-week-old government is trying to ease the terms of its rescue loan programme.
"We are not giving lessons in morality, but we will not accept lessons in morality either," Tsipras said during a debate on reviving a special parliamentary committee on demanding German war reparations.
"We are prepared to offer every political and legal assistance to ensure that this committee’s efforts bear fruit," he said.
Greece has not specified how much compensation it could demand from Germany, and the results of an official report into the issue last year remain classified.