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Greece Reopens Issue of War Reparations from Germany

Greece Germany reparations
Retreating Greek soldiers, April 1941. Credit: Bundesarchiv, Bild 101I-163-0318-09 / Bauer, CC BY-SA 3.0 de/Wikipedia

Greece called again for talks with Germany on wartime reparations on the 80th anniversary of the Nazi Occupation of the country, which began on April 6, 1941.

Reparations are estimated to be the equivalent of 279-289 billion euros following a Greek committee’s assessment on February 8, 2015, under the government of former Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.

“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 the German news agency DPA.

The issue of war reparations has been raised numerous times, including in 2019 when the former SYRIZA (Radical Left Coalition) was in power.

Now, the government of conservative New Democracy Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis is seeking for the issue to be opened up yet again.

In January of 2020, Mitsotakis had said that the issue was an open one but he had not at that point pressed Germany on the matter.

After invading Greece on April 6, 1941, German armed forces went on to carry out numerous massacres in the country, with tens of thousands of civilians dying during the conflict.

Germany denies reparations

Germany has held steadfast on its view that the matter has been resolved due to the so-called “Two Plus Four Agreement,” signed in 1990.

According to the agreement, a united Germany was allowed to become sovereign the following year; however, reparations were not explicitly mentioned in the agreement.

Greece and Poland, which were of course both invaded by Germany during WWII, were not included in the negotiations for the treaty, which was signed by the former East and West Germany along with France, the US, Britain and the Soviet Union.

The German Bundestag released a report in 2019 stating that Greece’s claims did not carry legal weight, adding that the German government’s position was “by no means compulsory” under international law.

The German government would rather fund reconciliation projects with Greece of an educational and commemorative nature rather than pay reparations.

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