Germany refuses to discuss WWII compensation with Greece

AP News
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Posted: Mar 11, 2015 12:03 PM
Germany refuses to discuss WWII compensation with Greece

BERLIN (AP) — German officials said Wednesday that the matter of compensation for the Nazis' World War II occupation of Greece is closed and the government isn't prepared to discuss the issue further with Athens.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has revived the question of war-time debts, telling Parliament on Tuesday that his debt-ridden country has never been fully compensated by Germany. Greece believes it is due payments for wrecked infrastructure, war crimes and a loan that occupied Greece was forced to make to the Nazis.

The issue has further soured relations between Athens and Berlin, already fraught amid the ongoing wrangling over Greece's financial bailout. Germany has been at the forefront of countries demanding strict austerity measures from Greece in return for financial aid.

"We won't be conducting any talks or negotiations with the Greek side" about World War II compensation, German Finance Ministry spokesman Martin Jaeger told reporters in Berlin after being asked about Tsipras' comments.

Jaeger said the German government believes the issue of reparations was resolved in a 1960 accord requiring West Germany to pay 115 million Deutschmarks to Greece.

The radical left-led government in Greece argues that the accord postponed a final agreement until Germany concluded a comprehensive peace treaty. When Britain, France, the Soviet Union and the U.S. signed an accord restoring Germany's sovereignty in 1990, West German diplomats worked to prevent it being called a peace treaty, to avoid triggering reparation claims.

"We should look forward together," Jaeger said. "Making these emotional and backward-looking allegations doesn't help in the context of the work we need to tackle together with the Greeks."

Government spokesman Steffen Seibert, too, sought to steer the focus of debate back to Greece's present-day debt.

"Germany is very aware of its moral obligation to keep alive the memory of Germany's guilt for World War II and the suffering it caused in many countries. That doesn't change anything about the legal and political assessment of the question of compensation and reparations," he said. "The eurozone and Greece together have a difficult path ahead of them on which we should concentrate."