ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greece's defense minister said his country's government has obtained "stunning evidence" to support its claim that German World War II reparations are worth a massive 278.7 billion euros ($302 billion).
Panos Kammenos said Greece had obtained records held by the U.S. military that review the extent of damage to private and public property during the Nazi occupation.
"There is stunning evidence — detailing what (happened) in every village and in every town," Kammenos said in remarks made at the ministry Monday and published Tuesday.
"The evidence is so compelling that it will lead to the reopening of cases, even those that have already gone to court."
The spat over reparations is likely to add to tensions between the two countries over Greece's troubled bailout repayments. The two-month-old government in Athens is struggling to repay debts and draw up a convincing cost-cutting reforms plan that Germany and other creditors want before they pay more rescue loans.
Nazi Germany led the three-year wartime occupation of Greece that saw tens of thousands of people die of starvation under a brutal regime that carried out random executions in response to resistance fighters and destroyed vital infrastructure during its retreat.
On Sunday, Deputy Finance Minister Dimitris Mardas told a parliament committee that private and state reparation claims from Greece were worth a staggering 278.7 billion euros ($302 billion).
Germany says it has already settled its reparations to Greece in post-war agreements.
Sigmar Gabriel, Germany's economy minister, argued that Greece's new left-led government was attempting to use the reparations issue to influence debt negotiations.
"To be honest I think it's dumb," Gabriel said. "I think that it doesn't move us forward one millimeter on the question of stabilizing Greece."
Gabriel reasserted that Germany believes the 1990 treaty on German sovereignty formally ends the debate about reparation payments. But he said he wasn't in favor of drawing a line under any discussion about Germany's guilt.
"Germany will have to keep facing the question again and again of whether what it did after 1945 was enough, or whether it still bears some responsibility today," he said.
Jordans reported from Berlin.
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