Berlin and Athens wrangle over reparations

The German government on Wednesday dismissed demands by the Greek prime minister for reparations for Nazi crimes committed during World War II. Speaking to the the Greek parliament on Tuesday, Tsipras had called for billions of euros in compensation. The Greek leader is once more going way out on a limb in the debt crisis, some commentators complain. Others praise Tsipras for holding up the mirror of history to Germany.

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Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (DE) /

Athens' demands are dangerous nonsense

Since the Two Plus Four agreement of 1990/91, officially the Treaty on the Final Settlement With Respect to Germany, the question of reparations claims has been settled, in the view of the conservative daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung: "Basically everyone was in agreement at the time that such demands on the basis of indisputably terrible crimes were obsolete in the context of today's peaceful order. German and European courts, as well as the International Court of Justice, decided not to reopen the reparations issue for good reasons. ... Germany has always acknowledged its responsibility for the irreparable wrongs it committed - and paid for them. But anyone who tries to pull out this card again today must know what they're doing. Not only has the matter been settled from a legal point of view, it is also dangerous nonsense at a time when Germany would actually be entitled to respond even to justified claims from Athens with a hefty bill of its own."

Lidové noviny (CZ) /

Tsipras just countering German severity

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is cleverly holding up the mirror of history to the Germans with his demands for reparations, the conservative daily Lidové noviny comments: "Tsipras wants a debt cut. That's why he's bringing up the topic of World War II. When a notorious debtor nation demands a debt write-down it can't avoid looking like a spoiled brat. But if it casts itself in the role of non-compensated war victim, it is morally superior. Tsipras is asking whether Germany is acting morally. But that, in turn, raises the next question: is it moral not to repay your debts? ... When Germany's repayment of war reparations was deferred pending a peace treaty in 1953, everyone sensed that these payments would never be made. But equally, everyone can also sense that Greece will never repay its debts. In this respect Germany's strict stance vis-à-vis Athens is hypocritical."

Blog Pitsirikos (GR) /

Greece on the offensive for the first time

The Greek Justice Minister Nikos Paraskevopoulos wants to allow the seizure of German property in Greece pending an agreement on Greece's demands for war reparations. Blogger Pitsirikos concludes that Athens is going on the offensive: "For the first time in many years the German government is having to take a defensive stance with regard to Greece. This game is called 'politics'. ... For the first time Greece is officially demanding reparations because for the first time it has a government with which the Germans can't just do what they want. ... Germany has made a big mistake. It put too much pressure on Greece, and in doing so it forced the Greeks to vote out the politicians and parties that Germany had under its control. And in so doing, the German government has lost this game."