Berlin doesn't want to compensate Athens

The German government on Tuesday again rejected Greece's demands for reparations. Athens puts the sum for World War II reparations from Germany at 278.7 billion euros. In view of the crimes committed during German occupation the debate can't simply be declared over and done with, some commentators fume. Others criticise Greece's negotiation tactics, which rely purely on confrontation.

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Dennik N (SK) /

Athens plays its last trumps

The Greek demands for German reparations for crimes committed during the Second World War and Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras's trip to Moscow today, Wednesday, have one point in common, the daily Dennik N believes: "Both are part of the negotiation tactics vis-à-vis Brussels, Berlin and the Western creditors. Athens wants to show that it's still got a trump in its hand and can exert pressure when it wants to, along the lines: If Berlin refuses to meet us half way, we'll at least burden it with international opprobrium. And if the West is unwilling to continue giving us money without guarantees, well then we'll get it from the big brother to the east. The reparations demands and the Moscow trip are meant to fire the Greeks' rebellious spirit - at least among Tsipras's voters - and make it easier for them to get used to their none-too-bright prospects for the future: either they leave the Eurozone, or they do what the creditors demand. At least in this way they will have fought to the last breath and taken revenge on their enemies."

El País (ES) /

Tsipras using wrong tactic

Greece has now named concrete figures in the dispute over German reparation payments. The amount mentioned and the timing, right in the middle of the debate over a new bailout package, couldn't be more unfavourable, the left-liberal daily El País comments in annoyance: "As if the debate wasn't already difficult enough. Now it's almost impossible. ... It's clear that this is a political manoeuvre. Alexis Tsipras's government is relying on confrontation - specifically with Germany - as a negotiating tactic. But it won't get far. Greece is ignoring the fact that today's Germany has nothing in common with the Germany of the 1940s. It is ignoring the fact that the EU's fundamental principles are based on reconciliation and oppose the resurrection of old hostilities. It is biting the hand that feeds it."

Basler Zeitung (CH) /

Reparations delay end of Eurozone

The German government could give in to the Greek demands for reparation at least partially in a bid to save the single currency, the right-wing conservative daily Basler Zeitung points out: "The German government has rejected payment of compensation to Greece for the time being. But not everyone in Berlin sees things that way. ... To forestall the end of the Eurozone in its current form, the German government could soon be forced to transfer further billions to Greece. The recognition of the reparation demands could provide a welcome pretext to justify such payments vis-à-vis the German public and make noble speeches about historical responsibility. In reality, however, it would be about keeping a dysfunctional single currency on artificial life support."

Frankfurter Rundschau (DE) /

Arrogant German stance is idiotic

Germany's Minister of Economic Affairs, Sigmar Gabriel, described Greece's demands for reparations as "stupid" on Tuesday. He's oversimplifying the situation, finds the left-liberal daily Frankfurter Rundschau: "Germany's 'lord of the manner' stance in simply declaring a glaring conflict as settled is not acceptable in view of the crimes on which the demands are based. ... Even after the 1990 Two Plus Four Agreement, Germany, which had supposedly settled all post-war demands, has reached special agreements on compensation for Nazi crimes, for example in the form of foundations for forced labourers. Why not seek a similar foundation model for Greece? Factually the current demands being made of Greece have nothing to do with Greece's historical demands directed at the occupying power Germany. They can't be balanced against each other fiscally. But the moral question deserves a different answer."